Located between the central strip of harsh climate, intense summer sun and winter rains, is a green charming landscape along the Perfume river down the East Sea (Bien Dong)- Hue Citadel.
From the time of the Nguyen Lords, Hue has been chosen as the capital of the south: Hue was the capital of the reign of King Quang Trung Nguyen Hue, and again became the official capital of the country when Nguyen Phuc Anh was crowned emperor, starting the Nguyen dynasty which lasted for 143 years. With a rich history associated with nine generations here, is not difficult to understand when Emperor Gia Long chose the land to become the capital for his reign.
Construction started in 1805, Hue Citadel is planned on the north bank of the Perfume River, turning its face toward the south, with a surface area of 520 hectares, 10 main gates.
Originally made of earth, until the end of Gia Long reign, it was built from brick. Hue Citadel is a unique combination between the Vietnam’s traditional architectural principles, Eastern philosophy with the five elements of yin and yang from China and characteristics influenced by Western military architecture Vauban style (a French architectin late seventeenth century).
In the history of early modern Vietnam, Hue Citadel is perhaps the construction of most massive scale with tens of thousands of people participated, millions of cubic meters of rock used, with an enormous workload of trenching, filling rivers, migration, graves relocation, molding … extending from the time of research in 1803 (Gia long’s reign) until completion in 1832 (the reign of King Minh Mang).
With the primary purpose is defense, premises of a slightly cupped shaped square in front topographical Perfumr river shoreline, each side has a gate, a gazebo over there to observe. The back side of the roundabout was built forts are arranged equidistant from each other, attached with cannons, ammunition… In addition, the system of trench immediately surrounded was dug nearly 10 km in length. Particularly the canals serve both functions of defense and water transport with more than 7 km in length. (the west section of Van Ke River, north of the river segment An Hoa, east of the Dong Ba River section, the south section based on Perfume river).
In the eyes of the geomancy , Hue Citadel is situated on the “Great Island”, in the range generated by the flow of the Perfume river in front and two tributaries include Bach Yen (silver swallow, gold dragon) Kim Long) at theback flowing round and meet together again downstream. Perfume River is the main road, along with two small islands Con Hen and Da Vien with position of “Ta Thanh Long , Huu Bach Ho” (left green dragon, right white tiger-two guards with great power) heading to the front of the Citadel. Across the river, not far away is Ngu Binh mount top, shielding the front Citadel from bad spirits.
The Citadel and all the structures of Royal Palace, Forbidden City are turning to the south, in the direction referring to “Thanh nhan nam dien nhi thinh thien ha” (king facing South to rule the country).
Based on the principles of feng shui, the Nguyen emperors has combined the elements available in natural terrain such as rivers, mountains, islands … with the sensible intervention of human hands when filling some sections of the river Bach Yen, Kim Long, and dug a series of river systems and trenches inside and outside the Imperial City to serve his ideas. All such efforts are not out of desire for long-term capital of Nguyen Dynasty. It is hard to recognize any purposeful arrangement in a harmonious overall architecture of nature-like.
Not creating impression of repressive spirit, also not too wild and untouched, Hue Citadel makes people feel the right amount of sanctuary atmosphere but not losing the calm and relaxed feeling as natural close. Besides, the architectural style and room arrangement makes Hue Citadel become a great fortress and the strongest ever in Vietnam.
Le Rey, a French captain coming to Hue in 1819 exclaimed: “Hue Citadel really is the most beautiful fortress, the most well-propotioned in Indochina, even compared to the fortress of William in Calcutta and Saint Georges in Madras built by the British.”
View Tour: Hue City Tour 1 Day