Hue was once the imperial capital of Vietnam. It was also a central battleground during the Tet Offensive in 1968. Hue therefore sits on a fulcrum between having a lot of historical architecture on the one hand and having a lot of that historical architecture bombed to smithereens during the Vietnam War.
Nevertheless, some of the architecture has survived and been restored. Our first point of call was the Royal Tomb, where the ruling Nguyen Dynasty buried its dead.
The next port of call in Hue was the Thien Mu Pagoda – the tallest pagoda in Vietnam. The pagoda was built after the king at the time heard of a prophecy given by a “Celestial Lady” that a pagoda would be built there. He duly obliged.
Now, the pagoda shares space with a monastery, I saw monks walking around the grounds, cooking dinner in their kitchens and tending to chickens. I also caught sight of a ceremony in progress:
We visited the Imperial City the following morning. The sun was ferocious and we all carried large bottles of water with us to keep hydrated. Much of the city has been rebuilt since the Battle of Hue, but it has been tastefully done, so it’s hard to tell what has been totally rebuilt and what has been restored.
Within the city grounds was a harem (some of the kings had up to 500 wives and one king had 142 children), schools for the children (they were all educated separately, and various temples, this was one of them:
The whole city was heavily defended and surrounded by a moat:
Our time in Hue was coming to a close, and the smaller town of Hoi An beckoned.