Huế is one of Vietnam’s major tourist cities with its breathtaking ancient architecture and romantic natural scenery. The capital of Nguyễn from 1802 to 1945, it was also famous for this dynasty’s royal tombs. Nowadays, there are seven tombs of the Nguyễn emperors in Huế, reflecting each of the emperor’s personality. Despite the passage of time, these tombs have maintained the majesty and awe due to royals. Here are the four most famous tombs that attract tourists.
Thiên Thọ Mausoleum (Tomb of Gia Long)
Thiên Thọ Mausoleum was built for emperor Gia Long (1762-1820), the first emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty. The tomb’s architecture illustrates an old-fashioned spirit of feudalism. The tomb was built in 1814 and completed in 1820. It is located on the plain and large hill of Thiên Thọ Mountain and lies along the Hương River. Besides wandering beautiful walking paths, travelers can contemplate the poetic scenery of the river after visiting the tomb.
The architecture of this mausoleum has most of the Vietnamese cultural features, such as roof tiles, dragon sculptures, red-carved columns, and three-step staircases. Since magnificent rivers and mountains surround Gia Long Mausoleum, the place is majestic yet also quiet and peaceful.
Hiếu Mausoleum (Tomb of Minh Mạng)
HiếuMausoleum was built for emperor Minh Mạng (1791-1841), located on Cẩm Khê Mountain. The tomb was built in 1840, but before it was finished, the emperor had passed away. Emperor Thiệu Trị ascended the throne and continued the construction until 1843. There is a fragrant lotus pond at the side of the tomb, surrounded by tall pine trees. The atmosphere of Minh Mạng Mausoleum is a mix of solemn and charming.
A temple structure with high stone stairs leads to the palace and emperor’s burial site. The dreamy features of the surrounding landscape contribute to the quiet space and harmonize with the Minh Mạng Mausoleum.
Khiêm Mausoleum (Tomb of Tự Đức)
The tomb of emperor Tự Đức (1829-1883) is located in Dương Xuân Thự village’s valley and is considered one of the most appealing tombs. It was completed in 1873, 10 years before the death of the emperor. At the start of construction, the emperor named it Vạn Niên Cơ. In 1866, the Chày Vôi rebellion broke out. Most of the people participating in the uprising were enraged workers who were rebelling against harsh conditions as they built the mausoleum. After suppressing the rebellion, the emperor changed its name to Khiêm Palace, and it was re-changed again to Khiêm Tomb after the emperor passed away.
Surrounding verdant trees and a large glassy water pond bring unique harmony between the structure and the natural scenery. Tự Đức Mausoleum covers an enormous area and comprises about 50 diverse styles of architecture. Each of them includes “Khiêm” in its name. In addition, the tomb’s Minh Khiêm Theater is one of the oldest theaters in Vietnam.
Khải Định Mausoleum
The tomb of emperor Khải Định (1885-1925) is located on Châu Chữ Mountain and is more modest in size than the others. The tomb was completed around 1931. Its architectural design is unique and elaborate. This mausoleum combines the styles of East and West.
Khải Định has western, meticulously carved details with dragons and lotus flowers known as oriental sculptures. A rectangular block with 127 levels, the building features Buddhist, Hindu, Roman, and Gothic designs. Inside the tomb is a collection of glass ceramics and wreaths, including Quartet paintings, Eight weapons (ornaments), and Five blessings, which are rich in traditional Vietnamese culture.
Visiting the royal tombs of the Nguyễn emperors in Huế, you will see red pillars, golden carved columns, and artifacts, including large preserved scholar-created stones.
Despite the passage of time, the royal tombs of Huế continue to keep their dignity and remain a destination of veneration.
This post is also available in: Tiếng Việt