Hue, the mausoleum of Tu Duc • Vietnam

Watch this photo montage about the mausoleum of the emperor in Hue in Vietnam.

This film was made on the basis of photos and videos taken during the trip Vietnam & Cambodia • 2014

Reading the text below will help you better understand the historical context of the sites shown in this video.



Kings and emperors have always given great importance to their tomb. Thus we see mausoleums all over the world, each more impressive than the other. Whether it was the Taj Mahal in India, a tomb given by Emperor Shah Jahan to his wife Mumtaz Mahal, or the mausoleum of Tamerlane in Samarkand, these eternal residences were meant to perpetuate the memory of their occupant for generations to come.

In Vietnam, ancestor worship is deeply rooted in the population. The dead are part of life there. A fortiori for emperors and other members of the ruling class.


When we walk in the Vietnamese countryside, we often come across tombs that are much more luxurious than the dwellings. One has the impression that the Vietnamese spends more for his grave than for his house.


Tu Duc lived ten years in his mausoleum


So it's not surprising that Emperor Tu Duc took 20 years to build his mausoleum, or even that he lived part of his life there, during his last ten years. And fate would have it that he was not buried there, but in another place in Hue, a place which was kept secret. Tu Duc was an emperor of the Nguyen dynasty.

The mausoleum, made up of several dozen buildings in a 12-hectare park, was designed by Tu Duc himself. This park is planted with large trees guaranteeing the shade necessary for the tranquility of the place and has several bodies of water.

The Emperor had over a hundred wives with whom he enjoyed lounging in this place where he thought he was buried.


Tu Duc


Tu Duc's reign lasted from 1847 to 1883. Emperor Tu Duc is a very controversial figure. Second in line, Tu Duc was preferred by his father, Emperor Thieu Tri, to succeed him in place of his eldest son Hong Bao. There followed a revolt led by the latter who was imprisoned and died in prison.

Tu Duc was a staunch Confusianist and always rejected all outside influence and all relations with other countries, including trade relations. As such, he executed a large number of Christian priests and bishops who came to preach their religion in Vietnam.

This attitude angered Napoleon III who decided to invade Vietnam, which was done in 1858.

Tu Duc was forced to cede its southern provinces to France and this region has since been known as Cochinchina. The abandonment of this part of the empire was not appreciated by the people and many patriots refused to apply the treaty signed by the emperor and fought against the French invader.

The emperor regretted his decision to submit to France until his last breath and remains to this day a contested sovereign and the subject of debate among historians.


Spoken comments in the film: 

Emperor Tu Duc, poet and artist, but also a politician fiercely opposed to any foreign influence in his country, contributed by his intransigence and his exactions against the European missionaries to precipitate the invasion of his country by the French forces, which meant the end of Imperial Vietnam in short order. 

He himself drew the plans for his mausoleum, made up of a hundred buildings scattered in a 12-hectare park near the imperial city of Hue. Although he lived there the last years of his life, he was never buried there. His body rests elsewhere, in an undisclosed location.

Hue, mausoleum of Tu Duc  • Vietnam

What's the weather like in Hue?

about the place, Hué:

Located near the demarcation line set by the Geneva Accords in 1954 between the two Vietnams (the 17th parallel), Hue is the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Hue is crossed by the Perfume River and its main resources come from fishing, but above all from tourism. The city has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1993. 

Capital of the empire, Hué was the imperial residence and one of its highlights is the Forbidden City built during the 19th century. 

The city has a long history of wars and devastation. The Forbidden City was burned and destroyed in 1885 by the French who looted the city and massacred its inhabitants. It also paid a heavy price in the Vietnam War, bombed by the Americans and targeted by the Viet Minh.



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• Disclaimer: As traditional music is often subject to copyright (claimed by major music distribution groups), the musical illustration of this film "Hue, the mausoleum of Tu Duc • Vietnam" does not use typical music of Vietnam but is borrowed from a collection of royalty-free music. Despite the painstaking care given to the musical choices in this film, some people may regret this choice, but it is the price to pay for not incurring unnecessary lawsuits. This decision was difficult to take, but it's the only viable solution, unfortunately. •

Luu Kiem Lake, within the grounds of Emperor Tu Duc's summer palace, Hue • Vietnam
Luu Kiem Lake, within the grounds of Emperor Tu Duc's summer palace
main courtyard at the entrance to the tomb of Tu Duc, Hue • Vietnam
main courtyard at the entrance to the tomb of Tu Duc
Gateway of one of the courtyards of the mausoleum of Tu Duc, Hue • Vietnam
Gateway of one of the courtyards of the mausoleum of Tu Duc
the pavilion of the stele, mausoleum of Tu Duc, Hue • Vietnam
the pavilion of the stele, mausoleum of Tu Duc

Hué, Vietnam

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