The Citadel in Hue was the home of the last Emperor of Vietnam and is a must to see when you visit this charming city in the centre of Vietnam. You enter through the gates of the Citadel and can visit some of the buildings in which the Emperor, his family and his entourage lived.
It is the Forbidden City of Vietnam where only the privileged were allowed to live or even visit. It was sadly the victim of serious bombing during the American/Vietnam war but there are still many of the original structures standing and there is now a great deal of sensitive restoration work being done.
Recently, however, I learnt a lot more about the Citadel in the wider sense. When you pay your Dong and enter the gates, you enter the Inner Citadel but there is also the Outer Citadel which was also a walled area. It would have been where the Mandarins lived, the educated me who served the government in one capacity or another. They did not live in the inner sanctum but in the outer area from where they could be called to service and support the system. And of course, this would also have been the area of the servants and the service providers of such exalted personnel.
Travelling by boat and cycle within the outer realms of the Citadel offers a unique and totally different view of the city of Hue. You can cycle along quiet roads where daily life reflects more of life in days gone by. Artisans create Votive money to burn as offerings to assist deceased relatives in their life in the other world. Specialist cooks create special rice dishes that are traditional food during the Vietnamese new year celebrations but are also given as offerings to the altars that all Vietnamese people have in their homes. And then there are the market gardeners who lease out land that buts up against the Citadel walls to grow produce that they sell in the local markets.
HGH Travel have developed a great half day tour using a boat and a bicycle to explore this area which makes a perfect addition to your tour inside the grand walls of the home of the last Emperor of Vietnam. You get to see some sights that you will not see and meet charming people who live well off the tourist track. Contact HGH for more information about the Citadel Tour or to see what else there is on offer at www.HGHTravel.com.