On the Trail of the Imperial Dynasties of Vietnam


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January 27th 2006
Published: February 25th 2006
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Ngat Dao in the ancient citadel of Hoa Lu. Hoa Lu citadel covered 3 sq km encompassing temples, shrines and the king's palace. Much has been destroyed in the Vietnam/American War but still has a lot to see.
On the Trail of the Imperial Dynasties of Vietnam

My introduction to Vietnam's past really began in Hanoi as I visited all the great museums they have there. They were so well done and interesting. Also, not all of the statues and memorials are of Ho Chi Minh but also of past rulers of the great dynasties of Vietnam.

Biking South on Highway One takes you close to all of the great citadels, Imperial Courts and tombs of Vietnam's past rulers. Unfortunately, a lot of these great works were destroyed during the Vietnam/American War. You get one side of the story from the Vietnamese government. Like: "This was destroyed by an American bomb." They never tell you that it was being used by their army for an observation post etc.

However, Hoi An, Dalat are examples of two cities that both sides observed as no fire ground and both cities were spared. Why that was not done in places like Hue I don't know.

The first place we found was Hoa Lu. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam during the Dinh (968-80) and early Le 980-1009 dynasties. This site is located in the Yen Ngua Mountain
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Ngat near a throne use by servants to carry the King.
and is spectacularly scenic. The mountains provided a natural protection of this Royal court.

The next royal court was in Quang Tri, The Citadel. This was almost completely destroyed in the Eastertide Offensive in the spring of 1972. Four divisions of North Vietnamese invaded the city and were driven out at the cost of 5 thousand South Vietnamese. All that was left of the Citadel was a pile of rocks and a little of the old French Prison depicted in an earlier Blog.

The main seat of Royal Power, Courts, Tombs has been historically the city of Hue. It has been the heartbeat of Vietnam where political intrigue, religious worship and educational excellence took place. It is still a wonderful place to visit. One of the features of Hue is good food. It is said that one reason the food is so good is that the former Emperors of Vietnam placed a great deal of interest in food and so innovation of recipes originated there. Anyway, the food is good. They are on the coast so fish is fresh and plentiful.

The most imposing site in Hue is the Citadel. This was the home of the Nguyen
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Temple Le Dai Hanh commemorates the ruler of the early Le dynasty. Inside the main hall are an assortment of drums,m gongs, incense burners and weapons.
dynasty which ruled the country from 1802 to 1945. Much of their rule was under the thumb of the French but in name only they were the longest ruling dynasty.

Just South of Hue you start seeing the relics of the Cham period in Vietnam's history. This was an entirely different culture and people that the Viets. They are shorter, darker and have different customs. They are still in Vietnam and have not assimilated that much. In their culture the women selects the man for marriage. The children take the woman's last name and so on. If one of them marries out of their race they have to leave the village.



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Ngat on the grounds of one of the temples at Hoa Lu.
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Ngat at Hoa Lu.
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Me trying to fit in a cell of the old French Prison at the citadel at Quang Tri. The remains of the prison is about all that is left of this once important royal court.
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An entrance to a royal tomb. The center entrance was for the King, the lower side entrances were for his military and civilian advisors.
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A statue of a mandarin who advised the King.
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One of the buildings at Hue which housed the Royal family.
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To Mieu Temple information.
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Tomb of Tu Duc.
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Beautiful grounds of the Temple To Mieu in Hue.
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The last Emperor Bao Dai's epitaph to his father Emperor Khai Dinh at Khai Dinh's tomb. Khai Dinh was Emperor from 1916 to 1925.
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The building that housed the Queen.
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Entrance to the pagoda at Hue Citidel.
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Cham structures at My Son mountain area.
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One of the many temples in the My Son mountain area and centre of the ancient kingdon of Champa. Notice the Indian-influence. Similiar to Angkor in Cambodia. These brick structures were put together without morter. They used some kind of glue substance which is unknown today.
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This picture does not do the tomb of Minh Mang justuse for the detail of architecture. Her the side rails of the steps are formed into a dragon.
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Cham temple in Danang still used by this worshiper.
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On the grounds of Minh Mang Tomb.
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Extensive damage was done to the Hue Citadel during the Vietnam/American War. Some of the buildings have been renovated.


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