Ngo Mon - Thanh Noi
Ngo Mon Gate - Imperial City

The Imperial City (Dai Noi) is made up of three different walled enclosures. The Yellow Enclosure (Hoang Thanh) and the Forbidden Purple City (Tu Cam Thanh) are enclosed within the Kinh Thanh (exterior enclosure). Stone, bricks and earth were used to build the exterior wall which measured 26 feet (8 meters) high and 65 feet (20 meters) thick and was built during the reign of Emperor Gia Long. The large fortified gates topped with watch towers were built at various points along the all.

The Yellow Enclosure is the middle wall enclosing the imperial city, with its palaces, temples and flower gardens, Access to it was via four richly decorated gates: Ngo Mon (South or Noon Gate), Hoa Binh, Hien Nhan and Chuong Duc. The Ngo Mon Gate, first built of granite in 1834 during the reign of Emperor Ming Mang, was repaired in 1921. The gate is topped by the Lau Ngu Phung, the Five Phoenix Watch Tower, with its roofs brightly tiled in yellow over the middle section and green on either side. From here the emperor used to preside over formal ceremonies and with special permission it is possible to climb the stairs and enjoy the same view.

Once through the Ngo Mon Gate, the Golden Water Bridge, at one time reserved solely for the emperor, lead to the Thai Hoa Palace (Palace of Supreme Peace) the most important place in the imperial city. Here the emperor received the high dignitaries of the land and foreign diplomats, and the royal court organized important ceremonies, Built in 1805 during Gia Long's reign, the palace was renovated first by Ming Mang in 1834 and later by Khai Dinh in 1924. Its ceilings and beams highly decorated in red lacquer and gold inlay. The emperor used to rest in the Truong Sanh Palace (Palace of Longevity) and read the classics in the Van Palace or the Co Ha Garden. The temples within the enclosure are dedicated to various Lords.

The Mieu, dedicated to the sovereigns of the Nguyen dynasty, houses the shrine of seven Nguyen emperors plus the stelae of the revolutionary emperors: Ham Nghi, Thanh Thai and Duy Tan, which were added in 1959. In front of the temple, stands the magnificent Hien Lam Cac (Pavilion of Splendor) with the nine dynastic urns lined up before it. The urnes, cast in 1822 during Ming Mang's reign, are decorated with motifs of the sun, moon, clouds, birds, animals, dragons, mountains, rivers, historic events and scenes from everyday life. Hundred of artisans from all over the country were involved in their casting. Each urn represents an emperor and weight between 4,275 and 5,625 lb. (1,900 and 2,500 kg.)

In the first enclosure of the Royal City, towards the Chuong Duc Gate are the 9 Genies Canons (Sung Than Cong), Five on one side represent the five elements: metal, water, wood, fire and earth, the other four represent the seasons. Each canon weighs 12 tons.

The Forbidden Purple City (Tu Cam Thanh) was reserved solely for the Emperor and the royal family who resided here behind a brick wall 3 1/4 feet (1 meter) high and 13 feet (4 meters thick). Seven gates set into the wall each had a special function and name glorifying the ancestral virtues.