We are spending a few days in Hue, Vietnam and in this installment of our Vietnam adventure we will continue to see what Hue has to offer a RIPper. We are having a great time in a different SE Asian country than Thailand and we are really starting to appreciate Vietnam and its people more and more. In this episode we look at some of the necessities a Ripper (Retiree In Paradise) needs and also costs of things in Hue.
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We will continue to cover what it is like to live in Vietnam and in this episode we will even check out the once capital of Vietnam, Hue and the old Imperial City and Citadel.
As always we continue to contemplate the question, “what would life be like living in Vietnam as a retiree?” We will look to see what the upsides and downsides are to living in a Communist country like Vietnam.
Here is a little background info about Hue. Huế is a city in central Vietnam that was the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and the national capital from 1802-1945. A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century Citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines; the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor’s home; and a replica of the Royal Theater.
Huế originally rose to prominence as the capital of the Nguyễn lords, a feudal dynasty that dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1802, Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (later Emperor Gia Long) succeeded in establishing his control over the whole of Vietnam, thereby making Huế the national capital.
Huế was the national capital until 1945, when Emperor Bảo Đại abdicated and a communist DRV government was established with its capital at Hanoi, in the north.
Imperial City, Huế
In June 1802 Nguyễn Ánh took control of Vietnam and proclaimed himself Emperor Gia Long. His rule was recognized by China in 1804. Gia Long consulted with geomancers to decide which was the best place for a new palace and citadel to be built. After the geomancers had decided on a suitable site in Huế, building began in 1804. Thousands of workers were ordered to produce a wall and moat, 10 kilometers long. Initially the walls were earthen, but later these earthen walls were replaced by stone walls, 2 meters thick.
The citadel was oriented to face the Huong (perfume) River to the east. This was different from the Forbidden City in Beijing, which faces south. The Emperor’s palace is on the east side of the citadel, nearest the river. A second set of walls and a second moat was constructed around the Emperor’s palace. Many more palaces and gates and courtyards and gardens were subsequently added. The reigns of the last Vietnamese Emperors lasted until the mid-1900s. At the time, the Purple Forbidden City had many buildings and hundreds of rooms. It suffered from termite and cyclone damage, but was still very impressive. Many bullet holes left over from the Vietnam War can be observed on the stone walls.
In the early morning hours of January 31, 1968, as part of the Tet Offensive a Division-sized force of North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong soldiers launched a coordinated attack on Huế seizing most of the city. During the initial phases of the Battle of Hue, due to Huế’s religious and cultural status, US troops were ordered not to bomb or shell the city, for fear of destroying the historic structures; but as casualties mounted in house-to-house fighting these restrictions were progressively lifted and the fighting caused substantial damage to the Imperial City. Out of 160 buildings only 10 major sites remain because of the battle, such as the Thái Hòa and Cần Thanh temples, Thế Miếu, and Hiển Lâm Các. The city was made a UNESCO site in 1993. The buildings that still remain are being restored and preserved. The latest and so far the largest restoration project is planned to conclude in 2015.
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Posted In: Hue, Vietnam
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