Hue Ancient Capital and World Cultural Heritages

The citadel-city of Phu Xuan was built on the site of present-day Hue in 1687. In 1744, Phu Xuan became the capital of the southern part of Vietnam, which was under the rule of the Nguyen Lords. In 1802, Nguyen Anh Lord unified the country and crowned himself Emperor Gia Long, he renamed the city Hue and it served as Vietnam's political capital from 1802 to 1945 under the 13 emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Immediately upon his accession, Gia Long began decades-long construction of the Citadel, the Imperial City as well as a system of palaces and monuments in the area.

This includes material architecture with a complex of splendid and luxurious palaces, mausoleums, citadel and ramparts, temples and others. Moreover, an intangible heritage, consisting of precious spiritual sources, habits and customs, festivals, art branches, and traditional handicrafts, which were constructed by the great effort of generations, has given Hue city a salient and specific value, as well as its own unique identity.

This romantic land area had undergone many fierce wars and severe impacts of environment and climate. Consequently, the Hue monument complex was once seriously degraded. In a visit to Hue in November 1981, the General Director of UNESCO, Mr. Amadou Mahtar M’Bow had to appeal for ‘saving Hue’ with words from the bottom of his heart, “Hue, where the national culture identity is apparent, must be saved for Vietnam and the world because Hue is a component of mankind’s cultural heritage”. Many positive action programs have been implemented by Hue-UNESCO Workgroup and the Vietnamese authorities, in order to gradually restore and preserve the Hue monument complex since that appeal was put forth. The efforts made in the following twelve years have brought a happy result; namely that the Hue Ancient Capital City was listed in the world cultural heritages by the World Heritage Council in December 1993. It is written:  “Hue’s monument complex is a typical example of the urbanization and architecture of a defensive capital. It shows the power of Vietnam’s ancient feudal kingdom in the splendid age of the 20th century.” Hue’s monument complex has become the 410 th heritage site in the list of world heritages.

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