Ngo Mon Gate – the principal gate to the Imperial City

Ngọ Môn also known as the Gate of Noon, is the principal gate to the Imperial City, located within the citadel of Huế. It was built in 1833 in the traditional Vietnamese Nguyen style under the dominion of emperor Minh Mạng and the supreme used it as an observation point for troop campaigns and ceremonies.

The gate is splitted into two levels: the stone and brick fortress-like base structure, and the more elaborate, palace-like upper level.

The ground level has five entries, of which the centre one was always used for the monarch’s only. The two side entries (smaller) were used for mandarins, soldiers and horses. The two small bowed entries on the side were for the rest and common people.

The upper layer consists of a grand pavilion, called the Lầu Ngũ Phụng (Five-Phoenix Pavilion). It’s easy for the emperor  to watch troop campaigns and his subjects bringing homage from the principal hall. The roof of pavillion is decorated in imperial yellow, glazed ceramic roof tiles that are various animals and creatures to ward off evil.

Ngo Mon Gate’s architecture is somehow similar to Tiananmen Square in Beijing but also reflects the national architectural style of Vietnam. Ngo Mon is sophisticated and elegant, it’s considered the pinnacle of architectural art of the imperial court. Ngo Mon Gate was also where many important historical events and holidays of the Nguyen Dynasty took place y as publish new calendar, naming doctorate ceremony etc. August 30, 1945, Ngo Mon witnessed the abdication of Emperor Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam’s monarchy who handed power to the interim government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam

Ngo Mon Gate was able to survive the large-scale destruction during the Vietnamese War from 1950’s-1970s. In 1968, after the Battle Mau Than in Hue, Ngo Mon was severely damaged. Until 1970, the gate and some other places (also damaged) were repaired.

Ngo Mon Gate is one of the most important sites which you should visit during your trip to Hue

Thai Hoa Palace – Hall of Supreme Harmony

Thai Hoa palace is one of the most important center constructions of the citadel in Hue, Vietnam. It can be considered as the the hall of supreme harmony – where the court organized monthly gala evenings and special ceremonies with the presence of king, queen, imperial clan and mandarins.

Thai Hoa Palace began to be built on February 21, 1805 and completed after eight months. Almost 30 years later, in 1833 Emperor Minh Mang decided to move this palace 30 meters to the front to the current position.

Passing the Gate of Noon (Ngo Mon Gate), we follow the main route, also called the path of courage (Dũng Đạo). Opposite the palace courtyard is Thai Dich Lake – the lake was excavated from the reign of Emperor Gia Long. The bridge of loyalty (Trung Đạo) crosses the lake and leads to the courtyard which has 3 floors. The lowest floor is a place that seniors over 70 and relatives on the mother side of the king stood on holidays.

The second floor – where mandarins – middle position and low (in court, mandarins were classified in 9 position, the first is the most powerful and the ninth is the least powerful, this place is designated for mandarins from the fourth to the ninth) stood  in ceremonies. Both sides of the room have two rows of stone to show the title of mandarins

The top floor is a place for major mandarins from third position to the first. On this floor, the two sides have flags and water bowls.

Crossing the giant courtyard, we found a huge palace which is about 1300 square meters. The main hall is 43.30 meters long, 30.1 meters wide. The palace has two chambers – the front chamber and the main chamber. The main one has the throne.

In the days of ceremony or funeral, the King sit on his throne in the main hall to proclaim edicts, receive important guests or praise of mandarins.

Decoration and architecture of Thai Hoa Palace, in general, has a special concept of number 5, and especially the number 9. The numbers do not appear only in the exterior decoration of buildings but also in the number of steps. From the Great Hall of the Gate of the Forbidden City to the Thai Hoa Palace, Emperor needed to pass one stair of 9 steps and one of 5 steps. Standing in the field looking from the Forbidden City to the palace, we can see nine dragons (in different positions) on each roof

Inside, from the throne, the wooden strip around until each side of three floors are decorated with nine dragons each location. Today, thanks to its historical value, Thai Hoa Palace became one of famous tourist destinations in Hue, Vietnam