The so-called Gia Long Tomb has a complicated history of construction because in fact, it is a complex of tombs which includes not only the tomb of Emperor Gia Long, but also the tombs of other members of royalty. The complex covers a large area in Dinh Mon Village; tombs were added at different times over a period of two centuries (17-19 century).
After suitable land for the tomb was found, the Emperor frequently visited the area and supervise the construction. He gave the mountainous area the name Thien Tho Son and allotted each of the 42 hills and mountains of different altitudes within the area with an individual name. The Minh Thanh Temple, as well as most of the temple section in the Tomb, was completed in 1815. The work of building the main structures of the Tomb lasted for six years, from 1814 to 1820. Some other structures were completed later.
There is stone steel to the left of the tomb erected on September 18, 1820, which bears an inscription titled ‘The Merits ol the Emperor’ written by Emperor Minh Mang himself on august 10, 1820. The two rows of stone statues of mandarins,horses, and elephants at the Bai Dinh courtyard in front of the Palace, where mandarins stood during a court audience, were not completed until April 1833
Of the seven royal Tombs, the Gia Long Tomb is the farthest from the Hue Ancient Capital. However, it is the most imposing in terms of the natural landscape. Looking around from the center of the Tomb, a person will easily feel small in the midst of an area of mountains and hills that seem to extend endlessly. The choice of landscape here shows the King’s zeal for embracing the whole country in his arms. It should be mentioned that the King had struggled on the battlefield for a quarter of a century before finally unifying the country and becoming the first emperor of the Nguyen Dynasty.
The architects of the time managed to impose control over nature and force the surrounding landscape to comply with human intentions by creating architectural structures which were artistic and appropriate, but modest in scale. The whole complex is a skilful blend of architectural design and nature. It has no pavilions, palaces, or ramparts: the surrounding mountains and hills serve as its natural defense. The stone tombs of the Emperor and his wife are the simplest structures and are Positioned parallel and close to each other. However, the close proximity of the two tombs manifests the loyalty and strong attachment between the Emperor and his wife, who together had experienced the vagaries of time and fate during the Emperor’s life as a warrior, making the Gia Long Tomb different to the other royal Tombs in Hue.
The Gia Long Tomb was the first model for a Tomb in Hue and later used as reference by the following emperors when building their own Tombs. It contributes to expressing the style of an emperor who founded the Nguyen dynasty.
Take part in Hue city tour and visit this mausoleum.
How to get there
There are 2 ways to go to Gia Long Tomb, which is really a remote spot, even for local people.
- One is travelling by boat along Perfume River, which can be taken at the wharf at Toa Kham boat station. The boat trip is really worth a try, since it provides a unique chance to capture the scenic landscape of upstream Perfume River.
- The other method is to go 15 km by car. You go to Minh Mang tomb (10 km from city center) and through new bridge, from there, go straight to Gia Long tomb. It takes 5 km.