Hue, the city of imperial palaces and tombs is on most travellers’ itineraries when they visit Vietnam. The city’s most famous attraction is the ancient Imperial Citadel and the Imperial Enclosure within – it’s home of Vietnam’s last royal dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802 – 1945).
In the early 19th century the Emperor Gia Long consulted geomancers to find the best place to build a new palace and citadel. They chose the present site at Hue. The Emperor wished to recreate in an abbreviated form a replica of the Forbidden City in Beijing.
The Emperor decided to locate his own palace within the walls of the citadel along the east side nearest the river. A second, smaller set of walls and moat defined the area of the “Purple Forbidden City,” where the Emperor built a network of palaces, gates and courtyards serving as his home and the administrative core of the Empire.
By the time the last Emperor of Vietnam stepped down in the mid 20th century, the Purple Forbidden City had acquired many dozens of pavilions and hundreds of rooms. Although improperly maintained, the city suffered from frequent termite and typhoon damage.
During the Vietnam War, Huế’s central location very near the border between the North and South put it in a vulnerable position. In the Tết Offensive of 1968, during the Battle of Huế, the city suffered considerable damage not only to its physical features, but its reputation as well, due to a combination of the American military bombing of historic buildings held by the North Vietnamese, as well as the massacre at Huế committed by the communist forces. After the war’s conclusion, many of the historic features of Huế were neglected because they were seen by the victorious regime and some other Vietnamese as “relics from the feudal regime”; the Vietnamese Communist Party doctrine officially described the Nguyễn Dynasty as “feudal” and “reactionary.” There has since been a change of policy and many historical areas of the city are currently being restored.
Hue was based on both a physical and spiritual foundation from the turn of the 19th century.
In Huế, Buddhism is taken a bit more seriously than elsewhere in Vietnam, with more monasteries than anywhere else and the nation’s most famous monks.
At times abandoned children are taken in and cared for. During adolescence they are given a choice if this is the life they wish to pursue.