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HUE Overview

From 1802 to 1945, when it was the capital of the Nguyen emperors, Hue was the most beautiful, most cultured city in the entire country. It spite of suffering severe damage during the Vietnam War, Hue still holds considerable sightseeing possibilities, including the remains of the Forbidden City, as the for palace complex of the emperors was known, as well as a number of impressive imperial tombs that are extensive memorials combining monumental architecture with attractive landscaping. The city, located in central Vietnam, also inspires accolades for its beautiful setting on the banks of the Perfume River.

Hue’, designated a world heritage site in 1993, lies on a plain backed by the Annamese Cordilla, on the banks of the Huong or “Perfume” River, 8 km from the coast of the South China Sea, 650 km south of Hanoi and 1,100 km from Ho Chi Minh City. This town of about 350,000 has evolved over the last two millennia from its inception as a Han Chinese military outpost. As well as serving as the political capital of a unified Vietnam under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 until 1945 (and the seat of the Nguyen family, before that, from 1558), Hue’ ws long the cultural and religious centre of the country.

Warfare, notably the Tet Offensive during the Vietnam War, and natural disasters have inflicted terrible damage on Hue’ over the years, but the city and most of its architecture remain. Among the country’s ancient capitals, Hue’ alone with its walls and places, its hundreds of pagodas and more than a dozen royal tombs and mausoleum in both the town and the surrounding countryside-is the only one that retains its character as a living regal embodiment of the culture. Hue’ ranks as one of Vietnam’s most valued national treasures.

In all, the site includes 16 monumental complexes extending over an area of 520 hectares in Vintitien Province, about 100 km northwest of the commercial centre of Danang. Dai Noi, the early 19th century Chinese-style Vietnamese imperial citadel, base for the Nhuyen family from the mid-16th to the mid-20th century, is enclosed by 1 km of walls that encompassed a complex of palaces, temples and other official buildings. It’s also a pleasure simply to walk around town and visit the shops and markets, or to take a boat tour on the river.