Among the kings of the Nguyen Dynasty, King Tu Duc is considered the most proficient in Eastern culture. He is good at history, philosophy, literature, and art, especially poetry. This is reflected in the architecture of Tu Duc Tomb. Tu Duc Tomb is really a complex of architectural works, including Tu Duc burial ground. The Complex is located in a narrow valley of Thuong Ba village, Thuy Xuan Ward, Hue City.
In 1864, when the construction of the tomb began, King Tu Duc named the complex Van Nien Co with the desire that the work would have long existed. However, due to the very hard construction, many people resented.
In 1866, the nineteenth year of Tu Duc, the Chay Voi revolt began due to the dissatisfaction of those who are suffering from the harsh labor epidemics to build Van Nien Co, Doan Huu Trung (nephew of Tu Duc) together with the children launched a revolt, but only with rudimentary weapons. (a pestle – a labor tool), the coup quickly failed. Then, King Tu Duc had to rename Van Nien Co into Khiem Cung, and write a lovelorn expression for the sins. In 1873, Khiem Cung was completed. Since the king died the Tomb has been called Khiem Lang or Tu Duc Tomb.
Within the area of about 12 hectares, the panorama of Tu Duc Tomb has nearly 50 architectural works spread out in clusters on the complex land higher and lower than 10m. The step systems are paved with stone, the winding passage is paved brick, linking all the buildings into a unified, correlated, close form. All the buildings have the Khiem word in the name. The Tomb is divided into 2 areas that are Tam Dien one and Tu Duc Tomb one. Tam Dien one is Place where the king rests and entertains and Tu Duc Tomb area is the place for burying the king.
Through the Khiem Cung Gate (three-floor three-entrance gate) is Tam Dien area, which is a palace system consisting of several dozens of large and small buildings reserved for the king to rest and entertain. In the middle is the Hoa Khiem Palace, where to worship the king and empress. Here still preserves many contemporary objects and artworks. Especially, there is also Minh Khiem Duong with special decorative value, which is considered one of the oldest theater in Vietnam. In the area has also Luu Khiem Lake, in the middle of the lake is Tinh Khiem Island with flowers and grass. On the banks of the lake are Xung Khiem Ta and Du Khiem Ta, where the king admired flowers, poetry, read books…
If the buildings in Tam Dien area is made of wood, the buildings in the tomb area are built of brick and stone. Prominent is the stele of Tu Duc Tomb, which is the largest tomb stele in Vietnam. The stele has the weight of up to 22 tons, protected by a massive fortified building with large columns and thick walls. The stonework is made of a monolithic stone slab with kneeling legs and carved elaborate dragon cloud, tiger face, and S-folded pattern. “Khiem Cung Ky” work was composed by King Tu Duc. The work is an autobiography talking about his life and career. In particular, the stele “Khiem Cung Ky” has been recognized as a national treasure since 2015. In Tu Duc Tomb area, there is a place named Buu Thanh, which is built of brick. In the middle is a small house built of stone, where the king is buried. Buu Thanh is covered with a four-season green pine forest. In addition, the drainage system throughout the Tu Duc Tomb area is also designed, built at a high level and very good circulation.
In general, every building in Tu Duc Tomb has a different style of art, not duplicate and very vivid. The layout of areas also breaks the usual symmetry in some other tombs. Visitors arriving at Tu Duc Tomb also see the architectural lines of freedom, harmony with nature, evoking many aesthetic feelings. That reflects the soul of a poet king. Tu Duc Tom is the most beautiful royal Tomb in Vietnam. In the journey visiting Hue, we cannot miss the opportunity of watching this unique work. Certainly, Watching will give us many new strange thoughts and feelings.