The Citadel in Huế

The Citadel (Kinh Thanh) is one of the star attractions of Huế, in central Vietnam.

Dating back to the nineteenth century, the Imperial Citadel is surrounded by a 30-metre wide moat and accessed via ten fortified gates.

One of the approaches to the Citadel, across the moat

The Citadel was about 30 minutes’ walk from our hotel, along the river bank and across one of the bridges that span the Perfume River.

From the guidebooks, I had expected the citadel to be crumbling and just a pile of stones, but it was very grand and had been restored beautifully.

It costs 150,000 VND to enter the citadel (£4.91). The ticket office is located through the monumental Ngo Mon Gateway which leads into the Imperial Enclosure. Directly ahead is the Thai Hoa Palace where the emperor would greet official visitors.

Thai Hoa Palace

As you walk through the complex, there are the Halls of Mandarins on either side.

Halls of Mandarins

To the Northeast is the Royal Theatre, where traditional dance shows are held and you move from there to the Emperor’s reading rooms and the Co Ha gardens, my favourite area of the complex.

Reading rooms

The Forbidden Purple City is in ruins but there are lots of other royal residences to explore and some particularly beautiful gateways.

Within the Imperial Citadel
Topiary within the Imperial Citadel

Don’t miss the nine dynastic urns on your way out, decorated with landscapes, rivers, flowers and animals.

The dynastic urns

To be honest, there was almost too much to see in one visit and it was very hot, so we only lasted about two hours. Definitely worth a return visit!

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