Situated right behind the Throne Room (called even Hall of the Supreme Harmony) this gate was the symbolic passage to The Sacred, the Forbidden City.
What´s left of the Old Hué gives a vague idea of how the Citadel and Imperial City looked like during the times of the Nguyen dynasty. Was the city as enchanting as its remains are striking with their absence? What was the ideal of beauty? Who were the artists? Which details are authentic and what is much later translation of former splendor?
Presuming that I´m not the only person interested, adding the great outreach of internet, the blog may be a platform for us who want to know more and who have something to tell about the city of Hué. In time.
Few buildings of the Imperial Hué are so non-existing, poorly photographed and yet so well remembered and missed.
Old rare postcards showing the glimpse of this Palace are hunted by collectors and reaching high prices.
Kien Trung on the old postcard, undated, edited by Boy-Landry, Saigon. Private collection
Opening his umbrella, the servant of Kien Trung Palace is about to walk down the stairs…
The building right behind him is one of the newest in the Imperial City of Hué. Erected during the emperor Kai Dinh´s reign in 1923 it was a home of the last emperor Bao Dai and his family.
There were though some other structures standing on this spot before:
- Minh Vien Pavilion, a mirador, built 1827 by the emperor Minh Mang; three-storied wooden structure functioned as a viewing stage for
the emperor. The throne was placed on the top floor, making is easier for the emperor to admire the stars and being closer to Heaven.
- Du Cuu Pavilion built 1913.
The architecture of Kien Trung Palace was an example of Asian-European style.
Kien Trung Palace in 1930, photo: Wikipedia, public domain, copyrights expired 1960.
Bricks and concrete replaced wood, large windows could be seen as a reminiscence of French royal abodes. Vietnamese tradition was cultivated in lavish mosaics decorating façade.
Section of a model of the Imoerial City showing the Kien Trung Palace.
Model of the whole Imperial City. The Forbidden part separated by wall.
The building was placed on the south-north axis. From the windows on the higher floors the view was stretching on palaces of the previous emperors, the audience hall, the main gate, and finally the mast with the imperial flag.
Bao Dai inherited the imperial throne in 1926 but ascended it first in 1932 after completing his studies in France. Two years later he married beautiful Mariette, better known as empress Nam Phuong. The couple, with their five children, lived in Kien Trung Palace until 1945 when on the day of the 25th of August Bao Dai abdicated, handing the power over to Viet Minh and becoming citizen Vinh Thuy.
Despite the fact that we have to do with quite recent history, it is not completely clear what exactly happened, exactly when, and who did or said exactly what… Credible information most welcomed.
It is said the after Bao Dai´s final speech, when the limousine took him to his new home, the Imperial City was severely plundered. Partly by the crowd waving him good-bye.
Emperor and his family moved to another palace, An Dinh, situated on the opposite side of the Perfume River.
According the information given by the Huè’s Museum, Bao Dai lived in Kien Trung until 1947 (two years after abdication) being appointed by Ho Chi Minh as a state advisor. Other sources claim that Bao Dai was not longer welcome in the Imperial City.
This year, is also said; the palace was destroyed due to the military operation during
the war against the French colonial power. By the French? Tét Offensive of 1968 did the rest
of the damage. Other factors were surely time and neglection from the political
The perspective gives us the idea of how big the site was. Behind the lawn one can see two starcases leading to the entrances of non-existing Palace.
The brons basin is still on the Palace´s yard. The photo is taken from the newly renovated roofed passage.
There was a small pavillion in front of the Palace. It´s still standing, seen here in the opening of the columnades.
Unesco is planning to help with reconstruction of Kien Trung. Hopefully the palace will be ready in 2022