Architectural details in decay at the Forbidden Purple City, Huế.

Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.

The Imperial City in Huế was built for a Nguyễn Phúc Ánh, who took control of Vietnam in 1802 and proclaimed himself its Emperor. The complex continued to grow in size and magnificence for over a century until the abolition of the monarchy in 1945. Despite termite and typhoon damage, it remained impressive up to the America/Vietnam war. Reacting to the Communist takeover in 1968, the Americans ordered the city retaken and bombs blasted the majority into rubble.

Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.

Resulting in thousands of deaths, the Battle of Huế was one of the longest and most destructive of the war. Although militarily it was an Allied victory, driving the People's Army of Vietnam and Viet Cong away and punishing them for their offensive, the destruction of the city and its people influenced a swing in public opinion in America.

 

From this time forward, support for the war declined and over the next five years the US's involvement decreased until March 1973 when the last of their troops left Vietnam. In 1975, communist forces eventually captured Saigon and the war was over. 

Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.
Miniature Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.
Tiny buildings hidden in the rock.
Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.

 

The remaining architecture is chipped and faded, but the site is worth visiting for the surviving details and strange atmosphere that hangs around the buildings.


For me this felt like one of the more honest of Vietnam's attractions, a chance to loose yourself in the past and a welcome sanctuary after the bustle of Hanoi and Ho Chi Min. It's the most prominent example of imperial Chinese influence over Vietnamese architecture and has plentiful opportunities for deciphering the fantastical imagery that adorns many of the most colourful walls.


The complex is now being restored, but I visited before much had been changed. I think I preferred it that way, so get there quickly if you want a similar experience. 

Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.
Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.
Architecture Forbidden Purple, Imperial City, Huế, Vietnam.

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Comments: 8
  • #1

    Shikha (whywasteannualleave) (Monday, 29 June 2015 23:37)

    I wish I'd had longer when I visited Vietnam a couple of years ago to visit Hue. I made it to Hoi An which also felt very chilled our compared to Hanoi but I'd love to have seen the architecture and remnants of history in Hue.

  • #2

    Katie Featherstone (Wednesday, 01 July 2015 08:36)

    Hi Shikha,
    Hoi An is lovely too, but I thought there was something a bit magic about Hue. :) Thanks for dropping by!

  • #3

    Rory (Friday, 03 July 2015 17:42)

    It must have been beautiful back in the day.

  • #4

    Becky Padmore (Friday, 03 July 2015 21:53)

    Wow looks really beautiful, love the unusual architecture!

  • #5

    Mary {The World Is A Book} (Sunday, 12 July 2015 05:54)

    I love all the details you captured here. It was interesting to read all about the history of Hue. In a way, it's great that they're making efforts to restore the place but I also know what you mean about seeing it in its original form.

  • #6

    Katie Featherstone (Sunday, 12 July 2015 11:22)

    Yeah, I'm not sure how to feel about it either!

  • #7

    Agness (Thursday, 07 January 2016 08:43)

    I know this place very well, believe me or not. Its architecture is extremely interesting and knowing you found Hue so inspiring makes me feel so happy! :)

  • #8

    Katie Featherstone (Thursday, 07 January 2016 09:29)

    Haha! I'm glad you love it too Agness!

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