Minh Mang Tomb is one of the most impressive and popular tombs in Hue, located 12km from Hue city, on the west bank of the Perfume River and in the Mount Cam Ke. Hue city is ancient capital of Vietnam and well-known city of World Heritage by historical sites, ancient citadel, tombs, temples,… There are seven well-known Royal Tombs in Hue including Minh Mang, Tu Duc, Khai Dinh, Gia Long, Thieu Tri, Duc Duc, and Dong Khanh.
King Minh Mang is the second ruler of Nguyen dynasty. As the result, he governed southern and central Vietnam from 1820 to 1840. He designed and planned to build his tomb and started constructing in 1840 under his reign but he died early in 1841. So his son – King Thieu Tri continued and completed the task until 1843.
Architecture of Minh Mang tomb
Ming Mang Royal tomb reflects Chinese architectural concepts, surrounded by a wall enclosing inside 40 big and small constructions: palaces, temples, pavilions, etc. The structure of tomb is a perfect symmetrical central axis by way of path, where the different monuments lies in. (Contrast with Tu Duc’s Tomb). The whole arrangement is surrounded with reflective ponds fringed with pine trees.
When visit Ming Mang tomb, you need to park your vehicle outside the entrance then walk to a ticket office and meet entrance of tomb calling Dai Hong Mon Gate (Great Red Gate). The Dai Hong Mon Gate consists of three doors, a central door and two side doors. But you only use two side doors to get into Minh Mang tomb. People said that the central door was opened only once to let the Emperor’s body and then it has been closed until now, no reason to open it.
From the Dai Hong Mon gate, you walk about half a kilometer to reach to Honour Courtyard. There two rows of statue stone is standing, representing for mandarins, elephants and horse. In the central of courtyard, you may climb up granite staircases to the square of Stele Pavilion, which contains stele: “Thanh Duc Than Cong inscribed with the King’s biography and written by his son Thieu Tri.
The temple area & tomb
After Stele Pavilion, crossing series of courtyards, you will access Salutation Court. Salutation Court divided into Hien Duc Mon gate, Sung An temple, Huu Phoi Dien, Huu Tung Phong. King Ming Mang and his wife are worshipped in the Sung An Temple. Finally, Hoang Trach Mon gate heads to the Bright Pavilion (Minh Lau Pavilion) – a square two-storey pavilion with eight roofs. This sits on the top of three terraces representing three powers in the world: heaven, earth and water.
On the other hand, two obelisks stand on the hills on the both sides of Minh Lau. And behind Minh Lau is two flower gardens with the shape of character “Longevity”. Closer to the tomb area, New Moon Lake (Ho Tan Nguyet) have crescent shape, embracing circular wall surrounding the grave (Buu Thanh). If you want to visit sepulcher of the Emperor. You must climb 33 stone stairs, its shape looks like the forms of a dragon.
How to get the Minh Mang tomb
There are many ways to get to Minh Mang tomb; the easiest way is take car, motorbike from Hue center about one hour. However, taking a boat trip (about 2 hours) from Huong Pier is the best way. You not only visit only Minh Mang Tomb, but Thien Mu pagoda, Hon Chen Temple and Gia Long Tomb on the way. You also have time to relax with fresh atmosphere of Perfume River.
Visiting Minh Mang tomb, you will have an impression on the mystery, ancient architectural constructions and solemn space.