Imperial Hue Forbidden Citadel
Hue has chosen to be the capital city of the Southern Kingdom by all Nguyen Lords and officially became the capital under Tay Son’reign. For approximately 400 years, Hue has become a great landscape and architectural site. Hue’ royal complex has been officially recognized by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Situated on the Northern bank of the Perfume River, with an area of 500 ha and a system of three circles of ramparts, namely from outside to inside: Kinh Thanh (Capital Citadel), Hoang Thanh (Royal Citadel) and Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Citadel).
Thien Mu Pagoda
Built in 1601, between a river and a pine forest, the Thien Mu Pagoda (“Heavenly Lady Pagoda”) in Hue is one of the oldest and prettiest religious buildings in the country. Among the many interesting artifacts housed at the complex is the car that took the monk Thich Quang Duc to his self-immolation in 1963 Saigon.
The Thien Mu Pagoda has its roots in a local legend: an old woman once appeared on the hill and said that a Lord would come and build a Buddhist pagoda for the country’s prosperity. Hearing of this, Lord Nguyen Hoang ordered the construction of the pagoda of the “Heavenly Lady” (Thien Mu).
Thanh Toan Village
Thanh Toan is a wooden bridge, 4 m wide and 17 m long. Located at Thanh Thuy Village, it is about 8 km east of Hue City. The first bridge was built over two centuries ago by Mrs. Tran Thi Dao who offered funds to build a wooden bridge. Mrs. Dao was the wife of a high rank Mandarin under the reign of King Le Hien Tong.
The bridge was devastated by storms, floods and wars. The villagers together contributed to repair and renovate it many times. In 1991, it was recognized as one of the national vestiges.
Nowadays, the bridge attracts lots of tourists because of its old architecture and historical and cultural values. This tile-roofed bridge has been an inspiration to many local people and travellers, with its poems still being handed down or engraved right on the bridge.
Casting Bronze in Hue city
Situated on a small strip of land by the Huong River, about 3km southwest of the center of Hue City, the Hue bronze-casting guild was established in the years of the mid-17th century.
In the 1920s and 1930s the bronze-casting craftsmen established the “Southern industrial and commercial department” to gather and bring into play the artisans’ skills and develop the economy. Their techniques in casting and carving bronze have been shown in the works, such Thien Mu Pagoda’s plaques (1677), Thien Mu Pagoda’s bells (1710), cauldrons in the 17th century, Nine Guns (1803-1804) and Nine Urns (1835-1837).
These items were the most brilliant achievements of the bronze-casting art of Vietnam many centuries ago and have existed alongside the imperial city of Hue. For many years, innumerable unique bronze items in the old capital of Hue have been produced by talented bronze-casting artisans.
Tombs of Nguyen Dynasty
Spread out in the countryside near Hue, generally along the banks of the Perfume river, are the tombs on the Nguyen rulers who made Hue the capitol of Vietnam from 1802 to about 1945. There are six in all. We visited three. The tombs are in many different styles, but share many common characteristics.
Tomb of Gia Long
The tomb of the founder of Nguyen Dynasty is the furthest from town, and rarely visited.
The Tomb of Tu Duc
The Tomb of Tu Duc is probably the “one to see” if you only have limited time. It is the closest to Hue of the larger, more impressive tombs. The tomb is an enormous walled enclosure, practically a palace in its own right. In fact, the guidebooks and plaques on the walls will tell you that the emperor spent a lot of time here during the tomb’s three years of construction. It seems likely that the tomb site served as a sort of summer palace.
The Tomb of Minh Mang
The tomb of Minh Mang is the grandest of them all. It’s also the only one on the “left” bank of the Perfume river. A short drive from the tomb of Khai Dinh will bring you to a landing where you can hire a boat to take you across for a few dollars. However, if you’ve got the time, consider combining a boat trip to Thien Mu pagoda with travel on to the tomb of Minh Mang. By boat, getting to both places and back to central Hue will take the better part of a day.
The Tomb of Khai Ðinh
If the tomb of Tu Duc is “the sublime” then the tomb of Khai Dinh is the ridiculous. Unlike many of the other tombs, this one is built into the side of a hill, and is, essentially, all of one piece. It’s more European that the other tombs, having been built towards the end of the Nguyen period when the French were beginning to dominate the country. Parts of this concrete construction resemble a finely carved sugar confection.
Museums & Memorial houses
This provincial museum comprises two separate collections – one building houses displays of archaeological, historical and ethnological artefacts relating to the culture, history and development of the region and its various ethnic groups from the earliest times to the present day, whilst the other is a ‘Museum of Resistance against the US Invaders’ which focuses on the role played by the people of Huế in the Second Indochina War. The museum functions as the provincial government office responsible for museums development under the professional guidance of the National Cultural Heritage Department of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism in Hà Nội. It manages the following branch museums and a small memorial house dedicated to the memory of patriot Phan Boi Chau.
Hue Royal Fine-arts Museum
Location: Hue Royal Fine-arts Museum is located on 3 Le Truc Street, Hue City. Characteristic: The Hue Royal Fine-arts Museum is a gallery of antiques displaying collections of bronze, pottery, chinaware, Phap Lam enamel, court robes, head-gear and personal belongings of former Vietnam Emperors.
It is a 7-compartment, 2-bay building constructed in the “double” architecture, originally called the Long An Palace (Emperor’s Security) in the Bao Dinh Residence of Tay Loc precinct. When French troops took Bao Dinh Residence for their headquarters in 1885, Long An Palace was removed and materials were stored. But, in 1909, by order of Emperor Duy Tan, they were moved to the present-day site (3 Le Truc St.)
It served later as the Khai Dinh Museum in Emperor Khai Dinh’s time, in 1923. The building (former Long An Palace) housing the museum is a monument of remarkable value. The wooden panels are covered with 35 poems and essays composed by Emperor Thieu Tri.
Hue Garden Houses
An Hien Garden House
Originally the residence of Emperor Duc Duc’s 18th daughter, the An Hien garden house was transferred to Pham Dang Thap at the end of the nineteenth century. He was the son of Tu Du, a high-ranking mandarin under Emperor Gia Long. Twenty-five years later, it changed hands again and was finally passed on to Nguyen Dinh Chi, a provincial leader, in 1936.
When Mr. Chi died, his widow took over the ownership of the house and has been the householder ever since. Mrs Dao Thi Yen is well known in Hue city as an anti-colonial agitator in the 1920s, a teacher and school principal, and a National Assembly member who achieved high office.
The entrance to An Hien is from the road that runs alongside the Perfume River. A short flight steps lead through large gateway, richly decorated with symbols and designs. From there, a path leads through the garden to a wind-screen, a white painted brick wall designed to prevent both harsh wind and deny curious eyes a view of the house from the gate.
Between the wind-screen and the house is a large rectangular lily-pond.
The house is an excellent example of traditional Vietnamese architecture. A large tiled roof is supported by massive pillars thus creating three large bays, the middle of which houses the family altar. Most of the timber is ironwood, but the four central pillars are of Jackfruit wood. Beams and doors are richly carved and ornamented.
The house and garden take up almost five thousand square metres of land. The garden surrounds the house on all sides, and is full of flowers and fruit trees.
A richly decorated gate leads into a classic garden with many varieties of flowers. Popular flowers such as jasmine, pomegranate, sunflowers and indigenous roses mingle with exotic species of orchids.
Jasmine, pergularia, pomegranate, sunflowers, climbing roses and wild indigenous roses jostle for attention with exotic species of orchids. A feature of An Hien garden is a large camellia presented by a Japanese Flower Association.
The garden contains many precious fruit trees characteristic of all three of Vietnam’s regions: lychees, persimmon and pears from the north, mangosteen and durian from the south and pomelo, jackfruit and oranges from the south, and many others. Several have been brought from afar, and some are rare, particularly a Tien Dien persimmon renown for its delicious seedless fruits every July.
Sitting in the shade overlooking the pond, one senses the essence of the carefully planned and executed complementary elements of the house, the garden, the use of water and the other traditional features. The overall impression is of elegance, tranquillity and harmony, and a deep sense of a continuous link to the past as a guide to the future.
Ngoc Son Garden House
Princess Ngoc Son was a daughter of Emperor Dong Khanh – when she married, her father granted her the land to build a home. Today, it is one of the best garden houses and has been maintained largely in its original form.
The present owner, Phan Thuan An, is a direct descendent of the Imperial Court. His grandfather was Emperor Khai Dinh’s senior Mandarin, a post he also held under Emperor Bao Dai. Mr. An is a tall, urbane, elegant, cultured man devoted to his house and the culture of Hue and Vietnam. An ex-History Professor, he has written several books including the seminal work on Hue’s culture and architecture.
Mr An is a mine of information, which he dispenses in measured amounts in the manner of a committed teacher. He dresses in the male version of the ‘au dai’, Vietnam’s traditional costume, and his erect posture and calm manner clearly identifies his royal lineage.
The house is a classic Vietnamese house with three bays and two wings. In the middle of the central bay stands an altar to Buddha and behind it is the altar used for ancestor worship.
Mr. An has a fascinating collection of artefacts and mementos from the days of Empire. A valuable collection of ceramics, including a Ming Dynasty bowl, medals, photos and personal items once owned by his ancestors is a window to the past.
One of his treasured items is an ancient copy of National Geographic with an article and many photographs of the Hue Royal Court. He’ll show you the picture of his ancestor alongside the Emperor and point out the rectangular medallion pinned to his chest as his badge of office. Proudly, he then reaches into his cabinet to place the heavy silver medallion in your hand to examine the Chinese characters denoting his rank.
Both garden and house have been planned methodically in accordance with the rules of geomancy and the principles of feng-shui. The house faces in the correct direction to minimize the influence of malevolent spirits. The rear of the house backs on to a busy road: the consequent muffling of the traffic noise was an unforeseen benefit at the time it was built. There is a screen to deter ‘bad’ winds, a pond with symbols and plants representing the elements of Vietnam, the attendant dragon and lying tiger, guardian lions, and all the other elements to balance the ying and yang of the garden house, and thus its inhabitants.
The overall effect is a pleasing harmony of architecture, humanity and the nature, another world away from the noisy, effervescent atmosphere of modern urban life in Hue.
The integrity of the elements of the Ngoc Son garden house makes it a priceless cultural treasure and a compelling destination for anyone interested in Chinese and Vietnamese traditional culture.
Lac Tinh Garden House
Just under two thousand square metres in area, the Lac Tinh garden was created in 1889 by the poet Hong Khang. It has a cool, calm ambiance. A symmetrical arrangement of two rows of hibiscuses, roses, laurels and ochna atropurpurea run alongside the path leading to the house. Under the trees are small tables and chairs for enjoying the view and drinking tea and at the end of the path, a stylised book-shaped latticework wind-screen reduces the separation between the house and its surrounding as well as shielding it from prying eyes and ‘bad’ winds.
There are actually four houses adjacent to each other in the Lac Tinh garden, each with its own name connected to the owner.
The Nhan Hau (Benevolent) house is used for receiving guests, enjoying the moon and flowers and distributing relief for the poor. It uses an open design of parterres and bonsais to define the area around the house instead of walls.
The Hy Tran Trai house is located in the middle of the garden and maintains the conventions of classic Vietnamese architecture. The main bay has fifty-nine iron wood columns supporting the flat tiled roof, and the rafters are carved with images of dragons, Chinese characters and so on.
The Van Trai house is a place for working and relaxing, and the Di Tam Thich The Duong house is for studying and accommodation for the families’ children.
The architecture and arrangement of the decoration and features give all four houses an ancient appearance and a strong impression of elegance and refinement. They seem to encourage lightness of step and softness of voice, and a desire for a gentler, more cultured lifestyle.
Y Thao Garden House
The 1,300-square-metre garden of the Y Thao garden house was constructed fifty years ago, but the house is comparatively modern. The owner has maintained the integrity of most of the garden and added some distinctive elements, notably a traditional dining room and two interesting antique collections.
The centerpiece of the garden is a large stone rockwork serving the dual purpose of a symbolic mountain and acting as a wind-screen. On the left-hand side of the garden, a smaller rockwork is arranged on a theme of the Green Dragon, the Chinese symbol, and to the right, the White Tiger rockwork symbolizes the East. The latter has been recently subsumed into a new development including a small water garden, (complete with an invisible, but highly voluble, frog) and a small dining room designed as a triple bay traditional house.
Elsewhere five more rockworks on and around the lawn symbolize the five famous mountains of the East. They are surrounded by a carefully chosen collection of trees, carefully nurtured by the owner.
Inside the Y Thao garden house are two collections including good examples of Hue’s fine artwork. One contains around two hundred blue ceramics produced during the reign of Le-Trinh King, a Nguyen Lord who lived over three hundred years ago. The various plates, bowls and other utensils are arranged in two sections, those used by the Royal Family, and those used by the mandarins. Their antique appearance and dynastic titles written in Chinese characters and demotic Vietnamese script are impressive.
The second collection displays traditional Hue mirror painting. The artworks include paintings inlaid with nacre, portraits of princesses, scenes from classical drama, and many more.
However, for most of our guests, the main attraction Y Thao garden house is the vegetarian and non-vegetarian Hue specialty dishes. The owner is a skilled cook, so the food is very good, and her recipes have been handed down through the family. She includes at least one of the Hue ‘Royal’ dishes in the menu. The quality of service matches that of the food.
There are two dining areas, a covered patio area next to the lawn, and the new dining room on the other side of the house. For us, there was no contest. The small dining room, elevated above garden level is a joy. Elegantly fashioned in ironwood and other traditional materials, it overlooks the garden, and a small balcony stands just above the water garden. The quiet, broken only by the gentle trickle of water and the occasional frog croak, made us want to hold our breath and hope that the meal would take a long time to arrive.
Towards the end of the meal, a small vase of shiny plastic miniature fruits on stalks appeared – a lapse of good taste, we thought. Wrong! They were a work of art fashioned in green bean paste, very sweet, but definitely more-ish.
The Y Thao is an ideal place for lunch or dinner: good food, a congenial host, and an unhurried meal in an attractive setting. Include the garden, ceramics and artworks, and you can see why we add it to our Hue itineraries.
Tinh Gia Garden House
The first owner of Tinh Gia was a princess who lived four generations ago. In 1979, it became the property of Nguyen Huu Van, a musician and a nephew of Mr Nguyen Huu Ba, the owner of Ty Ba Trang.
Mr Huu Van is an avid collector of bonsai. He has amassed over three hundred different species, most of which surround a spectacular rockwork construction with a waterfall and small clouds of mist. Some of his specimens could be classified as unique works of art, such as a 150-year-old apricot bonsai, and a cycas bonsai begun more than two centuries ago.
However, Ton Nu Thi Ha, the owner’s wife, began offering meals based upon the complicated cuisine of the Hue Imperial Court a few years ago. As she is a famous Vietnamese chef with many Vietnamese and international medals and awards for culinary excellence, she was successful in attracting a sizeable clientele.
Consequently, the dining function has now swallowed up most of rooms in the house, but unlike the unfortunate Ty Ba Trang garden house (the garden transformed into a standard Vietnamese restaurant and the house empty and deserted), Mrs. Ha has stayed true to the combined cultural traditions of bonsai and Hue’s Imperial cuisine.
The Tinh Gia garden house lacks many of the distinct features of garden houses, and Mrs. Ha lacks the time to explain the intricacies and symbolism of the large rockwork that dominates the garden or the bonsais. Cooking is close to her heart, however, so guests can explore the complexities of royal food and dining. You’ll need a guide to interpret for you, though.
Many of Hue’s larger restaurants and hotels offer tourists meals in Royal dining rooms or large-scale banquets, complete with full sets of robes and uniforms for dressing up to play at being members of the Imperial Court. At Haivenu, we frown upon such obvious bakery. However, if trying a Royal meal interests you, you might find Mrs. Ha’s garden house a better bet – probably cheaper, more authentic and better prepared, and you’re not expected to play silly games.
Vong Canh Hill
Vong Canh hill is 600m from the tombs of Tu Duc and Dong Khanh, 7km from the center of Hue City. Vong Canh Hill is a place where tourists can enjoy the lovely panorama of Hue especially the Kings Nguyen’s tombs.
Hon Chen Temple
Location: Hon Chen Temple is standing just on the bank of the Perfume River inclined to poetic dreams and 10km upstream of Hue City.
Characteristic: Hon Chen Temple for cult of Po Nagar, the Goddess of the ancient Cham minority. After then, the Vietnamese continued the cult and name the Goddess as Heaven Goddess Y A Na.
This temple for Goddess appeared in this place centuries ago, but with a very simple design, and after then, reconstructed with a larger and more beautiful architectural scale in 1886.
Hon Chen Temple is situated at a lovely site seated on the slope of the mountain Ngoc Tran (Jade – cup) with sheer cliff and mirroring in the deep blue water of the Perfume River.
Ho Quyen (Tiger Arena)
Location: Ho Quyen is located on the south bank of the Perfume River and 4km from the Hue Citadel.
Characteristic: Ho Quyen was built in 1830. It is a unique construction, open air and solidly built as a citadel. The coliseum consists of two concentric circles built with bricks and mortar.
Ho Quyen was the arena where duels between elephants and tigers were arranged for the entertainment of the Emperor, the royal family and mandarins. In the old time, the duels Ho Quyen were held once a year. The last one was organized here in 1904 in the reign of Thanh Thai.
The first staircase with 20 steps was exclusively reserved for the Emperor and royal family leading up to the rectangular tribune with the surface of 96m², the height of 1.5m. Looking down from the tribune, people can see the cavity with the coliseum. The second staircase, with 15 steps was used by the soldiers and the common people leading up to the earthen part. Between the two staircases is a big entrance 1.9m wide and 3.9m high for the elephants to enter the coliseum.
The way running around above this curved door is narrowed into a small bridge across the curved door. Under it is a big two-wing wooden door with stone hinges which still remain undamaged. Opposite to the tribune for the Emperor on the other side of the arena are five cages for tigers and leopards. Above the middle cage is a stone sign inscribed the two Chinese words “Ho Quyen”.
Ho Quyen is a unique architectural work rarely found in South East Asia. Though it is not as huge as the arenas of the Emperor Romance but it still bears an outstanding figure and creates a martial and imposing atmosphere.
Tu Dam Pagoda
Location: Tu Dam Pagoda is located in the Truong An Ward, 2km from the centre of Hue City, along Dien Bien Phu Street, across Nam Giao Bridge up to the end of the first slope.
Characteristic: Tu Dam Pagoda was designed following the model of a Conference Pagoda (Chua Hoi). The old and new architectures blend together creating spacious and harmonious elements.
Tu Dam Pagoda is one of the biggest and oldest pagodas in Hue. The pagoda was founded at the end of the 17th century (in about 1695) by the Venerable Minh Hoang Tu Dung, a Chinese who belonged to the 34th sect of the Lam Te school of Zen. He was the high-ranking monk who taught and gave the certification to monk Lieu Quan, the Buddhist initiator of Vietnam in the south. Tu Dam Pagoda is famous and nationally known for its important role in the process of development of Buddhism, and the struggle for peace and for freedom of religion.
Tu Dam Pagoda is on a beautiful piece of land: high, wide and flat. It has a south-east orientation. Kim Phung Mount in the front served as a natural wind-screen. Linh Quang Pagoda and the temple dedicated to respectable patriot Phan Boi Chau stand on the left and Thien Minh Pagoda in the back. The three main parts of the pagoda are the three entrance-gates, the main sanctuary and the conference House. The gate is high and wide with a tiled roof. Just inside the gate is a big bodhi tree, providing shadow all year around.
As a branch, this bodhi tree was taken right from the bodhi tree under which Buddha reached Nirvana. Mrs Karpeies, Head of the French Buddhist Association, brought it back from India as a present offered to the pagoda and planted it there in 1936. The pagoda yard was built on a very large surface so that it can provide enough space for thousands of people. Every year, on Buddha’s birthday, it is a gathering place where many important and most crowded festivals of Hue’s Buddhists take place.
The main sanctuary consists of a service hall and an ancestors’ altar. The service hall was built on a marble foundation 1.5m high with an old style roof forming a towering and impressive Pagoda. On the edge and top of the roof are many curving, gentle, symmetric pairs of dragons creating a well-balanced and harmonious beauty? Under the ancient roof are frescoes telling Buddha’s stories. Many long couplets are hung on the pillars of the Service hall. The building is flanked by two stele and drum towers.
Tu Dam Pagoda worships one Buddha only, so that its appointments are rather simpler than that of other pagodas in Hue. In the temple, there is a Buddha Sakyamuni sitting on a lotus pedestal. There are an ancestors’ altar house and a monks’ house behind the main temple. The two storeys Conference Hall is large and wide building with 10 rooms to meet the requirements of a Conference Pagoda.
Tu Hieu Pagoda
Location: Tu Hieu Pagoda is located at Duong Xuan Thuong III Hamlet in Thuy Xuan Village, 5km southwest of Hue City.
Characteristic: Pagoda was built in the shape of the Chinese character “Khau” (mouth), with the main building consisting of three rooms and two wings. It faces the southeast and uses Ngu Binh Mount as a front screen.
The pagoda was originally a small hut built by Nhat Dinh in 1843, who was formerly recognized by royal authority as the monk of Giac Hoang Pagoda. In 1848, the pagoda was restored by monk Cung Ky with the help of the king’s eunuchs and courtiers. Tu Hieu hence became a large pagoda.
In 1894, it was rebuilt by Cuong Ky with the support of King Thanh Thai and the King’s eunuchs created the half-moon lake. In 1962, the pagoda was renovated by Most Ven Chon Thiet. And in 1971 the three-entrance gate and the staff houses were rehabilitated by senior monk Chi Niem.
The main sanctuary is devoted to the worship of Buddha. Behind there is a room honoring former monks of the pagoda. Across a courtyard, the Quang Hieu Duong Hall houses an altar dedicated to local Buddhist devotees on the right, another to the deity Quan Cong in the center, and a third to eunuchs on the left. A separate altar in this hall honors Le Van Duyet, an outstanding mandarin during the reign of Emperor Gia Long. On the left side of the courtyard is the living quarters of the monks (Ta Lac Thien) and to Tu Hieu right is the guest-house (Huu Ai Nhat).
The entrance gate to the pagoda is a curved two storey structure. On the second storey, a statue of the guardian spirit Ho Phap protects the pagoda. Inside the gate is a crescent-lotus pond. On both sides of the courtyard are stele houses engraved with the history of the pagoda.
Hermitage Bien Duc Thien An
Location: Hermitage Bien Duc Thien An is situated on the Thien An Hill, between the tombs of Thieu Tri and Ming Mang, about 6km from the southwest of Hue ancient capital.
Characteristic: The Hermitage Bien Duc Thien An, usually name Thien Duc Hermitage, has been founded in Summer 1940 by the Bien Duc French hermits with the name of Thien An (Peace from Heaven).
The hermitage is formerly managed as an infirmary and a school. To day the hermitage is only a place for religious formation.
The hermitage is surrounded by a quiet pine forest. Walking in this Thien An pine hill, the tourist would think he is somewhere in the forests around Da Lat. Here is the Thuy Tien Lake, and there the Luu Ly Lake, all this contribute to enhance the charm, the poetic and dreamy spell of the Thien An Hill, making it a tourism and entertainment site.
The hermitage with this quiet and silent environment helps its members to deepen in their religious meditations, and also creates more favorable conditions to all those who come here to fray and search for peace of mind.
Ho Chi Minh Museum in Hue city
Location: Ho Chi Minh Museum is arranged in a two-storey building on No.6 Le Loi Street looking over the lovely Perfume River.
Characteristic: Many exhibits and pictures about the life and revolutionary activities of President Ho Chi Minh are displayed here, especially introduce the ten years He lived in Hue.
A visit to Ho Chi Minh Museum will help tourists to understand more about the life and the career of President Ho Chi Minh, the venerable leader of Vietnam, to understand more about the unlimited esteem of the people of Thua Thien-Hue to Uncle Ho.
Hue National School (Quoc Hoc Hue)
Location: The school was built on the site of a former squadron headquarter – a royal navy headquarters (1806 or the 5th year of Gia Long’s Reign).
Characteristic: Hue National School was founded pursuant to the royal decree dated September 17, 1896 (the 8th year of Thanh Thai Reign) and the decree on November 18, 1896 of the French Resident-Superior in Indochina.
Hue National School was founded in order to train those who would serve the feudal colonial government, so in the study curricula French was the main subject. The conditions of the students accepted by Hue National School:
– The sons of the King’s relatives.
– The sons of royal families.
– The mandarins’ sons.
– The students of Thanh Nhon School and Quoc Tu Giam School.
In 1915, when the decree annulling Emperor ancient exam in the province and the ancient exam of the capital in the North was issued, Hue National School was rebuilt. The rows of thatch roofed apartments were torn down and replaced by two rows of buildings, the walls made of brick, the roof covered with tiles. It was solid, and comfortable according to the western European architecture. Most of the architectures are still extant.
In 1932, the school opened many specialized classes and its name was changed into Khai Dinh Lycee. During the resistance against French Colonialists on December 19, 1946, the school was moved into two places and followed the resistance:
– One branch: the 1st stage with the name “Binh Tri Thien School” was situated in Huong Khe, Ha Tinh Province.
– The branch of 2nd stage school with the name “Huynh Thuc Khang School” was situated in Duc Tho, Ha Tinh Province. The branch returned to Hue after ten years of interruption, and was occupied by colonialists as a barrack on April 29th, 1955, the school was restored and has resumed normal operation.
Canh Duong Beach
Location: Canh Duong Beach is located about 60km from Hue City, between the two mountains: Western Chan May and Eastern Chan May.
Characteristic: Canh Duong is one of the most beautiful beaches of Thua Thien-Hue Province with the length of 8km, 200m wide, bended in arc shape.
Gradually sloping beach, white and fine sand, transparent and limpid sea water and fairly windless, the beach is ideal for all activities of tourism and sport.
Lang Co Beach
Location: With its 10km in length, Lang Co Beach bordered a section of the National Highway No1A, nearly Hai Van Pass, and 24km from Bach Ma Area.
Characteristic: In Lang Co Sea, there are various kind of shrimps, lobster, sea shrimp, crab, butter-fish, mackerel fish, oysters…
With its gradually slopping, white sand beach, the average depth of less than 1m and the average temperature in the bathing season of 25°C, Lang Co is an ideal beach for tourists.
Not far from the beach, there is Chan May scenery, Lang Co fishing Village.
Mineral Stream of My An
Location: My An is located in Phu Duong Commune, Phu Vang District, 7km east of Hue, on the way to Thuan An Beach.
Characteristic: This stream can be compared to various well-known mineral streams, such as Koundour (former Soviet Union) or Pavel Banis (Bulgaria).
In June 1979, geological and meteorological expedition No.79 discovered this natural stream. After multiple scientific studies and experiments, the project “Studying medical qualities of the mineral stream in My An” came to the conclusion that the mineral water in My An includes every micro-element necessary for the human body.
Tests concerning the medicinal value of the mineral water have had positive results. The water of this stream can be used to successfully treat several skin and venereal diseases, rheumatism, digestion, mental, respiratory and other chronic diseases.
At present, many local and foreign patients come to My An for self-treatment. Huong Giang Tourist Company and related administrative bodies of Thua Thien – Hue have begun to take advantage of this mineral source by developing what will be the first tourist resort in Central Vietnam to focus on medical treatment by mineral water.
Ngu Binh Mountain
Location: Ngu Binh Mountain is located in Hue City
Characteristic: Ngu Binh Mountain was called Bang Son (Even Mount) and renamed Ngu Binh by Emperor Gia Long. It was chosen as a screen in front of the Hue Capital City.
The 105m Ngu Binh has a striking and symmetric figure. On both sides of the Bang Son (Even Mount) are 2 small mounts called Ta Bat Son (Left Mount) and Huu Bat Son (Right Mount). Its top is flat with pine trees every where. The Nguyen Dynasty was established and decided to build up the Hue Capital City.
Together with the Perfume River, Ngu Binh Mount is the second invaluable gift endowed by Nature to Hue. These two mingle with each other creating the Romantic Mountain and river beauty of Hue. For a long time, this beautiful mount and the blue limpid Perfume River have become the symbol of Hue City. Therefore, people often call Hue “The land of the Perfume River (Huong River) and Ngu Binh Mount” or “Huong-Ngu Land”.
For many centuries, many generations of poets and travelers have recognized it a wonderful place to admire nature. On fine days, from the top of Ngu Binh Mount, people can view all the sights of Hue City with magnificent palaces, ancient pagoda roofs and the blue limpid Perfume River winding in and out… Right in front of people’s eyesight stretch boundless pine forests on the hills and large plains of Huong Thuy, Phu Vang, Huong Tra Districts with green plants and trees. In the distance is the endless dark purple Truong Son range hidden behind silver clouds… Towards the east is a dim white sand strip and Thuan An Estuary in the distance with the deep blue Eastern Sea.
Some kilometers away from Ngu Binh Mount is Vong Canh Hill, another beautiful spot of Hue which reflects itself charmingly in the Perfume River, opposite to Ngoc Tran Mount. From the Vong Canh Hill, people can behold green fruit gardens with areca palm, longan, orange, mandarin, grape fruit shades, etc. Mingling with pine trees, grey roofs of pagodas and temples, as well as the ancient and meditative tombs… The Perfume River looks like a soft silk strip winding at the foot of the hill. Once tourists come here at mist fading dawn or in sunset, they will understanding and are heartfelt the romantic beauty of a hill, a river, a corner of Hue’s sky…
Tam Giang Lagoon
Location: Tam Giang Lagoon is located in Huong Tra District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Characteristic: Tam Giang Lagoon has a depth of 2 – 4m, in some places, of 7m, the immense water surface is an area of important economic activity bringing high income with its sea products.
Thua Thien-Hue Province plain along the sea coast has many lagoons, such as those of Tam Giang, Thuy Tu, Lap An, into them are converged the water of almost all the rivers of the province of Thua Thien Hue before going to the sea, through the mouths of Thuan An, Tu Hien, or through the great lagoon of Lang Co.
Tam Giang and Cau Hai are the 2 biggest lagoons with fresh water, the 2 most representative lagoons in Vietnam with a length of 70km for the whole of the two, they form an ideal habitant for many sea species all along the province.
Yearly thousands tons of sea products are brought on here (fish, shrimps and others). In the recent years, the cultivation and raising of sea products, mainly the raising of shrimps and cultivation of “gracilaria” has developed in this zone of lagoons.
An Truyen Festival
Time: 16th day of the seventh lunar month.
Place: Phu Vang District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Objects of worship: God of opening rice paddies Ho Quang Lanh and families Nguyen, Huynh, Doan.
Characteristics: Procession of god, chess playing, cock fighting.
Chi Long Village Festival
Time: 12th to the 13th day of the sixth lunar month. The main festival day on the 13th day of the sixth lunar month.
Phong Chuong Commune, Phong Dien District, Thua Thien Hue Province.
Objects of worship: Lady Dai Cang (in the 15th century), who had merit of escorting 4 heads of clan (Le, Nguyen, Vo, Tran) reclaimed wasteland and set up the village.
Characteristics: Ky phuoc ceremony, procession of heads of clan’s votive tablets, túc yêt ceremony (includes: reading funeral oration, bong dancing, incense offering). The offerings include the whole pig and ox. After worshipping, some offerings are put on paper boat and floated on river. The custom of avoiding going to the forest and no fire from morning to evening.
Co Bi Village Festival
Time: 23rd day of the fifth lunar month
Place: Co Bi Village, Phong Son Commune, Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Objects of worship: God of the opening rice paddies.
Characteristics: Procession of worship-conferring diploma from Dinh Shrine to the communal house, chess playing, cock fighting.
Gia Lac Spring Fair Festival
Time: 1st to the 3rd day of the first lunar month.
Place: Phu Thuong Commune, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien-Huê Province.
Objects of worship: Dinh Vien Cong, 6th son of King Gia Long.
Characteristics: Spring festive holiday, organized only in 3 days of Tet every year.
The festival was organized during Minh Mang Dynasty, but at first it was confined inside the royal families and later it became the spring fair for everyone. The market opens from the first day morning of Tet in Gia Lac, 3km from the center of Hue City, toward Vi Da. Goods are abundant and change every year, from household utensils to toys for children, cakes, fruits and food, especially barbecued beef (or veal) – an indispensable dish in Tet holiday at Gia Lac.
Many games take place in the festive days, including sing the songs of bai choi, bai ve, gia gao (sing while pounding the rice), repartee songs… People go to Gia Lac Spring Fair Festival pray for lucks and entertainment.
Hon Chen Temple Festival
Time: The 3rdday of the third lunar month (spring festival) and the seventh lunar month (autumn festival).
Place: Ngoc Tran Mountain and Hai Cat Communal House, Huong Tra District, Thua Thien Hue Province.
Objects of worship: The Holy Mother Thien Y A Na (Mother of homeland), who created the land and the tree, the forest and taught people the art of growing these trees.
Characteristics: Having a procession on the Huong River.
This is the traditional festival in Hue with many rites. The Holy Mother procession takes place on the Huong River at night which starts from Hue Nam Temple to Hai Cat Communal House with a long line of boats bound together into big rafts. In the festival night, everyone wears court dress look like prince and princess in the Nguyen Dynasty. At the end of the festival are ceremonies of releasing and floating anterns.
Minh Huong Festival
Time: From the 14th to the 16th day of the seventh lunar month.
Place: Minh Huong Village, Dien Hai Commune, Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Objects of worship: God of the opening rice paddies.
Characteristics: Procession of god, boat racing, great worshipping is held in once every 3-year.
Phong Son Sacrifices-offering Ceremony
Time: 7th day of the first lunar month.
Place: Phong Son Commune, Phong Dien District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Objects of worship: God of stone.
Characteristics: The opening ceremony of the year: During this day, people cast a net or go to the forest by waterways for hunting.
Phu Cam Conical Hat Village
Location: Phu Cam Village is also known as Phuoc Vinh Ward, lying right in Hue inner city, south of An Cuu river bank.
Characteristics: Hue conical hat or Phu Cam conical hat has not only a beautiful form but also modest color. It is light and so thin that light seems to pierce through it. Through natural light, one can see Hue landscapes with verses engraved on paper placed between two layers of leaves.
The conical hat form depends primarily on its frame, ensuring the technique of shaping the top, and of keeping equal distance between brims and roundness of brims. After the frame, comes the selection of hat leaves which should have a greenish white color. Leaves should be neither too young nor too old, only 8-9 are enough for making one hat. Following the choice of leaves is the process of drying and treatment.
The Hue graceful conic hat has a frame of 16 big and small brims. Brims are curved into circumferences with the two ends skillfully tied by a small cotton thread. Handicraft workers carefully place and stitch greenish white leaves on the frame with a special thread made of transparent resistant silk.
“Non Bai Tho” – Conical hat with inscribed verses – is an integral part of Hue culture. The production of hats in Hue is not only a handicraft but also an art which provides the society with artistic products.
Phu Xuan Communal House Festival
Time: 5th to the 6th day of the sixth lunar month
Place: Thai Phien Street, Tay Loc Ward, Hue City, Thua Thien Hue Province.
Objects of worship: The genies of founding the village.
Characteristics: Tam sinh sacrifice (use three animals: ox, pig, and goat as offerings to sacrifice to the god).
Thai Duong Festival
Time: 23rd day of the twelfth lunar month.
Place: Thai Duong Village, Thuan An Commune, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien Hue Province.
Objects of worship: Goddess Thai Duong (miraculous mystical stone).
Characteristics: Procession of the Goddess to Thai Duong Shrine for making sacrifice gian.
Thanh Phuoc Festival
Time: 22nd day of the sixth lunar month.
Place: Thanh Phuoc Village, Huong Phong Commune, Huong Tra District, Thua Thien-Hue Province.
Objects of worship: Village’s tutelary god Phan Niem, who followed King Le Thanh Tong to Binh Chiem fighting invaders and his wife, Lady Ky Thach (stone goddess). People worship them in the shrine.
The wrestling competitions Festival of Sinh Village
Time: 9th to the 10th day of the first lunar month.
Place: Lai An Village, Phu Mau Commune, Phu Vang District, Thua Thien Hue Province.
Characteristics: Traditional wrestle festival.
The festival is not only attracting the youths of the village but also thousands of young boys and girls coming here from various districts and Hue City. It takes place in animated and crowded context. The wrestling competition Festival of Sinh Village symbolizes for the martial arts of the inhabitants of Hue in the past centuries.