Hue is about 2 hours drive north of Da Nang. It was the imperial capital of the Nguyen Dynasty and also the national capital until 1945 when the emperor was abdicated and a communist government was established in the north. Hue is well known for it historic monuments such as temples, tombs, but the highlight is of course the walled Imperial Citadel.
The Imperial City has been severely damaged during the war with most of the Purple Forbidden City, the innermost enclosure restricted to the imperial family, leveled. Regardless, it is still beautiful and the dilapidated condition has an air of melancholy of the glories of the past. Hue is also well known for its cuisine which is more refined, elegant, and light than other Vietnamese cities.
After our visit to the Imperial Citadel, we stopped by the Thien Mu Pagoda. This is a historic temple honoring the heavenly lady on the banks of the Perfume River. Legend has it that an old woman in white appeared here where the pagoda now stands and said that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Hearing the prophecy, Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda and named it “Heaven Fair Lady” or Thien Mu in Vietnamese.
Another place of interest in Hue is the Tu Doc Tomb. This is the tomb of the longest reigning emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Although he had over a hundred wives and concubines, he was unable to father a son, hence he had to write his own epitaph. The main portions of the tomb were completed long before his death and he used them as a palatial retreat. Despite the grandeur of the site, it was said that Tu Doc was buried in a different secret location in Hue. To this day, the location of the real tomb of Tu Doc is still unknown.