Tomb of Tu Duc

Wander through this serene parkland and explore dozens of buildings constructed to provide a luxurious resting place for the emperor both before and after death.

Stroll along the tranquil shoreline of Luu Khiem Lake and view exquisite sculpted horses and elephants that line the pathway. Stand in awe at the emperor’s immense stone tablet before you head to the proposed burial site at the Tomb of Tu Duc.

Tu Duc was the fourth emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty and reigned from 1848 to 1883. He is famous for being a scholar. Visit this luxurious tomb built as a place where he could relax and practice his studies in peace.

Begin your journey around this 30-acre (12-hectare) complex near the lake’s edge. From here you can see two of the spaces where the emperor relaxed during the summer. The small tree-covered island on the right was where he hunted small birds while the rickety pavilion on the left provided a beautiful spot to meditate and recite poetry.

Continue on beside the murky green water until you reach the large Honor Courtyard. Stop here for a moment to admire the figures of elephants, horses and mandarin soldiers that form a pathway to the imposing gray pavilion. Through the towering arched entrances on either side you can see the stone tablet. This weighs approximately 22 tons (20 tonnes). The inscriptions that it bears were drafted by Tu Duc himself. As an emperor, he had more than 100 wives and approved forced labor. Note that his words express regret at some of his actions during his life.

Before you leave, be sure to glimpse the mausoleum itself, a gray walled-off building on the edge of a small lagoon. This is not where the emperor was actually laid to rest. In order to deter grave robbers, he and his great fortune were buried in a secret location. In a rather gruesome twist, all 200 servants who carried out the process were then promptly beheaded.

Visit the Tomb of Tu Duc in Thuong Ba Village, 3 miles (5 kilometers) south of Hue. The tomb is open to the public all week and there is a small admission charge.