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Hue - Vietnam

Minh Mang Tomb Imperial City of HueImperial City, HueKhai Duc Tomb, InteriorTu Duc TombThien Mu Pagoda

Hue was the most important of Vietnam's central cities and home to the Emperor. Situated along the Perfume River, Hue has several major attractions.

The Citadel is a massive complex, mainly left to nature and very green. Within the fortifications is the Imperial City - home to the former Emperor of Vietnam and his court. The entrance gateway with five huge gateways (one reservered for the Emperor alone, another for his Royal Elephants) offers good views over the inside and was used by the Emperor to view parades and conduct ceremonies.

Within the walls and most are pools and more enclosed areas where different functions occured. The east side is mainly ruins while the west has many richly decorated walled palaces and temples. In the center is the ruins of of the Forbidden Purple City where the Emperor and his family and concubines lived.

Further upstream from the city are a number of Imperial mausoleums, built as a combination of tomb and temple where the deceased Emperors could be venerated according to the Chinese tradition of ancestor worship. Emperors designed their own mausoleums and often spent many years living in the parks and pagodas that would later become their tombs.

The Minh Mang Tomb is one of the most stunning, set in a large area of parkland with lakes to either side and with the main buildings having a completely symmetrical layout along the main axis. These are symbolic of the Emperors final journey and richly decorated with carvings and mosaics.

The Khai Duc Tomb is much more austere but equally dramatic, climbing the steep hillside in grey stone. The inside is a sharp contrast of colour, sumptuously decorated with bas-refief mosaics. The Tu Duc Tomb is less impressive but has a lake that breaks the symmetry.

Impressive views are had from the Thien Mu Pagoda, the oldest pagoda in Hue set on a bend in the Perfume River. The tall tower is surrounded by peaceful gardens with many bonsai trees.

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