Photo du Jour: An Imperial City Destroyed By War – Hué, Vietnam

An Imperial City structure in Hue, Vietnam shows signs of war.

Many of the walls of Hué’s Imperial Enclosure and Forbidden Purple City bear the scars of war from decades past. There are walls devoured by mortar rounds and brick façades pock-marked by bullets.

The circa-1804 citadel in Vietnam’s once imperial city, was first destroyed in the 1947 French Indochina War, and later during Vietnam / “American” War fighting during the battle for Hué in 1968. Only 20 of the Imperial Enclosure’s original 148 buildings survived.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

10 thoughts on “Photo du Jour: An Imperial City Destroyed By War – Hué, Vietnam

  1. An excellent photo! Simply beautiful, bringing a sense of mystery from your composition. I am grateful for buildings like this to still be standing – their architecture is so other-worldly.

    1. Cám ơn (Vietnamese for thanks) for your comment, Marina!

      I’ll be sharing more images of this amazing architecture in Hué soon… We could have spent a few days exploring all the citadel’s nooks and crannies. The fog definitely lended an air of mystery as we tried to imagine what history those buildings had witnessed. Hué was certainly one of our favorite stops in Vietnam.

  2. Beautiful photo, you can imagine that building being very grand once, it’s such a pity these buildings end up being destroyed.

    1. Jane, I saw a quote from a former soldier lamenting about Hué – “In order to save it, we had to destroy it..” Hué was strategically important for both sides in the war, and sadly, the people and the historical structures took the blows.

      We read that the government is also not keen to pay much attention to imperial icons. It would be wonderful if a balance could be struck between development programs that benefit the people and the restoration of such historically-significant architectural jewels!

      Nice to hear from you again!

  3. Very well captured, Tricia. I love the way you composed the photo and the bits of history you provided. Looking forward to seeing you next photos from Indochina.

    1. Jessie, I have so many images to share, as well as stories! We’ve just finished a lengthy overland journey from Vietnam to Laos, and here’s hoping that I’ll find some spare moments to blog shortly.

      As always, comments (and insight) coming from a photographer as gifted as yourself mean a lot! Hope you’re enjoying the weekend too.

    1. Jim & Barbara, so nice to hear from you two! I’m happy that you can live vicariously through our posts (you’re probably thinking it’s nice to do so sans the crazy bus rides and other dodgy moments). I think of everyone back in HD often! Thanks again for dropping in.

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