Tu Duc Tomb Hue
Located in a narrow valley in Duong Xuan Thuong village (currently Thuong Ba village, Thuy Xuan Commune, Hue City), Tu Duc Tomb is one of the most beautiful works of royal architecture of the Nguyen dynasty. Lying in a sprawling lush pine forest, 8 km from Hue, this tomb is the final resting place of Emperor Tu Duc (1848-83) who enjoyed the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen dynasty. The construction of the tomb started in December 1864 and was completed in 1867.
Though the Emperor had over a hundred wives and concubines, he did not have an heir (possibly, he became sterile after contracting smallpox). In the absence of a son, it fell to him to write his own epitaph on the deeds of his reign, which he considered to be a bad omen. However, the epitaph can still be found inscribed on the stele in the pavilion just to the east of the Emperor's tomb. The stele for Tu Duc Tomb was brought here from a quarry over 500 kilometers away, taking fours years to complete the trip and is the largest of its type in Vietnam.
Tu Duc had begun planning for his tomb long before he died in 1883. In fact, the major portions of the tomb complex were completed from 1864-67, along with future temple buildings that served as a palatial retreat for Tu Duc and his many wives during his lifetime. To complete the elaborate construction of his tomb, the emperor demanded so much corvee labor and levied such extra taxation that there was an abortive coup against Tu Duc in 1866. However, Tu Duc was able to suppress the coup, with the help of his generals and he continued to use the tomb's palace buildings as his place of residence for the remainder of his life.
The royal amenities available at this tomb are unmatched compared to any other tomb in Vietnam. The palace area of the tomb has a lake where Emperor used to boat, a small game hunting ground on the tiny island in the lake's middle and the luxurious Xung Khiem Pavilion where he could recline and recite or compose poetry in the company of his concubines.
The most interesting part about this tomb is that despite the grandeur of the site and the amount of time Tu Duc spent here, he was actually buried in a different, secret location somewhere in Hue. Even today, the mystery of the hidden, real tomb of Tu Duc perplexes many historians.