Thieu Tri Tomb (Official name: Xuong Tomb) is the final resting place of the third Nguyen Emperor. Located peacefully in the middle of rice fields, Xuong Tomb is considered a stunning forgotten beauty of Hue. For those of you who have more than one day in Hue, this hidden gem should be on your list of Hue attractions to visit.
A Short Introduction to Thieu Tri Tomb
Born in 1807, Thieu Tri was the eldest son of Emperor Minh Mang and Empress Ta Thien Nhan. He ruled for seven years before falling ill and dying suddenly at the age of 40. Unlike his predecessor who planned out their after life early before their death, Thieu Tri had no prior burial preparation at all. Despite his wish for his descendants not to build a lavish one, Tu Duc Emperor, his successor made it relatively a grand place.
Read more of Thieu Tri’s contributions to Vietnam here.
The Construction of Thieu Tri Tomb
Following the feng-shui principles from Nguyen Dynasty, Tu Duc positioned Thieu Tri Tomb between Vong Canh Hill and Ngoc Tran Hill. They play as dragon and tiger to protect Xuong Tomb.
Construction began in 1847 under a high ranking mandarin named Vu Van Giai. With aim of finishing it as quick as possible, a huge workforce was assembled and the project was finished in just 10 months. During that time, body of the deceased Emperor was placed at Long An palace (nowadays is the Hue Antiquities Museum).
Finally, he was buried in his own tomb in 1848. Although Thieu Tri mausoleum has some similarities with Gia Long Mausoleum and Minh Mang Mausoleum but it still has its own characteristics and can be considered unique.
Getting to Thieu Tri tomb: It locates only 6 kilometers from Hue Center. There are a wide range of bus tour option as well as private tour, Grab Car and motorbike rental to get to this site. See Xuong Tomb on Google Map here.
Entrance fee and operation hours at Thieu Tri tomb: It costs 40,000 VND/ adult. It opens at 7:00 Am till 5:30 Pm daily.
What to prepare: sunglasses, comfortable shoes and a bottle of water in the sunny season during April-September, and an umbrella and raincoat/jacket during the rainy months of October-March.
Walking Tour of Thieu Tri Tomb
Approaching Thieu Tri Tomb
The lotus pond surrounding Thieu Tri is a great introduction to this unique and peaceful site. Walking from the main road to temple area, you will notice the four pillars representing for the Emperor’s power. It was built on one single axis starting from the Dien Lake ( NOTICE A in Thieu Tri Map) to Bieu Duc temple (E).
After the Dien lake, you enter a quiet open space and face yourself in front of Hong Trach Gate. Hong Trach Mon is a gate has the shape like a gazebo, the architecture is similar to Hien Duc Mon in Minh Mang Tomb and Khiem Cung Mon in Tu Duc Tomb later.
Entering Bieu Duc Temple
Bieu Duc Temple (see below) is a twin-roofed Imperial Nguyen Dynasty style building topped with yellow enameled tubular tiles. The roof ridges were decorated with dragon motifs. This building is considered the most well-decorated palaces that built during that period of time. You should also look to your left and right. There stand Ta Tung Vien and Huu Tung Vien where resemble work space for official mandarins like those in Hue Imperial City.
The central compartment at the rear houses a shrine containing the ancestral tablets of Emperor Thieu Tri and his Queen Tu Du. (See below)
Dragon motifs on Bieu Duc temple’s ridges.
Ta Tung Vien and Huu Tung Vien both are currently empty.
Entering Thieu Tri Burial Area
After visiting The Temple Area, return to the front road and fork right to Tomb Area. You will notice the similar lake to Dien lake, the Nhuan Trach Lake and a big Binh Phong Screen.
View of Nhuan Trach Lake and Binh Phong screen from main road.
Keep walking to the front stairs to enter the three-entrance gateway into the Salutation Court. You will notice on the two sides there are stone horses, elephants and mandarins.
Stone mandarins guarding the resting place of Thieu Tri tomb.
Stone horses and elephants. These are considered typical sculpture work early 19th century in Hue, Vietnam.
Continue walking onto the steps of The Stele House, you’ll view the “Thanh Duc Than Cong” stele with its 2,500 character eulogy written by Tu Duc for his father.
The Thanh Duc Than Cong stele by Tu Duc Emperor.
You will continue walking towards what was once the Duc Hinh Pavillion. According to the old documentary, Duc Hinh pavillion looks like Minh Lau in Minh Mang tomb.
Keep straight over Duc Hinh foundation, you will enter a small bridge surrounded by Nhuan Thuy Lake (N).
Ngung Thuy lake is a semi-circular lake. There are three bridges across the lake: Dong Hoa bridge (right), Chanh Trung (center) and Tay Dinh (left).
At the end of Chanh Trung bridge is Buu Thanh. Inside is Emperor’s burial graveyard.
From Buu Thanh Gate, you can see the panorama picture of the tomb area with two big obelisks on the two sides of Duc Hinh foundation. This is the end of our walking tour in Thieu Tri Tomb. You may return to main road before taking some pictures of this stunning hidden tomb.
What else to see near Thieu Tri Tomb
Hieu Dong Tomb: Tomb of Empress Ta Thien Nhan Ho Thi Hoa
Empress Ta Thien Nhan Ho Thi Hoa was first wife of Emperor Minh Mang and mother of Emperor Thieu Tri.
Xuong Tho Mausoleum: Tomb of Grand Dowager Empress Tu Du
Grand Dowager Empress Tu Du was the second wife of Emperor Thieu Tri and mother of Emperor Tu Duc. Tu Du became a highly influential figure at court during the reign of her son, Tu Duc, who had idolised her, seeking and heeding her advice on everything.
Today, after many ups and downs of our history, Thieu Tri tomb suffered huge damage from war and weather. This is the reason why the mausoleum does not attract as many visitors as Minh Mang, Tu Duc and Khai Dinh mausoleum.
With a large restoration project approved, Hue expects Thieu Tri’s restoration to its former size in the near future. Regardless its current situation, we believe its forgotten beauty and peaceful ambiance will reward those who seek for true tranquility in Hue.
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