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The Forbidden City of Hue

Towards the last leg of my trip around Vietnam, I visited Hue, Vietnam's ancient capital. I did not know what to expect during my trip, but I kept an open mind to absorb as much as I can. Hue was the former capital, cultural, and religious center of Vietnam during its heyday.

The Ancient City of Hue

Hue seemed like a normal city, you could hardly picture it as a seat of power during Vietnam's ancient past. It was unlike the bustling cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

Hue was recognized as the political, cultural, and religious center of Vietnam in 1802 until 1945. The site of the Imperial City follows ancient oriental philosophy where the elements and location of the site were carefully considered before construction began. The citadel contained the imperial residence, administrative offices, military offices, the Forbidden Purple City, and other related royal offices and palaces.

Honestly, I expected more from the Forbidden City. I expected a grand city with high walls, elaborate palaces and offices, and a feel of royalty as I walked through its halls and rooms. But because of its ruinous state, I was a bit disappointed. The Forbidden City and everything in it was heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, leaving the city in desolation. It was deemed a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1993, leading to several restoration projects.

I had to use my imagination to try and picture what the ancient city was like before.

The city had plenty of elaborate gates, courts, pavilions, and gardens as I walked around for a couple of hours.

I got lost several times as I wandered the city complex. I could only imagine what it was like before. The royal guards standing watch, emperors and consultants discussing the affairs of the city and nation, the concubines in their palace, music blaring in its halls, and people walking in and out of the complex paying their respects or asking for favors.

Hue managed to maintain and partly restore the damage inflicted by wars in the past. You could hear the echoes and see the remnants of a lost time as you walk inside the Forbidden City.

On a lighter note, I met these two lovely Swiss ladies in the hostel where I stayed in. We had dinner together and talked about our home countries and experiences while traveling. Cheers to meeting people on the road!

*There is an entrance fee of VND105,000 to enter the Forbidden City and Citadel.

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