Complex of Hue Monuments




The administrative center of southern Vietnam in the 17thand 18thcenturies, Hue was made the national capital of a united Vietnam in 1802 by the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal dynasty in Vietnamese history, a designation it held until 1945.  In its role as the capital, it was not only the political center but also the cultural and religious heart of the country. 


Hue was selected as the location for the capital by the Emperor due to its location in the geographic center of the country and its proximity to the sea.  The capital was designed in accordance with ancient oriental philosophy and Vietnamese tradition.  The surrounding hills were considered to be a “blue dragon” to the left and a “white tiger” to the right, thereby protecting the main entrance from evil spirits.  The monuments are aligned cosmologically with the Five Cardinal Points (center, west, east, north and south), the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water and fire) and the Five Colors (yellow, white blue, black and red).


Within the city there were four citadels, or defended enclosures, with the Forbidden Purple City at its center.  With the goal of creating a replica of the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Emperor commanded thousands of laborers to build palaces, gates and courtyards to function as his home and the administrative center of the Empire.  By 1968, Hue had been taken over by the Communists and American bombs bombarded the city, leaving only a few buildings intact.  These have been restored, allowing the world to see how the Vietnamese interpreted Chinese imperial architecture and modified it for their own culture.


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