Huế, Danang, and Hoian seem to be a perfect trio that when you visit one place, you are most likely to visit the other two. For Huế, what triggers the first thought of Vietnamese people is the solemn imperial capital filled with holy shrines, a phenomenal Citadel, the dream-like scenery, and the set of royal tombs. Amongst those, the Tomb of Emperor Khải Định is believed to capture the finest essence of Western and Eastern architectural values, which hence gives out a splendid insight into the history of Huế, Vietnam.
King Khải Định biography
King Khải Ðịnh was born in the year 1885 and left the living World in 1925, known as the 12th descendant of the Nguyễn Dynasty, the very last feudal monarch of Vietnam. Khải Định stepped on the throne at the age of 31. Khải Ðịnh’s given name is Nguyễn Phúc Bửu Ðảo. He is Emperor Đồng Khánh’s only heir. When Emperor Duy Tân was expatriated to Africa by the French colonists after a defeated rebellion, Bửu Đảo was the next to be enthroned and adapted a courtesy name known as Khải Định. Since his first years of ruling the reign, Khải Định expressed his ardent love for various constructions of massive buildings and palaces as well as mausoleums upon his own use.
King Khải Định (Source: Google)
Several iconic landmarks could be counted as the palaces of Kiến Trung, An Định, Trường An, Hiển Nhơn, Chương Đức and obviously, the tremendous Ứng Mausoleum – better known as the Tomb of Khải Ðịnh. After 9 years on the throne, Khải Định passed away in 1925 at the age of 40.
Ứng Mausoleum in the past (Source: Google)
Visiting a strong European-influenced crypt of King Khải Định
Being selected as the next emperor of Vietnam in 1916, Khải Định picked Mount Châu Chữ, 10 kilometers away from Huế City, for the construction of the tomb. The progress took place on the 4th of September, 1920 and lasted up to 11 years. Ứng Mausoleum is recorded to be the very last building of the Nguyễn Dynasty and seen as the most outstanding attraction of all, thanks to the usage of modern components and the fusion of diversified architectural styles.
The outer look (Source: Google)
When put on the scale against the rest of the tombs built by his ascendants, Khải Định Mausoleum owns a significantly smaller figure in size yet requires a painstaking progress and duration to be completed. The tomb witnesses a harmony of both European and Oriental breath, which means the country had obtained the best of both Worlds, of the old and the new.
Panorama (Source: Google)
Tomb of Khải Định, as said, took 11 years straight to be finished and lasted under the reign of two rulers, King Khải Định and Emperor Bảo Đại. Khải Định Tomb would leave a spectacular impression on its beholders at the very first sight with its magnificent quadrate standing on a large campus atop a 127-step path. The building holds in itself a great harmony of Hinduism (seen in the presence of tower-like gate), Buddhism (witnessed in the appearance of Stupa pillars) and Roman Gothic (observed through a set of the wide and broad dorms, as well as the blackened concrete covering most of the exterior).
The 127-step path (Source: Google)
The Mausoleum had a distinctive use of modern elements such as iron, steel, cement, Ardoise tiles, and a lot more, which were all imported directly from France under the demand of Emperor Khải Định. Every single interior furniture scattered throughout the three central compartments of the building was decorated with precious embossments cast by Chinese and Japanese ceramics and crystals.
Two stone sentinels (Source: Google)
The main segment of the whole site is Thiên Định Palace, which sees the burial of Emperor Khải Định, owns the most spectacular designation and artistic values even up to now. Stretching across the ceiling is a vast painting of “Nine Latent Dragon in The Clouds”.
His smaller miniature in a French commando outfit (Source: Google)
In addition, there are two bronze statues of King Khải Định discovered. The outer one illustrates the King in a French commando outfit cast in Vietnam domestically. The other one is solemnly placed on the altar made in France by the two artisans and covered with gold by a native Huế artisan. The actual tomb of King Khải Định is announced to be placed right underneath the altar. Paying a visit inside the Mausoleum with a local guide, your lesson about the history of Huế, Vietnam would be much deepened by the mystic stories.
- Address: Tomb of Khải Định, Thủy Bằng Commune, Hương Thủy District, Thừa Thiên Huế Province.
- Operation time: 7:00 – 18:00.
- Ticket price: VND 100.000/adult and 20.000/child (7 – 12 years of age).
Amongst the chain of the mausoleums, the flamboyant Ứng Mausoleum, or Tomb of Khải Định is definitely a must-see if you are hesitating towards what to pick out of the list. To fully explore the history of Huế, Vietnam, book a tour package for your own good convenience and lessons.