Thai Hoa Palace – The PINNACLE of Vietnamese Architecture

Thai Hoa Palace, located within the Hue Imperial Citadel, was the coronation site for 13 Nguyen dynasty emperors, from Gia Long to Bao Dai. It is considered the center of the nation during the feudal era. Today, let’s explore more about Thai Hoa Palace – Hue Imperial Citadel with’s to understand why this place is so important!

Thai Hoa Palace and Its Secrets

Introduction to Thai Hoa Palace – Hue Imperial Citadel

Thai Hoa Palace serves as the court’s ceremonial hall, where important events of the dynasty take place – gatherings with court officials or grand feasts such as the King’s birthday and those of the royal family. Due to its solemn nature and importance, only the king, princes, and high-ranking officials of the court could enter. Visiting this place, you will discover extravagant architectural details and learn more about the culture of the Nguyen dynasty royal court.

The peach tree beside Thai Hoa Palace

The name “Thái Hòa” in the architectural structure of the palace carries profound meanings. “Thái” signifies grandeur, while “Hòa” denotes harmony between firmness and flexibility, between Yin and Yang, between people… Thus, when everything is in harmony, all things between heaven and earth are prosperous and flourishing. This name seems to reflect the desire of the Nguyen dynasty kings to bring warmth, happiness to the people’s lives. Hence, “prosperous people, strong country” led to the dynasty’s increasing prosperity and strength.

Ticket prices for reference

  • Ticket price for Vietnamese visitors: 150,000 VND for adults, 30,000 VND for children
  • Ticket price for international visitors: 200,000 VND for adults, 40,000 VND for children

Note that these are ticket prices to visit the Imperial City within the Complex of Hue Monuments! Therefore, you will not only visit Thai Hoa Palace but also admire the different architectural styles of areas such as Dien Tho Palace, Forbidden Purple City, Hue Imperial City, Duyet Thi Duong…

Construction history and restoration up to today

The Thai Hoa Palace you see today is not the original Thai Hoa Palace as it was started under the reign of King Gia Long in February 1805. It was completed within 8 months. Later, it underwent two more construction and restoration processes. The first was under King Minh Mang in 1833, where the palace was relocated to the southern part of the Imperial City, renovated to be more splendid and magnificent. This process was part of the plan to re-plan the imperial architectural system in the Imperial City. The position of Thai Hoa Palace has been maintained to this day. The second time, Thai Hoa Palace was “grandly restored” in 1923 because King Khai Dinh needed to prepare for the Great Anniversary Ceremony of the king (celebrating the king’s 40th birthday). Later, the palace underwent many more restoration and minor repair phases under the reigns of King Thanh Thai and Bao Dai.

After the war, to maintain and preserve this historical relic, the state has carried out restoration works on Thai Hoa Palace in 1960, 1970, 1981, 1985, and 1992. Until now, after undergoing many restoration phases, Thai Hoa Palace has changed somewhat, but most of its historical imprints, especially its architectural structure and artistic decoration, have been preserved.

There is a large lake inside the area of Thai Hoa Palace – Hue Imperial Citadel

And recently, in November 2021, the Center for Conservation of Hue Imperial Citadel announced that Thai Hoa Palace will undergo a major renovation and conservation project lasting for 4 years. Due to its age of over 200 years and exposure to the harsh weather of Central Vietnam, including storms, prolonged rains, and droughts, the deterioration of Thai Hoa Palace is understandable.

What is Thai Hoa Palace used for within the Imperial City?

Thai Hoa Palace symbolizes the power of the Nguyen dynasty court. It is used for court ceremonies and important rituals such as coronation ceremonies, birthdays, receptions of envoys, and bi-monthly grand court sessions on the 1st and 15th days of the lunar month. During these occasions, the king sits on the golden throne inside the palace, and only the top-ranking officials and princes of the court are allowed to enter and attend. Other court officials have to stand in line in the Dai Trieu Nghi courtyard according to their ranks and positions, ranging from the first grade to the ninth grade. Civil officials stand on the left side while military officials stand on the right side. All positions are marked by two rows of “pham son” stones placed in front of the courtyard.

Here, often organize reenactments of ancient festivals at Thai Hoa Palace

The architectural style at Thai Hoa Palace in Hue Imperial Citadel

Upon stepping into Thai Hoa Palace, you will be amazed by its spaciousness – the total area of Thai Hoa Palace reaches 1,360 square meters. There are three main features that make Thai Hoa Palace distinctive and unique, as follows:

The framework of the house is mainly made of ironwood

Wood, alongside gold, symbolizes luxury and nobility in ancient feudal times. Therefore, when constructing the Thai Hoa Palace, the king also had the framework of the house built primarily with precious ironwood, known for its durability over time. If you have the time, instead of counting grains of rice, why not try counting the columns in Thai Hoa Palace? But if you’re too lazy, let answer for you! There are a total of over 80 columns painted with gold-inlaid dragons in the palace, all meticulously crafted by ancient artisans. As you pass through the front courtyard, you will immediately see a signboard painted in gold with three large Chinese characters, roughly translated as Thai Hoa Palace. Besides, you will also see smaller inscriptions detailing the construction and renovation periods of the building.

The framework of the house at Thai Hoa Palace is mainly made of ironwood

The architectural style of overlapping roofs – interlocking tiles

Though it may sound a bit confusing, the interlocking tiles design refers to roofs stacked on top of each other and houses connected together. The system of rafters at the front of the roof is the “stacked ridge – false pillar” type with an extremely delicate structure combined with simpler designed rafters at the back, creating harmony and symmetry. Between the two upper layers of the roof is a band of decorated ceramics running around the building. The compartmentalized sections of the ceramic band are decorated with highly creative and unique drawings and verses.

The spiritual numbers 5 and 9

Speaking of the architecture of Thai Hoa Palace, one cannot ignore the duo of numbers 5 and 9. These two numbers appear most frequently in the thresholds of the palace and in the interior decoration. For example, when the king walks from the Dai Cung Mon to Thai Hoa, he must pass through 9 steps of the lower threshold and 5 steps of the upper threshold. The number of steps leading up to the second and first levels of the Bài Đình altar is also 9. Additionally, in important areas such as the golden throne, there are 9 dragon sculptures adorning them.

The area of the golden throne with a set of 9 dragons

Note when visiting Thai Hoa Palace

As a cultural and historical attraction, when visiting Thai Hoa Palace, tourists should take note of the following information for a safe and enjoyable trip:

  • Starting from November 2021, Thai Hoa Palace will enter a renovation phase, starting from areas with damages to the entire area of the palace. Therefore, the experience of tourists will be somewhat affected, so please take note! The project is expected to be completed by August 2025.
  • Although there are no strict regulations, as it is a solemn historical site of the nation, you should choose formal attire, avoiding overly revealing outfits.
  • Photography and filming of the interior, as well as touching artifacts, are not allowed to preserve the historical relics in their best condition.
  • It is advisable to familiarize yourself with the map beforehand as the Imperial City area is extremely vast, to avoid getting lost while exploring inside.
  • Maintain cleanliness, avoid littering to ensure the cleanliness of the historical site.

Thai Hoa Palace, with its unique and ancient architecture, has become a must-visit tourist destination when visiting the beautiful city of Hue. Visiting this landmark allows tourists to broaden their cultural knowledge and enlighten themselves with long-standing historical values.

To facilitate transportation and plan your exploration itinerary in Hue, tourists should prioritize choosing tourism rental services with drivers in Hue from’s. With new vehicles equipped with amenities such as air conditioning, refreshments, wifi, etc., along with a team of local drivers, you will gain a deeper understanding of the essence of Hue.

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