Hue, the seat of Nguyen Dynasty emperors and capital of the protectorate of Annam from 1802 to 1945, is a city in central Vietnam that. A major attraction is its vast, 19th-century citadel, surrounded by a moat and thick stone walls. It encompasses the Imperial City, with palaces and shrines; the Forbidden Purple City, once the emperor’s home; and a replica of the Royal Theater. The city was also the battleground for the Battle of Hue, which was one of the longest and bloodiest battles of the Vietnam War.
Hue originally rose to prominence as the capital of the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty that dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1802, Anh Phuc Nguyen (later Emperor Gia Long) succeeded in establishing his control over the whole of Vietnam, thereby making Hue the national capital.
During the French colonial period, Hue was in the protectorate of Annam. It remained the seat of the Imperial Palace until 1945, when Emperor Bao Dai abdicated and the government was established with its capital at Ha Noi, in the north.
During the Vietnam war, Hue, being very near the border between the North and South, was vulnerable in the Vietnam War. In the Tet Offensive of 1968, during the Battle of Hue, the city suffered considerable damage not only to its physical features, but its reputation as well, due to a combination of the American military bombing of historic buildings held by the North Vietnamese, and the massacre at Hue committed by the communist forces.
After the war’s conclusion, many of the historic features of Hue were neglected because they were seen by the victorious communist regime and some other Vietnamese as “relics from the feudal regime”; the Vietnamese Communist Party doctrine officially described the Nguyen Dynasty as “feudal” and “reactionary.” There has since been a change of policy, however, and many historical areas of the city are currently being restored.