Hue’s prime attraction lies on the north side of the Perfume River, and can fill half a day. A confusing term, ‘the Citadel’ – home to Vietnam’s kings and assorted queens, moping eunuchs and royal mandarins, from 1802 to 1945 – refers to the huge 10km-around stone wall filled with moats, leafy modern-day neighborhood streets, and the famed ‘imperial city’ – the Citadel’s ‘inner citadel,’ which can be visited by admission.

Click the following for details on the two parts of the Citadel:

History of the Citadel
The area was built throughout the 19th century, each of the 13 kings adding their own flourishes over the years. It’s seen some troubles too. In 1885, conflict between Emperor Ham Nghi and the French led to a battle, where overpowering French troops looted the city, exiled the king, and replaced him with his older brother, the more bendable Dong Khanh. A 1947 fire – two years after Bao Dai gave up the throne, ending the Nguyen Dynasty – destroyed many buildings too. But the worst was yet to come. Some of the American War’s harshest battles took place during the Tet Offensive of 1968 here. When VC troops took over the Citadel, US artillery shelled it, destroying nearly everything, including the emperor’s private ‘forbidden purple city,’ which remains a bombed-out field still. Much of the rest of the imperial city, however, has been repaired or rebuilt.

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