The Flag Tower, also called the Kings
Knight, is the focal point of Hue city. It is commonly known as a flagpole, but viewed
from the Imperial City, it is really a huge structure of three flat-top pyramids, one
lying on top of another.
It was built during Emperor Gia Long's
reign, in 1807, and later improved by his son, Emperor Minh Mang. According to the Thuc
Luc (Nguyen Dynasty's Chronicle), the flag-tower is 17.40 m high and consists of three
terraces. The first is 5.60 m high, the second ,5.8 m, and the third, 6 m. The higher the
terrace, the smaller its surface. On the third terrace, are 8 little buildings housing one
canon each and two sentry-boxes at opposite ends.
The 29.52m flag-staff was
originally made of wood. It was replaced by a new one in 1846 by Emperor Thieu Tri and
again in 1914, with French assistance, with a cast-iron one after having been destroyed by
a typhoon. Forty-three years later, after the return of the French colonialists (1947),
the staff was again destroyed. So it was in 1948 that a 21 m concrete staff was erected.
In feudal times, a yellow flag flapped
everyday on top of the staff. It was replaced with a larger one on festive occasions (The
Nam Giao Offering Ceremony, for example). Made of wool or velvet, this 4m by 3.6m flag was
brocaded with a dragon design in its center and fringed with serrated lace.