Hue (Huế in Vietnamese) is the capital city of Thừa Thiên - Huế province, Vietnam. Between 1802 and 1945, it was the imperial capital of the Nguyễn Dynasty.
Huế is well known for its historic monuments, which have earned it a place in UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. The seat of the Nguyễn emperors was the Citadel, which occupies a large, walled area on the north side of the Hương River. Inside the citadel was a forbidden city where only the emperors, concubines, and those close enough to them were granted access; the punishment for trespassing was death. Today, little of the forbidden city remains, though reconstruction efforts are in progress to maintain it as a historic tourist attraction.
Huế originally rose to prominence as the capital of the Nguyễn Lords, a feudal dynasty which dominated much of southern Vietnam from the 17th to the 19th century. In 1775 when Trịnh Sâm captured it, it was known as Phú Xuân. In 1802, Nguyễn Phúc Ánh (later Emperor Gia Long) succeeded in establishing his control over the whole of Vietnam, thereby making Huế the national capital.
Huế was the national capital until 1945. In the Vietnam War, Huế’s central position placed it very near the border between North Vietnam and South Vietnam.
Roughly along the Hương River from Hue lie myriad other monuments, including the tombs of several emperors, including Minh Mạng, Khải Định, and Tự Đức. Also notable is the Thiên Mụ Pagoda, the largest pagoda in Huế and the official symbol of the city.
A number of French-style buildings lie along the south bank of the Hương River. Among them are Quốc Học High School, the oldest high school in Vietnam, and Hai Ba Trung High School.
The Hue Museum of Royal Fine Arts on 3 Le Truc Street also maintains a collection of various artifacts from the city.
Hue's weather is infamously bad: the Truong Son Mountains just to the south seem to bottle up all the moisture, so it's usually misty, drizzly or outright rainy. Things get even wetter than usual in the winter rainy season, especially from February to the end of March. To be safe, bring along an umbrella any time of year. Don't forget to bring a sweater and jacket in winter as it can get rather chilly, with temperatures falling to as low as 8 degrees at night. Alternatively, when the sun makes an appearance for a day or a week, it can reach 30 degrees.
It's usually quite dry during the summer months, when the temperature can reach the high 30's. Summer rains can be heavy but brief, and often arrive unexpectedly, whereas February rains can last for weeks. The best description for the weather in Hue would be "changeable".
The cuisine of Huế draws from throughout Vietnam, but one of the most striking differences is the prominence of vegetarianism in the city. Several all-vegetarian restaurants are scattered in various corners of the city to serve the locals who have a strong tradition of eating vegetarian twice a month, as part of their Buddhist beliefs. Another feature of Huế dishes that sets them apart from other regional cuisines in Vietnam is the relatively small serving size with refined presentation, a vestige of its royal cuisine. Finally, another feature of Huế cuisine is that it is often very spicy.