The Ngo Mon Gate is a massive structure in front of the Hue Citadel that also served as a royal viewing platform for court ceremonies. The Gate has a few interesting architectural components, each one playing an important part in court ceremonial:
The gates: Two of the five entrances that cut through the thick stone ramparts serve as entry and exit points for tourists. The largest, middle gate is barred - it was (is?) reserved for the Emperor's use. The two entrances flanking the Emperor's gate were reserved for mandarins and court officials, while the outermost entrances were reserved for soldiers and war materiel.
The viewing platform: the "Belvedere of the Five Phoenixes", the Emperor's private viewing platform on top of the gate, hosted the emperor and his retinue during important court ceremonies. No women were allowed at this level; from this high vantage point, the Emperor and his mandarins observed military exercises and awarded examination passers.
The platform has also seen its fair share of modern history. It was here that the last Emperor of Vietnam, Bao Dai, abdicated in favor of the revolutionary government headed by Ho Chi Minh, on August 30, 1945.
The flag tower: Opposite the Ngo Mon Gate, across the Ngo Mon Square, you can see the Vietnamese national flag flapping from the Flag Tower. The three terraces that comprise the Flag Tower's platform was built in 1807, during the reign of Gia Long.
In the old days, the terraces were fortified by cannon - today, the flag tower serves as the reminder of the ultimate victor in the many wars fought over this city in the 20th century.
Image via www.tourtovietnam.net
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