Sunday, March 30, 2014

Visiting Hue

While staying in Hoi An, we took a day to see the old Imperial Capital at Hue; it was the capital of the Nguyen Dynasty from 1902 till 1945.  We shared the experience with our friends David and Donna.  I have to admit, after seeing the ruins of ancient dynasties in Cambodia, this was rather a let down.. Perhaps it is because the restorations have just begun and they don't seem to have as many international NGOs helping.

The Citadel surrounded by an outside wall, 10 km in circumference and 21 meters thick.
There are elaborate entrance gates that lead to another enclosure for governmental buildings and finally a third center section that was reserved for the emperor and his family of wives, concubines, eunuchs and children.  Many of the buildings were destroyed in the war with France in the late 1940's.  But you get the sense of the majesty that was once there.

The wall and entrance gates:

These gates actually had mosaics made with glass and china that were beautiful originally.  I wish I could help restore them!  The dragons and flowers with intricate and amazing.

A family gazebo:

What is left of a grand staircase:

The gift shop, of course.  However, these souvenirs were antique brass and porcelain figures, tea cups and incense burners, handmade silk robes...not your ordinary souvenir junk.  

An interior of a shrine with inlaid mother-of-pearl and tile ceilings:

 One of the only fully restored exteriors...
Topiary gardens being worked on: 

Outside the Citadel, up in the mountains is where the emperors erected their tombs.  We only had time for one of them,

It is a vast complex of lakes, gardens, and shrines.  

 Here is some info about To Doc:    Work on the tomb started about 20 years before he died, and the tomb was used by him as a place of entertainment before he died.
He had 104 wives, numberless concubines, but no children.  Tu Duc was very short; less than 153 cm tall, (about 4 1/2 feet)  and all the statues of mandarins are shorter than this. Also in order to keep the secrets of the where the treasure was buried in the tomb compound all the 200 servants involved in the burial were beheaded. 

The stairway to the tomb of one of his adopted sons:

 One of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam is shopping for art.  Our friend had told us to look for the artists stalls on the way to To Duc's tomb.  We found a row shops along the highway selling oil paintings and incense.  

Incense sticks drying:

And artfully displayed:

An artist at work:

And two sculptors working on a Buddha from a tree trunk:

Grandma and baby where I bought my paintings:
 (I will add photos of my purchases after I get them framed...)

Next up:  Ha Long Bay!!

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