Hue is home to not only delicious specialties, romantic beautiful landscapes, but also a taciturn ancient capital, which was once the capital of prosperous feudal dynasties in Vietnam history. With regard to the land of Ngu Mountain - Perfume River, it will be an deficiency if Thai Hoa Palace is not mentioned. It is located right on radial road of Imperial Citadel overlooking Ngo Mon Gate in Hue Citadel, Hue city, Thua Thien - Hue province. Thai Hoa Palace is the most important architectural works in numerous aspects: function, location, historical significance, and artistic cultural values. It is also the most important activity venue in Nguyen Dynasty.
Thai Hoa Palace is the powerful symbol of Nguyen Dynasty. Used for the King's official receptions and other significant court rituals such as anniversaries and coronations, this palace is actually positioned on the Northern bank of Perfume River. In addition, Kings held court during the first and fifteen day of the lunar month. On this occasion, the king majestically sat on his throne. Only imperial clan members are allowed standing in the palace. Meanwhile, mandarins lined the court according to their rank and title from first to ninth grade, civil mandarins on the left and military mandarins on the right. All locations are marked on two rows of stone placed in front of the court.
The palace is supported by 80 columns of iron wood painted and decorated dragons playing with clouds - a symbol of the encounter between the emperor and his officials as the inherent function of the palace. The front and back halls of the palace are connected together by the system of crab-shell ceiling. The rafter system in the back hall is relatively simple; on the contrary, this system in the front hall is designed in sophisticated structures. In particular, the roof of the palace is tiled in lapis; yet it is divided into three stories overlap on each other in order from highest to lowest, aiming to avoid the heaviness of a large building and exalt the palace by creating the illusion of height for buildings.
The decoration as well as architecture of Thai Hoa Palace in general have an extremely notable concept, namely figure five, and figure nine in particular. These two numbers appear not only on the interior and exterior decoration of the building but also on doorsteps of the palace. From Grand Palace Gate of Forbidden Purple City to Thai Hoa Palace, the king must step up a system of the nine doorsteps on the bottom ground floor and five doorsteps on the upper one. Then, the system of doorsteps in the palace is five levels. From the courtyard or Forbidden Purple City, it will be easily to find out nine dragons in different positions on each palace’s roof... In the same way, from the throne, around wood valances, to each side of the three-story pedestal are decorated a set of nine dragons.
By its magnificent location on the main axis of Hue Imperial City and various symbolic meanings in architectural decoration, Thai Hoa Palace is the most typical construction of Hue royal architecture in terms of historical, cultural and art values. Though having repaired many times, architecture, structure and morphology of Thai Hoa Palace has been still reserved, especially structural and decorative arts.
In particular, located in the mid of hills on the Southern bank of Perfume River this palace has very gorgeous burial places of Nguyen Dynasty’s Kings. Among these tombs are four famous ones, namely majestic Gia Long tomb, imposing Minh Mang tomb, poetic Tu Duc tomb, and magnificent Khai Dinh tomb. These tombs as well as the arrangements of them reflect each Emperors perspectives, personality, and tastes.
Thai Hoa Palace is the most majestic and most magnificent palace in the court architecture system remained in Hue. Along with other monuments of Nguyen Dynasty architecture, Thai Hoa Palace was recognized as world cultural heritage by UNESCO. It nowadays gradually becomes a famous tourist attraction of Hue tourism in particular and tourism in Vietnam in general.