Occupying the most important position in the Hue Imperial City, the Palace of Supreme Harmony houses the throne seated by thirteen Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty from Gia Long to Bao Dai. During Vietnam’s monarchy, the Emperor was considered the greatest lord. The palace was thus once the country’s center.
Hue Imperial citadel was built in 1805. Improvement and large-scale restoration work took place twice in 1833 and 1923. It is almost square in shape, 2,400m in circumference and pierced on each side by an entrance: Noon Gate, Hoa Binh Gate, Hien Nhon Gate and Chuong Duc Gate
Hue Imperial City, together with the Esplanade of Great Salutation, was the site for serious festive occasions such as the Coronation Ceremony, Emperor’s Birthday Anniversary Ambassador Interview Ceremony and Grand Meeting held bimonthly on the first and 15th days of the lunar month.
On these occasions, the Emperor sat solemnly on the throne. Only his immediate relatives had access to the palace. Other mandarins lined on the Court according to their ranks and titles from the first to ninth grade, civil mandarins on the left, military mandarins on the right. Their positions were marked by two rows of stone slabs on the Court.
The wooden canopy over the throne is elaborately carved and gilded. Eighty ironwood columns in the palace are lacquered and adorned with dragon and cloud designs symbolizing the rendezvous between the monarch and his subjects. According to Chinese Classics, both the dragon and the number nine symbolize the monarch. This explains the presence of the nine-dragon motif in and outside the palace which is also ornamented with poems in Chinese characters of great literary value.
Hue Imperial City is the largest and most splendid of ancient Vietnam that remains these days. It has been esteemed historically, culturally, artistically and offered painstaking conservation.