COMPLEX OF HUE MONUMENTS (WORLD CULTURAL HERITAGE – 1993)

PDFPrintE-mail

Complex of Hue Monuments lies along the Perfume River in Hue City and some adjacent areas of Thua Thien Hue Province. It is an unique example of a planned and fully defended feudal capital city in southeast Asia.


The site consists of the Capital City in Hué, and associated monuments outside of the city. The latter includes the tombs of the emperors Gia Long, Minh Mang, Thieu Tri, Tu Doc, Duc Duc, Dong Khanh, and Khai Dinh. And a string of temples, pagodas and other spiritual sites.

The Capital City is a complex enclosed within defensive walls. It holds residences, palaces, gates, with the Forbidden Purple City at its heart.

Hué was the imperial capital of Vietnam between 1802 and 1945 under the reign of the 13 Nguyen Kings. During these years, architectural works of a high cultural and historic value were built: the Citadel, especially the Imperial City (including 253 constructions), 7 Royal tomb compound of 9 kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Esplanade of Nam Giao, the Ho Quyen arena and the Hon Chen Temple.

The complex of royal architecture represents and demonstrates the power of the Nguyen Dynasty's centralism. Contained in this complex are Kinh Thanh Hue (the Hue Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (the Royal Citadel or Imperial City) and Tu Cam Thanh (the Forbidden Citadel) clustered together, symmetrically placed along the longitudinal axis and facing to the south.

The system of walls combines sophisticatedly both eastern and western architectural styles placed in natural harmony with Ngu Binh Mount, Perfume River, Gia Vien and Boc Thanh islets. Even people implicitly consider these natural landscapes as a part of the complex.

 


Surrounded by a square wall, almost 600 metres in length on each side, the Imperial City has four gates, of which the south gate (Ngo Mon) is most typical in construction and is widely seen and recognized as the symbol of Hue Citadel. It served not only as the main entrance but was also the place where important events of the dynasty took place. Within the area of the Imperial City, the Forbidden Citadel was the area reserved for daily activities of the royal family.

The main north-south axis, called Than dao (miraculous road), runs through the three walls of the Hue Capital Citadel, Imperial City and Forbidden Citadel and was marked with the important constructions of Hue Citadel. Hundred of small and large buildings were built symmetrically along this axis in harmony with their natural surroundings gives one a feeling of gentle and serenity.  These buildings include Nghinh Luong Pavilion (Pavilion for Fresh Air), Phu Van Lau (or the Pavilion of Edicts was the building where Emperor's edicts and lists of successful candidates of Thi Hoi (National Examination) and Thi Dinh (Court Examinations) were publicised), Ky Dai (Flag Tower), Ngo Mon Gate (the main entrance), Thai Hoa Palace (The Throne Palace, or Palace of the Supreme Harmony, was the building for great court's meetings), Can Chanh Palace (the place for every day working of Emperors), Can Thanh Palace (Emperor's Private Palace), Khon Thai Residence (Queen's Private Apartment), Kien Trung Pavilion (the place for daily activities of Emperors)...

In the distance, to the west of the Capital Citadel, along the Perfume River, are the famous royal tombs and temples, masterpieces in landscape architecture built by the Nguyen Dynasty. Each royal tomb aimed at creating a living place for royal pleasure before becoming an eternal resting place after the king’s death. This resulted in the architecture of royal tombs in Hue being distinguished by unique characteristics.

Each tomb reflects its owner’s life and character: the magnificence of Gia Long’s tomb in the immense landscape of mountains and jungles represents the spirit of a general in war; the symmetry and majesty of Minh Mang’s tomb combiners both man-made and natural mountains and lakes and reveals the powerful will and solemn nature of a talented politician who was also an orderly poet; the peaceful and sombre qualities of Thieu Tri’s tomb reflects the innermost feelings of an outstanding poet who made few achievements in political life; the romance and poetic atmosphere of Tu Duc’s tomb  evoke the elegant and subtle tendency of a poet rather than the strong characteristic of a politician.

At the meeting of the 17th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) in Columbia, from the 6th to the 11th of December 1993, UNESCO has come to the decision of recognising the architectural ensemble of Hue as a world cultural heritage. In the closing report of the above-mentioned meeting, the WHC has briefly assessed the value of Hue as follows:

"The architecture of Hue, which has been the Capital of a unified Vietnam, built at about the beginning of the 19th century, combines the oriental philosophy with the traditions of Vietnam. Intimately mingled with the natural environment, the beauty and special richness of the architecture and decorative art of the building are an original image of the Vietnamese monarchy at its most prosperous period".

 

Share