The longest and widest sides
of this 5.2m high foundation are 50m and 27m, respectively. Ascent to the top can be made
by two open stone staircases on both sides. There are five entrances, the main one being
Noon Gate, paved with Thanh stone, and with red-lacquered doors reserved for the Emperor.
The two side-entrances, the Left and Right Gates, were for civil and military mandarins
and, inside the branches of the U, are two more gates used by soldiers, elephants, and
horses on the royal procession.
The upper part is the Ngu Phung Pavilion
(Pavilion of Five Phoenixes) in the middle, flanked by two wing belvederes of two stories.
Viewed from above, the pavilion resembles a group of five phoenixes
with beaks joining and wings widespread. They form two rows, two
roofs each surrounded with a roofed gallery.
The middle section of the roof is covered
with yellow enameled tiles and others with dark green ones. Along the roof ridges are
designs of head-turning dragons, banian leaves and bats with golden coins. Panels along
the eaves are decorated with ceramic mosaics of prunes, orchid, chrysanthemum and bamboo.
They are bright and harmonious, and very resistant against the rains, typhoons and the
passage of time.
The upper story is supplied with wooden
partitions and was exclusively reserved for the Queen Mother and the Emperor's wives. They
could look through windows shaped like circles, gongs or fans, but blinds prevented them
from being seen from the outside.
The lower story was left open except for
the middle compartment which is paneled and supplied with glass-doors. There sat the
Emperor on festive occasions. Behind his seat were a big bell and a large drum, which
enhanced the importance of the ceremonies. Besides, the drum was often used to herald
closing-time of the Imperial City. At this signal, sentries would fire the cannons of the
Flag Tower and close, or open, the gates of the citadel.
Two Chinese characters meaning "Noon Gate" on the front of this construction had
originally been gilded with genuine gold. All structural components such as partitions,
columns rafters doors and banisters are lacquered red and yellow.
Noon Gate was also the site where the
Emperor received homage from his subjects and ceremonies took place such as: Ceremony of
Proclamation of Doctor Lists (successful candidates in the national examination), Calendar
Offering Day, etc.
On the side of the road passing the Noon
Gate stand two stone steles inscribed with "Tilt Your Hats and Dismount"
reminding passers-by to tilt their hats and get off horses when passing this sanctum.
Noon Gate was seriously damaged during the
wars and underwent several restorations.