The Tomb of Khải Định, also known as the Ứng Mausoleum, is a unique tomb built for Khải Định, the twelfth Emperor of the Nguyễn dynasty of Vietnam. Completed in 1931 after 11 years of construction, it is located on Châu Chữ mountain near the former capital city of Huế. The tomb showcases a fusion of Vietnamese and Western architectural styles, blending elements of Vietnamese tradition with Baroque, Gothic, and Neoclassical influences. In 1993, it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of the Complex of Huế Monuments.
Khai Dinh (1885-1925)with his real name, Nguyen Phuc Buu Dao, the only son of King Dong Khanh, was the 12th king of the Nguyen Dynasty, from 1916-1925. Among the 13 kings of the Nguyen dynasty, Khai Dinh was the most for and against. In addition to playing, gambling, he was often attacked by the contemporary press because of his gaudy dress, disobedient to ancient royal attire and liking makeup.
In 1920, Khai Dinh Tomb was started but it was in progress. In 1925, the king died. The construction work was continued by King Bao Dai until 1931.
According to many records, in order to have money to build the tomb, King Khai Dinh asked the government to increase the tax by 30% and for people to France, China and Japan to buy iron, steel, cement and porcelain, colored glass … Because of that, he was harshly condemned by history.
Khai Dinh Tomb is located in a quiet location, in Thuy Bang commune, Huong Thuy town, Thua Thien Hue province. Surrounding Khai Dinh tomb with many interesting places to visit such as Thien An Hill, Thuy Tien Abandoned Park, … This work clearly reflects the luxurious personality, likes to show of Khai Dinh.
Located on a modest area, only about 117m × 48.5m but built very meticulously, the beauty of Khai Dinh Tomb is always praised by researchers and tourists. Like the tomb of the predecessors, Khai Dinh Tomb is planned according to the oriental feng shui philosophy. In addition, the king also changed the name of Chau Chu mountain to Ung Son mountain and the name of the tomb are also named after the mountain as Ung Lang.
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As a person who was fond of foreign, Khai Dinh built his tomb with a combination of modern Western architectural style and traditional Oriental architecture. This is also the only tomb with a mix of East and West. Built quite high up so to visit this tourist destination, visitors must pass 127 stairs.
The most prominent in Khai Dinh Tomb is Thien Dinh Palace – where the king’s corpse is located. There are two statues of Khai Dinh in the palace: one dressed in French soldiers casted in Vietnam and one wearing imperial mantle casted in France. In particular, on the ceiling of three houses in the middle of the palace, there are also three biggest “9 dragons hidden in the clouds” paintings in Vietnam designed by artist Phan Van Tanh.
Another difference of Khai Dinh Tomb compared to the tombs of previous kings is that the position of the king’s body in other tombs is difficult to determine but Khai Dinh tomb is very clearly positioned. The reason is because of the historical situation, during King Khai Dinh’s reign and when he died, all actions of the Nguyen court were monitored by French officials.
Today, over 80 years, Khai Dinh Tomb is still quite intact with the original architectural features.
- Location: Châu Chữ mountain, near Huế city, Thua Thien Hue province, Vietnam.
- Construction Period: 1920-1931 (11 years).
- Architectural Style: A combination of Vietnamese and Western styles, incorporating Baroque, Gothic, and Neoclassical elements.
- Materials Used: Concrete, steel, iron, and slate.
- Unique Features:
- Grand staircase and triple-arched memorial gateway at the entrance.
- Stone statues lining the pathway, symbolizing protection and guidance.
- Two-tiered octagonal reinforced concrete stele pavilion.
- Thiên Định Palace with its grayish-white exterior, five arched entrances, and intricate stone carvings.
- Lavishly decorated interior of the palace, featuring colorful glass and porcelain decorations.
- Bronze statue of Emperor Khải Định in full regalia.
- Artistic Significance: The tomb is renowned for its exquisite porcelain and glassware decorations, including the ceiling painting “Cuu long an van” (nine dragons amidst fleeting clouds) by artisan Phan Văn Tánh.
- Surrounding Environment: The tomb is situated amidst mountains and streams, creating a majestic natural scenery that enhances its Feng-Shui elements.
See more: Hue Travel Guide