The Complex of Hue Monuments is located in and around Hue City in Thua Thien-Hue Province in the geographical centre of Vietnam and with easy access to the sea. Established as the capital of unified Vietnam in 1802, Hue was not only the political but also the cultural and religious centre under the Nguyen Dynasty, the last royal dynasty of Vietnamese history, from 1802 to 1945.
Complex of Hue Monuments lies along the Perfume River in Hue City and some adjacent areas of Thua Thien Hue Province. Hue City constitutes the cultural, political and economic centre of the province, and was the old imperial city of Viet Nam under the Nguyen Dynasty from 1802 to 1945.
The structures of the Complex of Hue Monuments are carefully placed within the natural setting of the site and aligned cosmologically with the Five Cardinal Points (centre, west, east, north, south), the Five Elements (earth, metal, wood, water, fire), and the Five Colors (yellow, white, blue, black, red).
The central structure is the Hue Citadel area which was the administrative centre of southern Viet Nam during the 17th and 18th centuries. Within the Hue Citadel were located not only administrative and military functions of the Empire, but also the Imperial Residence, the Hoang Thanh (Imperial City), the Tu Cam Thanh (Forbidden Purple City) and related royal palaces.
From 1802 to 1945, Hue was the capital of unified Viet Nam under the reign of the 13 Nguyen Kings. During these years, architectural works of a high cultural and historic value were built: the Citadel, especially the Imperial City (including 253 constructions), 7 Royal tomb compound of 9 kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, the Esplanade of Nam Giao, the Ho Quyen arena and the Hon Chen Temple.
It wasn’t until 1993 when the Complex of Hue Monuments were recognized as a World Cultural Heritage Site by UNESCO that the conservation, restoration and embellishment of the monuments were given attention and promoted. Since then, with domestic and foreign assistance, many works have been revitalized and have the same appearance as before.