The zenith of the Nguyen Dynasty was reached during the reign of Emperor Minh Mang (1820 – 1840) who was known not only as the Nguyen Dynasty’s most powerful king but also for his hundreds of royal concubines and 142 children.
Located on Cam Ke Mountain (Golden Cock Mountain) about 12 kilometers from Hue City, Minh Mang’s Tomb was built over four years (1840 – 1843) by 10,000 soldiers and workers.
Observing strictly geomantic rules, the tomb consists of about 40 monuments of various dimensions. All lie within a wall that is oval in shape and 2,000 meters in circumference.
Running east-west from the Dai Hong Gate to the farthest part of the surrounding wall, the main axis of the tomb is more than 700 meters long. The most important constructions along the wall are the Salutation Court, Stele House, Sung An Temple, Minh Lau Pavillion and the tomb. Secondary monuments are symmetrically arranged in pairs.
Most of the monuments mirror themselves in man-made lakes, especially the romantic lake of Trung Minh where the Emperor placed the Nghenh Luong Pavillion (Pavillion for Welcoming Pillars).
The tomb planning reflects the strict social organization in Minh Mang times, the centralism and the monarch’s Confucian doctrines.
Tourists are attracted to the tomb’s solemnity and symmetry. Like other tombs in Hue Ancient Capital that have been damaged by wars and natural calamities, Minh Mang Tomb was listed in the world’s most endangered sites in 2000. However, with financial support from UNESCO and other sponsors, it has been restored. Along with King Tu Duc Tomb, it is a popular heritage site in Hue. By Kinh Luan in Hue
Two visitors sit in the Stele House at the King Minh Mang’s Tomb
Foreign visitors pass by King Minh Mang’s Tomb in Hue City
The Trung Minh Lake in the King Minh Mang’s Tomb – Photos: Kinh Luan