The Complex of Hue Monuments is located in and around Hue City in Thua Thien-Hue Province in the geographical centre of Vietnam and with easy access to the sea. Established as the capital of unified Vietnam in 1802 CE, Hue was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal dynasty of Vietnamese history, from 1802 to 1945 CE.
The plan of the new capital is in accordance with ancient oriental philosophy, and respected the physical conditions of the site.
The Ngu Binh Mountain (known as the Royal Screen) and the Perfume River, which runs through the city, give this unique feudal capital an entire setting of great natural beauty as well defining its symbolic importance. The site was chosen for a combination of natural features – hills representing a protective screen in front of the monuments or taking the role of “a blue dragon” to the left and “a white tiger” to the right – which shield the main entrance and prevent the entry of malevolent spirits. Within this landscape, the main features of the city are laid out.
The structures of the Complex of Hue Monuments are carefully placed within the natural setting of the site and aligned cosmologically with the Five Cardinal Points (centre, west, east, north, south), the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire), and the Five Colours (yellow, white, blue, black, red).
The central structure is the Hue Citadel area which was the administrative centre of southern Viet Nam during the 17th and 18th centuries CE. Within the Hue Citadel were located not only administrative and military functions of the Empire, but also the Imperial Residence, the Hoang Thanh (Imperial City), the Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City) and related royal palaces.
Tran Binh Dai, an additional defensive work in the north-east corner of the Capital City, was designed to control movement on the river. Another fortress, Tran Hai Thanh, was constructed a little later to protect the capital against assault from the sea.
Outside the Capital City there are several associated monuments of importance. In the outlying areas were located important ritual sites related to the spiritual life of the dynasty such as the Van Mieu (Temple of Literature), the Dan Nam Giao (Esplanade of Sacrifice to the Heaven and Earth), the Ho Quyen (Royal Area), the Den Voi Re (Temple of the Roaring Elephant), and the Chua Thien Mu (Celestial Lady Pagoda). Further upstream, arranged along the Perfume River were the tombs of the dynasty’s emperors.
The Complex of Hue Monuments is a remarkable example of the planning and construction of a complete defended capital city in a relatively short period in the early years of the 19th century CE. The integrity of the town layout and building design make it an exceptional specimen of late feudal urban planning in East Asia.
Criterion (iv): The Complex of Hue Monuments is an outstanding example of an eastern feudal capital.
Hue (Huế) (sounds much like huh-WAY) is in the central region of Vietnam and is the former imperial capital. Hue is intimately connected to the imperial Nguyễn Dynasty, based in Hue, which ruled from 1802 to 1945, when the Emperor Bao Dai abdicated in favour of Ho Chi Minh’s revolutionary government. The city went through tough times during what is known locally as the American War, when it was conquered by the Viet Cong and held for 24 days. During that time, they executed around 1,000 people suspected of sympathizing with the South. After a ferocious assault, US and South Vietnamese forces retook the city. Hue is easy to get a grip on. The main landmark is the Perfume River (Hương Giang), with the old city and the citadel on the north side and the newer city, including most hotels and restaurants, on the south side. [read more]
Da Nang (Đà Nẵng) is Vietnam’s third largest city after Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh city. It’s located in Central Vietnam and on the South China Sea coast, midway between Ha noi and Ho Chi Minh City. The city itself has neither the ambiance of Hanoi nor the hustle-bustle of Ho Chi Minh City, but has its share of sights and is close to the charms of Hoi An and the imperial capital of Hue, making it a popular vacation spot for those looking to explore the attractions of central Vietnam or soak up some sun while hanging out on the city’s beaches. The regions surrounding Da Nang (My Son, Quang Nam) were founded by the Cham Hindus perhaps 3,000 years ago, serving as the capital city and centre of the Hindu Champa Dynasty. Vietnamese invasions into the region in the 17th century significantly halted Cham development. [read more]
Dong Hoi is the capital city of Quang Binh Province in Central Coast of Vietnam. Dong Hoi on the Nhat Le River and by the South China Sea with its 12 km of white sandy beaches. There is not much to do in Dong Hoi but relax, enjoy its beaches and drink a beer; get there now before the masses do. Many hotels and tour groups operate tours to these nearby beaches and caves. There are few tourists in Dong Hoi, so you will be greeted with many hellos. Nhat Le Beach is nearby, but the focus of the town is very much on the river and canals. Dong Hoi had been a small village before Vietnam was divided during the time of the Trinh-Nguyen War (1558–1775), after which Vietnam was divided into two countries: Dang Trong and Dang Ngoai with the Gianh River as the frontier. [read more]