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The Citadel

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Like many of Hue’s historic sites, Hue Citadel is hardly ancient—construction of what you can see today first began in 1805, under the rule of Gia Long, the first of the Nguyen Dynasty rulers. What remains has been ravaged by war, looting and age, but remains a fascinating attraction well worth a half day of your time.

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While generally referred to in tourism literature as “The Citadel”, much like a Matryoshka (Russian) doll, the Citadel is really three cities within a city. The all encompassing city is the Citadel, with its imposing brick walls forming a perimeter of almost 10km. Off centre within the Citadel lies the moat-enclosed Imperial City with the circumference of the moat coming in at around the 2.5km mark. At the centre of the Imperial City lies the Purple Forbidden City whose walled perimeter is around 1.3km in length.

A field of sunflowers at the heart of the Forbidden Purple City. Photo taken in or around The Citadel, Hue, Vietnam by Stuart McDonald.

A field of sunflowers at the heart of the Forbidden Purple City. Photo: Stuart McDonald

Today the inner two—the Imperial and Forbidden Purple Cities—form the “museum” part of the affair (and are ticketed, see below for details), while the larger Citadel retains a living breathing Vietnamese city and is easily our favourite part of the entirety of Hue.

Built on a northwest southeast axis, Hue Citadel was the final incarnation of a citadel building boom which raged across Vietnam through the late 18th to mid 19th centuries. Taking place during the reign of Emperor Gia Long (and continued by his successors Minh Mang and Thieu Tri) the citadels were initially built with the assistance of French expertise, though later were largely local efforts—often requiring the recruitment of vast labour reserves. Aside from Hue, citadels were build in Hanoi, Quang Ngai, Lang Son and many other locations across ... Travelfish members only (Around 1,900 more words) ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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The Citadel
North bank of the Perfume River, Hue
Daily 07:00 to 18:00
Admission: 150,000 dong for adults, 30,000 dong for kids aged 7-12

Location map for The Citadel

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What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Hue.
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