Of the seven royal tombs in Hue city, Gia Long Tomb is the farthest one. It’s at Dinh Mon Village, Huong Tho commune, Thua Thien Hue. Among these tombs, Gia Long Tomb is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty. We do love the fact that the man himself valued his family so much that he buried all the people he loved in the same complex. We specially introduced this beautiful place as The Valley of Love.
The love story of Emperor Gia Long and his wife
Spending most of his life fighting against the Tay Son to gain back the power, Emperor Gia Long finally unified the country and came to the throne in 1802. His tomb was mainly built in 6 years. In 1814, when his first queen died, he ordered the construction of Thien Tho tomb. This is the only tomb in Hue that has double – grave tomb of the Emperor and Empress, which reflects the great love they shared.
In 1780, during the war against the Tay Son, he got married to Tong Thi Lan – the daughter of a Nguyen mandarin. After the fall of Phu Xuan to the Tay Son in 1775, she followed her father to Gia Dinh and then became Lord Nguyen Phuc Anh’s wife in 1778. Two years later, she gave birth to Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh. As a very kind and elegant woman, Tong Thi Lan was always beside and supported Emperor Gia Long when he was in bad situations.
It’s said that in 1783, before leaving to fight against the Tay Son, Nguyen Phuc Anh had a piece of gold broken in two, keeping one half himself and giving her the other half. Many years later, in spite of overcoming many difficulties, when seeing him again, she still kept it with her always, which touched by Emperor Gia Long.
Following Gia Long’s ascension to the throne, she became Nguyen Phi in 1778. Later, she was given the title of Empress Thua Thien posthumously. Empress Gia Long also chose her son, Prince Nguyen Phuc Canh, to be the heir to the throne. However, unfortunately, in 1801, he died because of smallpox.
In 1814, she passed away at the age of 53. Emperor Gia Long was deeply sad and mournful. He decided to build a grand mausoleum so that they could be side by side forever. Later, Emperor Gia Long ordered to bury her at the same place with him in Gia Long Tomb.
The structure of Gia Long Tomb
People started the construction of the tomb in 1814, after the death of Empress Thua Thien. At that time, Emperor Gia Long often stayed at the site for several days to oversee the work personally.
It took 6 years to complete the tomb, after death of Emperor Gia Long. It structure comprises three distinct areas overlooking a lake. Moreover, there are two large obelisks on the opposite side of the lake.
When you enter the Temple Area, they will pass three – entrance gate with its small upper pavilion. In the center of this area is Minh Thanh Temple, the dedicated temple of Emperor Gia Long and Empress Thua Thien. The main shrine houses the ancestral tablets of the King and the Queen. You can also find some monuments of Gia Long and the Citadel here.
The second area is the Tomb Enclosure. The tomb originally had a main complex with the double-grave tomb of the Emperor and Empress in the center. Around the Tomb Enclosure are several free standing screens, which protect the entrance to the inner tomb compounds.
The last area of this mausoleum is the Stele House. Emperor Minh Mang did compose an inscription to describe the life and merits of his father.
Despite of not being big and sophisticated as other tombs in Hue, Gia Long Tomb is the most beautiful and impressive one. With beautiful natural landscape, the architecture of the tomb is quite special. There is a good blend of architecture and nature. The mountains and hills acted as fences to cover and protect the tomb.
The best time to visit Gia Long Tomb is in the afternoon. At this time, we will be able to contemplate the beautiful sunset from the other side of the lake. The beautiful pine forest dimly looms in the sun, which creates a majestic and imposing scene.Priest Léopold Michel Cardière
How to get to Gia Long Tomb
To get to Gia Long tomb, visitor can travel by boat about 18 kilometers along Perfume River. Besides, you can also use car or motorbike. There’s a new bridge to connect Gia Long Tomb area with mainland. It’s best to have a tour with local guide to take you here.
From July 2018, ticket to visit Gia Long Tomb is 40000 dong/adult. After visiting this place, you can follow the bank of the lake to visit other relics of Thien Tho Tomb complex.
Now let’s take a look at this stunning video to see what you can expect to see when visiting Gia Long tomb:
On the right of the lake is Empress Thuan Thien’s tomb (Thien Tho Huu Tomb) and her dedicated temple. Next is the Gia Thanh Temple, which is built upon the foothills of Thuan Son mountain. Besides, this is also a lot of Nguyen Dynasty royal family members’ resting places, including Gia Long’s mother and his elder sister.
You should take your time to explore Gia Long Tomb complex to feel the love that peacefully exists in this special place. Also, in case you want to go into learning more about how Buddhism and Confucianism influence Gia Long Tomb, you can check out The Zen Tour here.
In case you want to know more about the noble life of Emperor Gia Long – the first ruler of Nguyen Dynasty, you can find here.
Or if you visit Hue for the first time are interested in Hue history and architecture, you should check our destination guides.
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