Hue, the rebirth of an imperial city

Proudly contributed by Luc Citrinot

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*hueInscribed into UNESCO World Heritage List since 1993, the ancient capital city of Hue in Vietnam is experiencing a renaissance today. Hue used to be the imperial capital of the Nguyen dynasty which rules from 1802 until 1945 while the last Vietnamese Emperor, Bao Dai, stepped down from his function of “Head of State” of the State of Vietnam, the future Republic of Vietnam in the south.

The UNESCO nomination has helped to revive and restore many of the historical structures of the ancient capital, which had been neglected in the seventies and eighties due to a combined lack of financial resources and a radical ideology which considered at that time hue imperial city as a legacy of a feudal regime.

It is all over now and Vietnam’s government is very keen to restore old Hue with the help of foreign experts. Both UNESCO and Hue Monuments Conservation Centre have helped restoring or reconstructing some 132 monuments.

The commitment of the government and Hue Monuments Conservation Centre helped to take Hue monuments of the UNESCO list of endangered world sites. Some 10 million US dollars have been already donated by foreign countries and international donors to protect the historical town. While the Government provided in 2014 over 4.15 million US dollars to restore 17 monuments, the government further provides in 2015 an additional 6.8 million US dollars to restore another 22 monuments.

The task is enormous as many structures suffered not only from neglect but also from war destruction and natural catastrophes such as giant flooding back to 1999. Over the last few years, international art festivals -Hue has one of the country’s best art events-, the reopening of the royal theatre with performances for the public, the listing of the Ca Hue (traditional songs) as a national intangible cultural heritage continue to make headlines for the city.

Hue revival is helping to turn tourism into one of the most important economic activity in the former imperial city. In 2014, Hue reached almost a million foreign travellers with total arrivals to the city reaching over 3.2 million. Hue targets now 1.5 million international arrivals in 2015.

Being slightly over two hours away from Danang International Airport -officially the only international gateway in the region-, Hue should however benefit from the opening of its airport to international flights. A series of charter flights have been conducted earlier this year with success out of Bangkok.

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