The imperial tombs of Hue
Explore the remarkable tombs of Hue's Nguyen Dynasty: fine architecture in a glorious natural setting.
The Nguyen Emperors who reigned over Vietnam from Hue left behind them a collection of architecturally varied and atmospheric tombs scattered throughout the countryside around town. Though each individual tomb reflects the period and individual tastes of the emperor interred within, they were all designed to follow the basic rules of geomancy.
Amongst the common elements of the tombs are courtyards of stone effigies of elephants, horses and mandarins; a pavilion housing eulogies to the deceased emperior; a temple containing an altar for worshipping the emperor's soul; a pleasure pavilion, and the tomb itself. The tombs can be visited by car, motorbike, or bicycle if you're feeling energetic - but our favourite option is via the delightful cruise on the Perfume River.
Tomb of Khai Dinh
The hillside tomb of the penultimate Nguyen emperor, Khai Dinh (1916-1925), is one of Hue's most unique monuments, built in a fusion of traditional Vietnamese and European design. It is well worth climbing the steep steps, for both the tomb and the view over the wooded hills beyond. Look out for the novel use of ceramic spoons in the mosaic work!
Tomb of Tu Duc
The impressive mausoleum of Tu Duc (1847-1883) is amongst the most visited of the Hue tombs. Tu Duc began planning his tomb long before his death in 1883. The major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a palatial retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. Construction of the tomb demanded so much labour and extra taxation that there was an abortive coup against Tu Duc in 1866. This was put down, and for the remainder of his life, Tu Duc continued to use the tomb's palace buildings as his place of residence.
Tomb of Minh Mang
Built by Minh Mang's son and successor Thieu Tri, the beautiful woodland setting and fine architecture of the tomb make it worth travelling the 12 km out of town to An Bang Village where it is located.
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The imperial tombs of Hue
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From thronging modern cities to the remote mountain homes of Vietnam's colourful minority groups; from dense, steaming jungle to pristine beaches; from grand citadels to ancient ports: this itinerary demonstrates the full natural and cultural diversity that Vietnam has to offer.