Among the popular destinations in Hue are the tombs of the Emperors. Hue was the seat of the government during the Nguyen dynasty and Vietnam was ruled from this historical city by thirteen Kings all in all. Of the thirteen Emperors, nine have tombs in seven Royal Tombs situated around the Imperial City Citadel.
Prominently done in Buddhist style, some of the tombs were designed and built by the Kings themselves during their lifetime. In addition, the tombs also feature Vietnamese architecture and were built using an ancient science based on predictions of thrown earth and the line patterns connecting certain points in the landscape.
The six tombs include the Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Gia Long, Thieu Tri, Dong Khanh and the Duc Duc Tomb that also includes the Thanh Thai and Duy Tan tombs. All are equally interesting although only three get the most visits from tourists.
POPULAR TOMBS OF THE EMPERORS
1. The Tomb of Minh Mang
The Minh Mang tomb is the most impressive of all. Emperor Minh Mang practiced Confucianism during his life. He had many wives and fathered even more children. His tomb was designed and planned by him alone and was built soon after his death.
Lavishly designed and exuding exoticism, the Minh Mang tomb presents a unity of elements with its layout, symmetry and the architecture of its main features. It is laid out in a Chinese-style landscape that, coupled with the balanced architecture, presents a wholesome picture.
2. The Tomb of Tu Duc
The Emperor Tu Duc was known as the ‘poet Emperor’. He spent his time writing poems and even wrote his own epitaph, which can be found inscribed in an ancient stone slab in the pavilion located east of the tomb. The Emperor had hundreds of wives and concubines, but interestingly, he had no son and thus didn’t have an heir.
His tomb was said to have been built by about three thousand artisans. It was set in a formal garden with a beautiful lake. And even though it was during his reign that the Nguyen monarchy had its peak in terms of the lavish display of wealth, the centerpiece of his tomb was curiously simple. The remains of the Emperor were buried elsewhere and the tomb only acts as a monument.
3. The tomb of Khai Dinh
The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh was said to have taken 11 years to finish and his unpopularity among the Vietnamese was due to his heavy taxation program that financed the creation of his tomb.
His tomb was built like a monument and had Vietnamese and European designs. The façade of the tomb, being built mainly of concrete, appears uninteresting on first sight. Until you reach the inside of the tomb, that is, where you’ll find a mixture of Eastern and Western embellishments that are colorful and lavish in nature. It is generously decorated with pieces of stained glass and fragments of colorful porcelain.
Indeed, the tombs of the Emperors are all architectural masterpieces in themselves, and are some of the places that you absolutely should see if you’re ever in Hue.