Hue’s Imperial City

On the north side of the Perfume River in Hue is a vast historic complex known as The Citadel.  Within The Citadel lies the Imperial City, which houses the royal palaces of the Nguyen Dynasty.  This was the scene of very heavy fighting during the famous Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War in January 1968.  During this fighting some of Vietnam’s most culturally significant buildings and artefacts were destroyed.  There are large patches of open ground where beautiful structures once stood.  Fortunately, what remains has been carefully maintained and, where necessary, restored to its former glory.  The work of the artisans who constructed the palaces, pagodas and halls and the works of art within them is quite grand.  On display also, is the Austin car that Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc drove to the intersection in Saigon in 1963 where he set fire to himself and died to protest against government-led religious persecution.  This event was the subject of a famous news photo that was seen all around the world.

Visiting this historic site highlighted the importance of hiring a knowledgeable tour guide when touring places of such significance.  Our guide, Trieu, had many stories and explanations to relate, and this information led to us developing a much deeper understanding of Vietnam under the Nguyen emperors and life in the royal court.

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