Today we visited 3 tombs, those of the 2nd, 4thand 12th Kings of the Nguyen dynasty who all lived in the citadel during their reign. The first tomb we saw, that of the 4th King, Tu Duc, was one of the few finished before his death and he used the large man made gardens, grounds and buildings as a holiday home. He had 104 wives and countless concubines, but no children. He adopted his Nephews who then succeeded him to the throne. The grounds of the tomb are impressive, complete with a lake and small island where he hunted small game. All 3 tombs were consistent as you approach the actual burial ground. There are statues of an elephant, horse and then the mandarins lined up in front of a small pavilion containing a stone tablet, this one the largest of the 3 we saw at 20-tonnes. Our guide told us it took them 4 years to transport this huge piece of marble to the tomb site. Then two obelisks stand before the tomb itself.
Tu Duc is not actually buried under the tomb, the real site is secret, as with all the kings he was buried with treasure. In order to protect the treasure all the men who dug the grave and knew its exact location were killed.
The tomb of the 12th King, Khai Dinh was very different. Set high on a hill accessed through beautiful red gates. The concrete construction is almost gothic and inside the tomb the walls and ceiling are completely covered in mosaic. Many of the mosaics have personal significance, the time of his death fixed on a mosaic clock and a pair of glasses somewhere else on the wall. Some of the beautiful flower mosaics are actually made from the traditional soup spoons with the handles broken off. A gilt statue of Khai Dinh sits in the centre of the tomb with his body buried 18m below.
Look closely to see the lotus flower head made from soup spoons.
The final tomb we visited was built for Minh Mang and although planned during his reign it was actually built by his successor. Set within a beautiful and calm park surrounded by a forest. The tomb is reached via a bridge over a lake. His body is buried in a hill at the back of the enclosure accessible by two large gates which are only opened once a year on the anniversary of his death.