The greatest mausoleum of Vietnam's final feudal dynasty

By Tuan Dao   September 22, 2016 | 10:25 pm GMT+7

The king had a hundred wives but no heir. His legacy is shaped in a breathtaking mausoleum on the outskirts of Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital.

Tu Duc was the fourth king of the Nguyen Dynasty, the last family to ever rule Vietnam. He also sat on the throne for longer than anyone else in his family. Anecdotal evidence says the king had up to hundreds of wives and concubines.

Sadly, a harem doesn’t guarantee heredity, the utmost duty that any man, let alone a king, in Confucian society was required to provide. Bad luck gives birth to bad luck. The adopted heir of the longest ruler of the dynasty was the shortest ruler ever. He was overthrown after three days on the throne, where his father had sat for the previous 30 years.

But a king, different from his people, has more than one way to keep memories of him alive. And the best way is to build your final resting place big.

Be it a pyramid or an enormous mansion, the mausoleum is a museum where the most beautiful things converge to remind subjects of the prosperous kingdoms their ancestors built. Today, let VnExpress guide you to one of those royal resting places, the mausoleum of Tu Duc, the heirless mega-polygamous king.

The mausoleum sits in a small valley of the central city of Hue, and with its sophisticated architecture, is agreed to be the best looking among its kind.

The mausoleum sits in a small valley in the central city of Hue, Vietnam's former imperial capital, and with its sophisticated architecture, is agreed to be the most beautiful of its kind.

Built like what we call a park today, the mausoleum boasts a lake, pine forest and streams that flowing year round.

Built in a style we would call a park today, the mausoleum boasts a lake, a pine forest and streams that flow year round.

The gate of the mausoleum

The gate of the mausoleum

[CaptionThe mausoleum had served a double duty as the resort mansion for the king when he was alive.

The mausoleum served a double duty as a resort mansion for the king when he was alive.

This room used to be the kings workplace, and is now transformed to be the place the altar of the king and queen stands.

This room used to be the king’s throne room, but now the altar of the king and queen stands in memory of the monarchs.

Right out of the living space is the path leading to the tomb.

Right out of the living space is the path leading to the tomb.

This is where the king erected a stone stilt covered with a letter that tells everything about his kingship, his apology for not being able to fulfill the duty of heredity.

This is where the king erected a stone stele covered with a message that descibes his reign and apologizes for not being able to provide an heir.

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The grave holding the king’s body lies at the heart of the complex on a prime lot according to Feng Shui methodology.

This pine forest makes the backdrop for the mausoleum. From here, there is a path that leads to where the king used to rest, now the worshipping place for Queen Tu Du, his mother.

This pine forest provides the backdrop for the mausoleum. From here, there is a path that leads to where the king used to rest, now the resting place for Queen Tu Du, his mother.

Photos by Tuan Dao

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