Hue – the imperial city


For some unknown reason, I expected Hue to be a calm city like Hoi An, but upon arriving was slapped in the face with smog and chaos, so familiar by now.
Once an Imperial Capital, and very close to the former division between south and north Vietnam, Hue somehow manages to preserve much of that history in the middle of  modern day development.
With only two nights booked (and not wanting to stay longer), we opted once again for a cheap tour to the main sights. We knew by now these tours are very hit-or-miss, but it was still the most cheap and efficient means of transportation between the sights.
A very slow boat ride on the Perfume river took us to the Thien Mu Pagoda, which is very picturesque. Back on the boat we were then taken to a temple that is under renovation and could have easily been skipped.
After an early lunch on the boat we changed to a Bus that then took us to three different Royal Tombs – Ming Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc. My favorite was the last one, set on a beautiful park around a lake.
To end the day we visited the Imperial City, inside the Citadel, a huge complex and the highlight of the trip. Beautiful temples and buildings, surrounding by well kept gardens and lakes, easily take you back in time. Even with the hoards of tourists it’s easy to find a quiet spot and enjoy the peacefulness as the Emperor once did.
Dragon boat ride along the perfume river.
Thien Mu Pagoda: 1844.
In this car, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc went fom An Quang Pagoda to the intersection of Phan Dinh Phùng street, and Lê Van Duyêt street on June 11, 1963 in Saigon. As soon as he got out of the car, he sat down in the lotus position and burnt himself to death to protest against the Ngô Dinh Diêm regime’s policies of discriminating against Buddhists and violating religious freedom.
Ming Mang tomb: planned during the reign of this king (1820-1840) and constructed by his successor.
Khai Dinh tomb: the penultimate emperor of Vietnam, he reigned from 1916 and 1925.
The interior of Khai Dinh tomb.
Modern day buddhist monk.
Tu Duc tomb: constructed between 1864 and 1867. Emperor Tu Duc designed it himself to use before and after his death.
Citadel exterior walls and moat: built between 1804 and 1833. The epicentre of the Nguyen empire.
Inside the citadel, there’s the imperial enclosure, where we can see some remnants of his past greatness, with temples, palaces and other state buildings. Only 20 out of 148 buildings survived the french and american war.
The art of bonsai trees is surprisingly meticulous and creates an extraordinary beauty in the imperial enclosure gardens.
Tu Vo Phuong Pavillion: defence bastion for the northern part of the Imperial Enclosure
Nine dynastic Urns (only 4 in the picture!): 1835-1836.

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