Forbidden Purple City
Hue, the former royal capital of Vietnam during the rule of Nguyen Dynasty, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being the capital city, Hue is lavishly adorned with several magnificent palaces, temples, royal tombs and other remnants of Vietnam’s rich past. Hue finds itself in the company of other former royal capitals in Southeast Asia whose incessant efforts to protect and preserve their outstanding architectural heritage and historical vestiges have made them important world heritage sites. These include Ayutthaya and Sukhothai in Thailand, Angkor in Cambodia, and Luang Prabang in Laos among others. In fact, the Forbidden Purple City, Hue based in the heart of the city is one of the prime illustrations of the rich architectural legacy of Vietnam that draws tourists by hordes.
Said to be patterned after the Forbidden City in Beijing, the Forbidden Purple City of Hue was commissioned by the Emperor Gia in the early 19th century. Today unfortunately most of the Forbidden Purple City stands completely destroyed, due to the Tet Offensive, the spared remains are a nostalgic reminder of the grand buildings that once stood there. The city was supposed to house a new palace and a citadel to be used solely by the emperor and his family.
The palace of the Emperor was located within the walls of the citadel along the east side nearest the river. A second, smaller set of walls and moat defined the area of the “Purple Forbidden City,” where the Emperor built a network of palaces, gates, and courtyards that served as his home and the administrative core of the Empire. The construction thus came to be known as Cung Thanh (City of Residences). The name Forbidden Purple City was adopted later during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang.
By the end of the imperial rule in Vietnam in the mid 20th century, when the last Emperor of Vietnam stepped down, many dozens of pavilions and hundreds of rooms had been added to the Purple Forbidden City. Though improper maintenance of the Forbidden City made it susceptible to frequent termite and typhoon damage it nevertheless remained an imposing spectacle.
Today the city is one of the UNESCO sites and the remaining buildings and those that escaped complete destruction have been lovingly restored.