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The

Minh Mang Tomb

is one of the most interesting emperor tombs in Hue. It is situated 12 km outside the city, on Cam Ke Hill, on the west bank of the

Perfume River

and can be reached by car or – much nicer – by boat. Emperor Minh Mang (1820 – 1841) was the second son of Emperor Gia Long, who founded the last Vietnamese dynasty, the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945). He had been planning to build a tomb for himself as early as 1826. But it was not until September 1840, after fourteen years of looking for a suitable location, that the construction of the tomb began. During the building phase, in January 1841, Minh Mang got ill and passed away at the age of 52. Emperor Thieu Tri, his successor to the throne, continued the task according to his father’s plans. Minh Mang’s corpse was buried in Buu Thanh in August 1841. The construction of the tomb, however, was not completed until two years later, in 1843. The Minh Mang Tomb is renowned for its architecture, which fits harmoniously into the surrounding landscape. Like in other tombs of this period, the general elements of the tomb architecture are: outer-walls, triple gate (Tam Quan Gate), Salutation Court, Stele House, temples, lakes, pavilions, gardens and the tomb itself. The structure is laid out according to three main parallel axis, the center of which is the Than Dao path

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Dai Hong Mon:

It is the main gate to enter the tomb. The gate presents three paths with 24 heaving roofs covered with beautiful decorations. The gate was opened only once to bring the Emperor’s coffin to the tomb, and had been tightly closed since then. Visitors have to use the two side-gates Ta Hong Mon (Left Gate) and Huu Hong Mon (Right Gate). Bi Dinh: Behind Dai Hong Mon (big gate) is the Honour Courtyard with its two rows of mandarins, elephants and horses’ statues. Bi Dinh (Stele Pavilion) is on Mount Phung Than. Inside is the stele “Thanh Duc Than Cong”, inscribed with the Emperor’s biography and merits written by his son Thieu Tri.

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The temple area:

The Salutation Court is divided into four steps – The Hien Duc Mon (gate) leads to the worship place. In the centre is Sung An Temple surrounded by Ta, Huu Phoi Dien (Left, Right Temples) in the front and Ta, Huu Tung Phong (Left, Right Rooms) in the back. The Emperor and Queen Ta Thien Nhan are worshipped in Sung An Temple. Then, Hoang Trach Mon (gate) leads to the Bright Pavilion (Minh Lau), built on Tam Tai Mount. It is a square pavilion with two storeys and eight roofs. On both sides of Minh Lau, two obelisks stand on the hills. In the back of Minh Lau are two flower gardens designed as the character “Longevity”.

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The tomb (Buu Thanh):

Tan Nguyet (New Moon) crescent Lake embraces the circular Buu Thanh (The wall surrounding the grave). There are three bridges on Tan Nguyet Lake. Visitors have to climb 33 Thanh stone steps to reach the sepulchre of the Emperor. Besides nearly 60 word boxes of carved poems in the Stele Pavilion, Hien Duc gate, Sung An Temple, and Minh Pavilion are also remarkable and constitute an anthology of chosen poems of Vietnam’s early 19th century.

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Visiting

Minh Mang’s tomb

, one is impressed by the majesty and symmetry of the architectural constructions.

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