Thai Hoa Palace - Popular cultural site in Hue Citadel

Thai Hoa Palace, as known as Throne Palace, is one of the famous cultural sites in Hue Citadel. In Thai Hoa Palace, you can admire the beauty of architecture and try some delicious local cuisines.

Overview 

The name “Thai Hoa” of the palace signifies a lot of profound meanings. The word “Thai” means large and big, while “Hoa” means harmonious – the harmony of all things in the world. When everything is in harmony, life will flourish and develop. Giving this name to the construction, the kings of the Nguyen Dynasty seemed to wish to build a strong and prosperous dynasty and bring a happy life for the whole country.

Overview 

Thai Hoa Palace used to be the symbol of the Nguyen Dynasty. The palace, along with the courtyard, was the place of important ceremonies such as the coronation ceremonies, the king’s birthday, the envoy reception and the meetings held on the 1st and the 15th of the lunar month. 

On these occasions, besides the king, only the royal family and four major officials were allowed to enter the palace. The others stood in the courtyard according to their rank, from the 1st position to the 9th position. All their positions were marked on the courtyard.

History 

History 

King Gia Long started the construction of Thai Hoa Palace on February 2nd 1805, three years after his enthronement. Thai Hoa Palace was completed in October 1805. In 1833, when King Minh Mang reconstructed the whole imperial city, Thai Hoa Palace was moved to the south and rebuilt to be more imposing. In 1923, to prepare for the 40th birthday anniversary of King Khai Dinh in 1924, Thai Hoa Palace was restored on a large scale.

Besides, Thai Hoa Palace witnessed small reparation and restoration under the period of King Thanh Thai and Bao Dai, and during the 20th century. The restoration in 1960, 1970, 1981, 1985 and 1992 has somehow erased the antique appearance of the palace, but its architecture and decoration are still preserved in general.

Highlights 

Highlights

Structure

The total area of Thai Hoa palace is 1,360 square meters. The floor of Thai Hoa Palace is 1 meter higher than the courtyard, and 2.35 meters higher than the surrounding ground. A highlight trait of this construction is the “double-house” structure with two halls linked with the other, and one roof overlapping the other roof.

Structure

Architecture

80 ironwood pillars were used to support the roofs of Thai Hoa Palace. The pillars were decorated in dragons and clouds, which were the symbol of the meeting between the king and his mandarins. The front and main halls of the palace were connected by a system of arched ceilings, which looked like a crab shell. This connection creates a continuous interior space without the feeling of linking the two halls.

The application of this crab-shell-shaped roof is a creative idea of the architects who built Thai Hoa Palace. Due to the weather and the traditional architecture of Vietnam, the palace could not be built as high as some palaces in China, so the outer half of the roof is higher while the inner half is lower. 

Not only does this architecture conceal the concave area between the two roofs but also makes the outside outstanding and the interior much more majestic.

The roof tiles of the palace are divided into three parts overlapping each other in order to make the palace higher as well as reduce the force on the pillars below.

The decoration of Thai Hoa Palace has a special noteworthy concept, which is the appearance of the number 5 and 9. These two numbers do not only appear in the interior but also the exterior of the palace. 

The stairs outside the palace include either 5 or 9 steps. There are nine dragons in different positions on the roof of Thai Hoa Palace. The throne in the main hall also has nine dragons. To explain the use of these numbers, many people consider that the number 5 is the center of the universe, which is the intersection point of land and heaven, while number 9 stands for spiritual perfection and development.

What to See and Do 

What to See and Do 

Admiring the art of architecture 

The entire construction of Thai Hoa Palace is the highest peak of Vietnamese architecture under the Nguyen Dynasty. To get to the main hall of this palace, you need to go through a three-door entrance that was decorated with the image of dragons, sun and lotus. A short path between two lakes leads to the courtyard of Thai Hoa Palace, where you can see two lines of stone slabs carved the positions of the mandarins in the court.

Thai Hoa Palace appears in front of your eyes with the outstanding orange-red color of glazed-tile roofs and the brown color of wooden doors. Both the exterior and interior of this palace contain solemn attractions, which impresses every tourist coming to contemplate the specific architecture. Despite many times of restoration, the structure of Thai Hoa Palace still remains, and you can even see the throne and incense stand in the main hall.

Hue Imperial City

Thai Hoa Palace is only a small part of Hue Imperial City. This world cultural heritage consists of hundreds of smaller works, each of them has its own purposes. One day in Hue might be not enough for you to visit all the constructions, so some typical places that you should not miss are Ngo Mon Gate (Meridian Gate), Flag Tower, Thai Mieu, Trieu Mieu, Can Chanh Palace, Dien Tho Palace, Cuu Dinh, Tombs of King Nguyen and Forbidden City.

Hue’s specialties

Hue has long been famous for its unique cuisine that cannot be found in any provinces in Central Vietnam. The specialties of Hue City that you should try at least once are mussel rice or noodles, Hue beef noodles, grilled spring rolls, sour shrimp, banh canh Nam Pho and banh khoai. One trait that you can easily feel in most dishes of Hue is hot spicy, which comes from fresh pepper and chili. In addition, sweet is also a typical spice that you can find in some delicious desserts such as sweetened porridge and “me xung” – a kind of candy in Hue.  

Bich Huong