Like many of Hue’s historic sites, the Citadel is hardly ancient—construction first began in 1805, under the rule of Gia Long, the first of the Nguyen Dynasty rulers, Thereafter it functioned as the imperial seat of government.
Over the years, new buildings were added, and the fortifications strengthened to fend off would-be attackers. At its height, it was comparable to the Forbidden City in Beijing, but when the Vietnamese took on the French here in 1947, it was badly damaged. Then the 1968 Tet Offensive saw it mercilessly bombed, first by the North Vietnamese before they took the city, then by the Americans before they took it back. Precious few of the interior structures were left standing, though the fortified walls survived.
How to get there
To get here from Le Loi, take the Phu Xuan bridge across the river and take a left. Take any right turn you please, and the entrance is behind the very-hard-to-miss gigantic flagpole. The tour guide office is on the right side of the central gate.