Tu Duc Tomb is one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty. It is packed with frangipani trees and grove of pines in a narrow valley in Duong Xuan Thuong village (currently Thuong Ba village, Thuy Xuan Commune, Hue City). Coming to Tu Duc mausoleum, visitors don’t think that that it is the resting place of a deceased person, but imagines a paradise of trees, of poetry and dream.
History of Tu Duc Tomb
Emperor Tu Duc, born in 1829, was the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty. Tu Duc had reigned for over 36 years from 1847 to 1883, longest among other emperors s of the Nguyen Dynasty, but he failed to rule the country. Although talented, this gentle king had a bad luck. He had crowned king in the historical period of Vietnam facing the Western developing capitalism. Although the King had had 103 wives and concubines at his palace, but no children. He was often ill, and he was likely sterile due to smallpox early in his life. To avoid the harsh life, Emperor Tu Duc decided to build his tomb as a fairyland with poetical features. There his life was recreated, then became a world for his eternal life after death.
The tomb was constructed between 1864 and 1867. King Tu Duc named the tomb as Van Nien Co, which means desire to live forever along history. However, the construction of Tu Duc’s tomb requires an incredible amount of money and labour. To build the work on time (after 6 years), hundred millions of farmer and workers had to work extremely hard from early morning to late in the evening. There was not adequate food to eat or clothes to wear. This was a reason why Chay Voi revolt started. Since then, King Tu Duc rename the tomb as Khiem Cung, and write an apology essay.
Architecture of Tu Duc Tomb
Famous for poet with 600 articles, 4.000 Han poems and about 100 Nom poems, architectural features of Tu Duc mausoleum are imbued with poetry and freedom with unsymmetrical form, which is also a specific beauty of art. Setting foot in Tu Duc Tombs, visitors will hear the sounds of the flowing stream, of rustling pine hills, and of all the birds singing. The panorama of this tomb looks like as a large park. Unlike the architecture of other tombs in Hue, there is no straight road or angular architecture. Tomb of Tu Duc consists of two main parts including tomb area and temple area, arranged on two parallel vertical axes. The winding walkway by Bat Trang brick, has connected all the works into a unified whole.
Theere are nearly 50 works in the tomb and all architecture works have the Khiem word in the name. Passing Vu Khiem door and Son Than Shrine, you will see the shrine area. Chi Khiem Duong, which worships the Emperor’s wives lay on the left. On the right side of main road, there is Luu Khien lake, where the king cruises the scenery and wrote poetry. In the middle of the lake, Tinh Khien Island lie here to plant flowers and raise rare pets.
Passing Khiem Cung Mon (two-storey entrance on a higher ground), visitors arrive the palace system for the king to stay and relax. In the middle is Hoa Khiem Palace, which is the most important place where King Tu Duc worked. Now it became worshiping temple for the King and Queen. Behind Hoa Khiem Palace is Luong Khiem Palace, which is former the resting place of Emperor. As Emperor Tu Duc was so crazy in Drama, he ordered to build Minh Khiem Duong. It is one of the oldest theaters in Vietnam still existing today.
Follow the winding path to set foot in tomb area, you meet stele house with the biggest stone stele in Vietnam. It was inscribed with “Khiem Cung Ky” drafted by the Emperor to acknowledge his merit and his mistakes cleverly. Normally, the successor built the stele pavilion for his father. But Tu Duc built by himself as having no children.
In general,Tu Duc Tomb is the wonderful combination between architecture and nature. It carries a different style of visual art, not duplicate and very lively. Coming to the tomb, you step in completely different world. Not only the original architecture but also the harmony with nature make Tu Duc mausoleum becomes unforgettable in mind of the tourists.
Entrance fee: 100,000 VND ~ 4.5 USD
Opening hour: 8:00 am
Closing hour: 6:00 pm