Royal tombs in Hue is a thing you can’t miss out when travel to this city. Hue is a center of tourist destinations which has the citadel, pagodas, tombs. Hue attracts tourists by outstanding architecture under the Nguyen dynasty. Especially, tomb system of the Nguyen emperors is a must visit destination
1. Royal tombs in Hue introduction
Most of Nguyen’s emperors built their tombs when they were alive because their point of view was “life is temporary, death is back to where they belong ”. When the emperors were alive, they came to their tombs to relax and rest. These tombs became burial places when the emperors passed away. All tombs were built following eastern feng shui with elements of mountain, river, green dragon, white tiger which made these tombs gorgeous and romantic architectures. The Nguyen dynasty had 13 Kings but for different reasons only 7 tombs were built.
1.1 Gia Long tomb
Gia Long was the first emperor of the Nguyen dynasty who established the Nguyen dynasty, the last dynasty in Viet Nam. Gia Long tomb was built from 1814 to 1820, located in Cam Khe mount consist of a large complex of mausoleum such as:
- Quang Hung tomb of Thai Tong Hieu Triet queen, the second wife of Hien Vuong Nguyen Phuc Tan lord
- Vinh Mau tomb of Anh Tong Hieu Nghia queen, wife of Nghia Vuong Nguyen Phuc Thai lord
- Truong Phong tomb of Tuc Tong Hieu Ninh, Nguyen Phuc Thu emperor.
- Thoai Thanh tomb of Hung To Hieu Khuong queen, the second wife of Nguyen Phuc Con and mother of King Gia Long.
- Hoang Co tomb of Thai Truong princess Long Thanh, sister of Gia Long emperor.
- Thien Tho tomb of Gia Long emperor and his wife
- Thien Tho Huu tomb of Thuan Thien Cao queen, the second wife of Gia Long emperor, mother of Minh mang emperor.
The tomb is a group of mountains with 42 hills and mountains have their own name. Dai Thien Tho is the biggest mountain. Gia Long’s tomb lies in a vast flat mount. Dai Thien Tho in front of, 7 mounts behind, 14 mountains on the left and the right as green dragon and white tiger. Gia Long tomb comprise 3 areas:
- The middle of the tomb is the burial area of the King and Thua Thien Cao queen. Salutation court with solemn statues and 7 steps. Buu citadel is on the top of the mountain.
- On the right side of the burial area is the worship area with Minh Thanh temple where to worship the Emperor and the first queen.
- On the left side of the burial area is a Stele house. There is a big stone stele “Thanh duc thanh cong” written by Minh Mang emperor to praise his father.
Gia Long tomb is a picturesque work about the harmony between nature and architecture.
1.2 Minh Mang tomb
Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyen dynasty, he came to the throne in 1820 to 1841. He had the most significant achievements of the Nguyen dynasty who brought prosperity for the country. Minh Mang tomb is located in Cam Khe mount, An Bang village, Huong Tho commune, Hue city. about 12 kilometers from the center of Hue city. Minh Mang tomb was built in 1840. Minh Mang changed Cam Khe mountain into Hieu Son and the tomb was Hieu Lang. After Minh Mang passed away, Thieu Tri king continued to build his father’s tomb.
The area of this tomb was 1.750 meters consisting of palaces, castles, pavilions arranged on a vertical axis 700 length from Dai Hong Mon to Huyen temple. There are a lot of lakes full of lotuses and pine hills.
Go through Hien Duc Mon is the worship area. Dien Sung An is in the middle, surrounded by Ta, Huu Phoi Dien and Ta, Huu Tung Phong as satellites.
The majesty of architecture and poetic landscape of nature, plants express the strict characteristic, profound knowledge and romantic soul of the emperor.
1.3 Thieu Tri tomb
Thieu Tri emperor was the third emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. He came to the throne in 1841 and ruled his country in 7 years. It is said that Thieu Tri emperor was an intelligent and dedicated emperor. However, Thieu Tri emperor did not create any innovation. He only maintained the policies from Minh Mang term about administration, economy, education, law, and so on.
Located in Cu Chanh village, Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy district, Hue city. Thieu Tri tomb was the only tomb face to the northwest which is a direction rarely used in the palaces and tombs architecture of Nguyen dynasty.
When Thieu Tri was alive, he did not worry too much about death. Besides, He did not want soldiers and people to lose their health and waste of property.
After Thieu Tri passed away, his son, Tu Duc chose a good land to build a tomb named Xuong Lang. Construction process of Xuong Lang took place quickly, and the monuments were almost done after 3 months. Tu Duc emperor wrote a story to praise his father 2.500 letters long and casted on a stone stele which was built in 1848.
Thieu Tri tomb is the cooperation and selectivity from the architectural model of Gia Long tomb and Minh Mang tomb.
1.4 Tu Duc tomb
Tu Duc tomb is one of the most beautiful monuments of Nguyen architecture. The Tu Duc emperor chose a resting place suitable for his throne and profound learning . A romantic and poetic tomb among royal tombs of Nguyen emperors.Tu Duc tomb located in a small valley of Thuong Ba village, Thuy Xuan district, Hue city. The Tu Duc emperor was the fourth emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. He came to the throne when the country had difficulties which were inner fights for the throne of the royal family, and the attack of the enemy outside. In addition, because of getting a bad disease, Tu Duc didn’t have children. Because of that, Tu Duc tomb was constructed as a second palace to rest and worship in case the emperor passed away suddenly.
Tu Duc tomb was constructed in 1864 with the first name of “Van Nien Co”. After the revolt of Doan Huu Trung siblings, the King changed the name “Van Nien Co” into “Khiem Cung”. When Tu Duc passed away, the name changed into “Khiem Lang”.
Tu Duc tomb overview as a wide park with the harmony of the architecture and scenery. There are almost 50 monuments in Tu Duc tomb that have “Khiem” in their names. Khiem Cung Mon is the resting place for the King. The main palace is Hoa Khiem Dien where the King worked in the past, and now it is used for worshiping the King and the Queen. Two sides of the main palace are Phap Khiem Vu and Le Khiem Vu where the civil and military mandarins worked. Behind Hoa Khiem Dien is Luong Khiem Dien where to worship Tu Du mother queen, Tu Duc’s mother. On Khiem Duong on the right of Luong Khiem Dien. Especially, on the left of Luong Khiem Duong is Minh Khiem Duong where the emperor watched music performances. This is the most ancient theater in Viet Nam.
Behind Salutation courtyard with 2 row statues of mandarins, horses, and elephants is Stele house which has a large stone stele 20 ton weight to record life, career of Tu Duc emperor. This is the largest stone stele in Vietnam which has values about art, architecture, history, literature, and so on. Tu Duc Emperor wrote the content in this stone stele by himself and named it “Khiem Cung Ky” with 4.935 letters in total.
1.5 Duc Duc tomb
Duc Duc was the fifth emperor of the Nguyen dynasty. Duc Duc came to the throne in 1883. After 3 days on the throne, Duc Duc was deposed because he cut a paragraph in the King’s will. On 24 of October 1883, Duc Duc emperor passed away in jail. The remains of Duc Duc emperor was buried near Tuong Quang pagoda. 6 years later, Thanh Thai emperor started to build his father’s tomb in 1890 and named An Lang. In 1899, Thanh Thai built Long An palace and other monuments.
Compared to tombs of the Nguyen dynasty, Duc Duc tomb had simple architecture. The tomb was rectangular in shape, with an area of 3.445 square kilometers. There are no Stele house, and stone statues like other tombs.
Long An palace was in the center which is a monument built following the model of palaces in Hue. There are 3 altars of Duc Duc and his wife, Thanh Thai and Duy Tan inside the palace.
1.6 Dong Khanh tomb
Dong Khanh was the ninth king of the Nguyen dynasty. He came to the throne in 1885.
Dong Khanh tomb also called Tu Lang, located in the countryside of Thuong Hai village, Thuy Xuan commune, Hue city. Dong Khanh passed away while his tomb was not built.
Thanh Thai emperor, the next emperor, came to the throne in a disadvantaged economy, so he chose Trung Tu temple to worship the Dong Khanh emperor named Ngung Hy temple. The King’s remains was buried in a hill named Ho Thuan, about 30 meters from Ngung Hy temple.
In August 1916, after 3 months on the throne, Khai Dinh emperor restored the worship area and built a tomb for his father. All monuments from Salutation court, Stele house, Buu citadel, Huyen pavilion were constructed under the Khai Dinh period and done in July 1917. Ngung Hy temple, Ta, Huu Tung Vien and Ta, Huu Tung Tu were continuously restored until 1923.
Dong Khanh tomb had two kinds of architecture belonging to two periods. In the worship area, monuments still keep old-fashioned architecture. What stands out is Ngung Hy where reserved lacquer art of Viet Nam.
In contrast, the burial area was almost Western architecture from decoration to construction materials. Dong Khanh tomb succeeded in using new architecture and combining simple elements which made the tomb harmony with the countryside landscape.
1.7 Khai Dinh tomb
Khai Dinh was the twelfth emperor of Nguyen dynasty. He was the eldest son of emperor Dong Khanh and Queen Huu Thien Thuan. Khai Dinh was on the throne on May 18, 1916. After 4 years on the throne, emperor Khai Dinh asked excellent mandarins to find a good place to build this tomb. Khai Dinh tomb or Ung Lang began construction in September 1920 and was completed in 1931. Located in the West South of Chau E mountain area, Chau Chu village, Huong Thuy district, Hue city. This is the last tomb of the Nguyen dynasty, however, the first relic was built with modern western materials.
The area of Khai Dinh tomb is smaller than the others, 117 meters x 48.5 meters, but it was very sophisticated and wasted a lot of time. Khai Dinh tomb had 127 steps, with the combination of different architectures such as India, Buddhist, Roman, Gothique, and so on. The gates tower shape is affected by Indian architecture, columns stoupa shape of Buddhist, fence looks like the holy cross, stele house with roman architecture. This is the cultural Eastern – Western exchange.
Thien Dinh palace is in the highest position of the tomb, including 5 halls connected to each other. Two sides are Ta, Huu Truc Phong for soldiers, in front of Khai Thanh palace place altar and portrait of Khai Dinh emperor, in the middle is Buu Tan and a realistic bronze statue (life-size at 160 cm in height) of a martial-looking Khai Dinh in full regalias carrying a sword, and the grave under. The interior decoration of Thien Dinh palace was decorated with reliefs made of porcelain and glass. There are paintings, and a collection of Khai Dinh’s personal memorabilia such as silver and porcelain dinner sets, bejeweled belts, swords and ornaments. Especially, The ceiling is decorated with nine intricate dragons, the largest painting in Viet Nam, originally painted by royal painter Phan Van Tanh.
Khai Dinh is a monument that brings architectural and art values. Khai Dinh tomb became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, along with other Nguyen Dynasty structures in Hue. It is open to the public for visiting.
If you would like to visit some of these royal tombs, you can book our Hue City Tour, our local guides will bring you unforgettable memories by guiding you to these attractions. Moreover, you also can book Hue Tombs Tour From VM Travel.