In the very centre of the Imperial Enclosure, there's almost nothing left of the once-magnificent Forbidden Purple City. This was a citadel-within-a-citadel-within-a-citadel and was reserved solely for the personal use of the emperor – the only servants allowed into this compound were eunuchs, who would pose no threat to the royal concubines. The Forbidden Purple City was almost entirely destroyed in the wars, and its crumbling remains are now overgrown with weeds.
Built for the Nguyen Dynasty, the entire city is surrounded by a 10km moat and 10 gates. The city is laid out so that there is a citadel within a citadel within a citadel. The first citadel of the city was populated by non-royal commoners. The next was built for important ceremonies. The final citadel is where the Purple Forbidden City was located. Besides royalty, the only ones allowed in this inner sanctum were eunuchs who served the family and the emperor’s concubines.
Built in the early 19th century, the palace grounds were designed by feng shui experts to optimize the energy flow. The structures within the city were meant to resemble the Forbidden City of Beijing. The Forbidden Purple City grew to have hundreds of different rooms and became a vast property.
The Forbidden City went through many hardships like typhoon, termites, but the most severe damage was made by the American and French wars - the city was flattened, only a few building survived. Since being declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city has been undergoing loving restoration, which provides a mix of both ruins and newly refurbished objects. Take care when you amble around the ruins as there are some gaping holes. Outside the city is the famed Imperial Citadel, a hidden charm of Vietnam.
Currently, a handful of the structures have been restored and its possible to tour them. Efforts will continue to try and bring the city back to its former glory. A visit to these ruins gives a very hopeful yet sometimes haunting vibe. The story of rebirth for this Forbidden City is very intriguing and is definitely well worth a visit. Royal Tomb of King Minh Mang, Thien Mu Pagoda and Dong Ba Market are recommended a trekking as well.
>>> Thrilled for other things to do in Hue rather than Hue Imperial City? See here