Nam Giao, Hue - review by Rusty Compass
Hue | see and do guide

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Nam Giao, Hue

| 17 Nov 2011
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Nam Giao, Hue
Le Ngo Cat Hue - at the end of both Dien Bien Phu and Phan Boi Chau Streets

Our rating
17 Nov 2011

Hue's answer to Beijing's Temple of Heaven may be modest in the extreme - but it's worth taking a short wander around this desolate spot to reflect on faded glory. Nam Giao is enroute to the Nguyen Dynasty Tombs so it's very easy to stop for a quick look and you won't be bumping into other travellers while you're there.

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You’ll need to use your imagination when visiting this place since even in its heyday during the Nguyen Dynasty, Nam Giao consisted of not much more than the open air esplanade that still remains. It exploded in ceremonial decoration, colour and royal pomp each three years as the Emperor performed sacred rites of worship here.

Hue,Nam Giao,Vietnam
Photo: Mark BowyerNam Giao, Hue
Nam Giao was the centre of dynastic ceremony and ritual from its creation in 1806 up until 1942. Triennial festivities included animal sacrifices and precious offerings to the heavens to affirm regal legitimacy and to secure prosperity and bountiful harvests for the people. Nam Giao served a similar function to the spectacular Temple of Heaven site in Beijing. Judging by what remains however, it was a rather more modest affair.

The three terraces at Nam Giao remain, representing humanity, earth and heaven - as does the Emperor’s fasting palace which now houses a photographic display that’s worth a look.

Vietnam,Hue,Nam Giao
Photo: Mark BowyerNam Giao, Hue
In an ominous development, plans are afoot to “recreate” the Nam Giao site. It could certainly benefit from some meaningful information for travellers but a full scale recreation along the lines of parts of the Royal Citadel would be unfortunate.

The Nam Giao rituals are recreated in June each year as part of the Hue Festival.

Travel tips
Nam Giao is just 2kms out of town on the main route to Khai Dinh and Tu Duc’s tomb so it’s an easy place to stop for 30 minutes for a quick look.
Mark Bowyer
Mark Bowyer is the founder and publisher of Rusty Compass.
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