Hue Imperial City of the Nguyen Dynasty

Hue imperial city (Hue Citadel)

Located in the center of Vietnam, Hue served as the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945. This wonderful place comprises a lot of cultural monuments including palaces, temples, and tombs. Especially, Hue Imperial City (Hue Citadel), which is the UNESCO Heritage Site, has been one of the most outstanding structures that feudal palace lovers should not miss.

1.  Hue Citadel’s History

This Hue citadel complex was the place where the 9 Nguyen Lords and 13 Nguyen Dynasty Emperors chose to live and govern the country. To be accurate, in 1803, Emperor Gia Long himself examined the terrain to choose a suitable place to build this massive complex. In fact, it took 31 years to complete from 1802 to 1833.

Hue Citadel- Culture Pham Travel
Hue Imperial City- Culture Pham Travel

Located on the North bank of the Perfume River, in the center of the city which is 10.000 m in circumference. Fascinatingly, based on geographic and Fengshui principles. The emperors constructed the Hue Citadel faces the South and picked Ngu Binh mountain as the front screen.

Besides, the Emperor planned the architectural system in accordance with the well-proportioned principle. Moreover, surrounding the citadel of Hue, there is a total of 10 gates and a 7 km long moat for decoration, protection, and be a natural air-conditioner as well.

2. Imperial City Hue map

3. Hue citadel’s structure

Hue Citadel consists of an area of 500 ha and includes three ramparts.

The first area is the Kinh Thanh Hue (Hue Citadel). In reality, Emperor Gia Long ordered builders to construct it in the year 1805. Regardless of the time and natural disasters, this building was stable with 140 huge constructions.

Specifically, it is 9 kilometers in circumference with 10 gates. Additionally, 24 bastions were set up on the top of the walls with defensive aims.

The second area behind Noon Gate is the Royal City. As you know, it is considered the most crucial part of the citadel since this is the place to hold some grand ceremonies, put the shrines.

The working area of the Emperor and mandarins. Moreover, the meetings about internal affairs happened here as well.

The last section is the Hue Forbidden City. It was built in 1803 to be the private residence of emperors, the royal family, and eunuchs.

At first, Gia Long named it Cung Thanh and then he changed it into Tu Cam Thanh in 1821. Around it, there are bricks walls 3 meters high and 0.7 meters thick.

4. Hue Imperial City palace views 360 looked from outside


5. What to see at Hue Imperial City?

5.1. Noon Gate

Noon Gate- Hue imperial city
The Noon Gate- Hue Citadel

It is the iconic symbol of the formal Royal City. It was the main gate to enter the Royal city. The Noon Gate was the last monument built-in 1833 with 5 entrances.

Specifically, the central gate and yellow door were only for the emperor. On the right for civil mandarins and on the left for military mandarins.

On two wings, there are 2 more gates for soldiers, horses, and elephants. Interestingly, it is a U-shaped building made of huge wooden doors, stone foundations, and brick.

5.2 Ngu Phung palace

On the Noon Gate is the Ngu Phung palace. This special building consists of 100 columns, Its roofs are tiled in the yin-yang style. Remarkably, the yellow royal tiles area only for the Emperor and the green royal tiles roofed for the mandarins and royalties.

The decoration topic is about dragons, the symbol for the power of the Emperor. To be specific, the palace had been used as a stage for major royal ceremonies.

Ngu Phung Palace- Hue citadel
Ngu Phung Palace- Hue citadel

This special construction, which is the most powerful symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty, is the historic witness of a lot of battles especially the Tet Mau Than Offensive in 1968.

Nowadays, thanks to the gifted craftwork and enthusiastic support, it appears stunning with a new appearance.

5.3 Thai Hoa Palace (Supreme Harmony Palace)

Thai Hoa Palace- Hue imperial city
Thai Hoa Palace- Hue imperial city

In this most important palace, only twice a month, following the Lunar calendar, Emperor worked inside with 4 highest-ranking mandarins, other mandarins were on the royal courtyard, entering inside to do business with the emperor.

The palace was only used for some special ceremonies such as the coronation of 13 Emperors, the Emperor’s birthday, and the significant meetings with envoys from other countries.

Even though it was under renovations, large-scaled re-construction, it remains its main historic beauty. Distinctively, the palace’s roof is famous for its unique style. It comprises the upper roof, the lower one, and the eaves.

In a closer look, on the roof, there are many dragons, suns, and moon images. Honestly, they symbolize the emperor and the Oriental philosophy.

5.4 Duyet Thi Duong Royal Theater

Hue Royal Theater- Culture Pham Travel
Hue Royal Theater- Culture Pham Travel

Under the reign of the Gia Long Emperor, they constructed this building for Emperors and royal family members to entertain and enjoy conventional art performances, especially royal dance, dramas, and royal court music.

Furthermore, Duyet Thi Duong theater is the place for royal banquets and nowadays, for special festivals, this theater is the venue to display Hue Royal Court music, which is a Unesco world Masterpieces of Oral and Intangible heritage.

5.5 The To Temple (The Royal Family Temple)

Royal family Temple-Culture Pham Travel
Royal family Temple-Culture Pham Travel

It was constructed in 1821 by Minh Mang Emperor in order to worship Emperor Gia Long, the founder of the Nguyen dynasty. Lately, they worship almost Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty.

3 deposed Emperors such as Duc Duc, Hiep Hoa, and Bao Dai are not allowed to be worshiped. In the past, women could not enter.

5.6 Cung Dien Tho

Dien Tho residence- Hue citadel
Dien Tho Residence in Hue Imperial City

It was the private residence area of the Emperor’s mother and grandmother. it is the most massive building which is kept intact nowadays. Accurately, this construction consists of over 10 buildings that were covered with a rectangular-shaped wall.

The buildings in this place were connected with a roofed corridor system. Every day, the Emperor walked in this corridor to visit his mom.

6. Things to know before visiting Hue Citadel

6.1. Hue Citadel – Vietnam Entrance fee

To explore the complex of Hue Imperial Citadel, you have to buy an entrance ticket. Your ticket will a big contribution to the conservation, rebuilding of the Unesco Heritage. It costs VND 200.000/ person ( approximately USD 8.7 ) for adults and VND 40.000 (roughly 1.7 USD ) for kids from 5 to 12 years old. Children under 5 years old are free of charge.

HUE Entrance Fee Monuments in 2022


Some reference information about the Hue entrance fee is just the advice from Culture Pham Travel. The Hue entrance fee will be different depending on the season, time, children, as well as group policy…If you join the tours of Culture Pham Travel. Entrance fees will be included in the tour fee.

6.2. Hue Citadel opening hours

Honestly, the Hue Imperial City is so massive that you can spend half a day discovering it. Therefore, you can visit this place from 7 a.m to 5 p.m. It opens every day even in the Lunar New Year (Tet holiday).

In April and June, there are many colorful festivals such as Kite or Ao Dai festival, and both of them attract a huge number of foreign and domestic visitors. Therefore, if you come here on these special occasions, you might experience many interesting cultural activities.

7. Amazing activities in Hue imperial city.

If tourists wish to be the Emperor, prince, or princess in the modern time, their desire can be true when they come to Hue Citadel. In this ancient place, they have the chance to put on Imperial clothes to take photos.

Additionally, the journey is pretty long and tourists may feel tired in boiling days, you can take the electric golf cars with 8 seats to help reduce their exhaust at affordable prices. Moreover, there are some royal music performances in the royal city that you can enjoy for free.

With a group of 8 people, you will get a free souvenir photo from the local photographers in the citadel. These days, you can get the audio guide service with multi-languages so you can easily enjoy and spend your time in Hue Imperial city as much as you like.

8. How to get to Hue Citadel?

There are many ways to get to Hue Citadel such as walking, booking grab bikes, or catching a cyclo. Another way to enjoy the sense of authentic experience and deeply understand with a knowledgeable local tour guide, let’s join in Hue imperial city guide: Hue city tour 1 dayHue City Tours full day with Culture Pham Travel. 

It is advisable to bring sunglasses, suncream, and as well as boiled water with you. Besides, don’t forget to take your umbrella or raincoat in case it rains.

Let’s join us to explore Hue Imperial City with us!

Culture Pham Travel

+84 349 825 119