Historic Hue – The Citadel

November 22, 2015

Wooden Kanji P

Hue is an historical city that’s vibrancy befits the name of the Perfume river that runs through it. It’s exotic and it has a little bit of everything. The main attraction is the ancient Citadel, where the last emperor of Vietnam and his predecessors lived. Take a look at their front door.


Here’s an interesting fact about that, Nguyen is one of the world’s most popular surnames. Most of the Kinh people who make up 85% of Vietnam’s population, and are therefore described as the Vietnamese, have it as there surname because the last emperor of Vietnam’s surname was Nguyen.




The Citadel is a fascinating place and pretty nicely in tact, it’s nice to wander in and out of the old buildings where the emperor and his family used live. The place is rich with imagery, for example the emperor’s mother’s house has phoenix’s on the roof because the phoenix stands for virtue and grace in Vietnamese symbolism.


The roof of the drawing room features a rooster because it’s sometimes said that the year of the rooster represents a period of hard work and activity.


The emperor’s buildings have dragons because that’s his animal symbol.


There’s a really nice theatre in the grounds with some traditional instrument examples, all with beautiful mother of pearl inlay. I know my London Metropolitan friends would appreciate that.



There are lots of these symbolic wall designs around the palace too.


I say the palace is pretty well in tact but it has needed some restoration, especially after being heavily targeted by bombing by the USA. They still haven’t gotten round to doing it all yet though.


Inside of the citadel there’s some really nice exhibitions including one on the royal seals of the emperors, each emperor had an official seal or possibly eighty depending on how extravagant they were. I like the way that the old style Chinese characters fit into the box shape.


Other pieces on display that belonged to the emperor.


This is an interesting map of east Asia. I can’t get enough of those old Chinese characters.


Some of the buildings are stylised with magnificent mosaics, presumably it was emperor Khai Dinh who embellished these buildings as his tomb is covered in a similar fashion.


We had a really nice time in the Citadel, wandering in and out of all the buildings, observing an ancient tradition.



Outside of the palace but inside of the walls there’s a huge defensive wall and a moat. Typically the Vietnamese government have seen fit to claim this ancient relic with a big flag.


It was a really hot day when we went to the Citadel, and it takes the best part of the day to see it, so I feel like I earned this!