If you are curious of knowing the brilliant architects behind the Hue Citadel, visit The To Mieu. Its architecture and history values will undoubtedly win a visit of your in Hue.
The To Mieu’s Origin
The Mieu, also known as The To Mieu is a temple to worship of the Nguyen Dynasty emperors with the location in the southwest of the Imperial Citadel.
Previously, this place used to be the Hoàng Khảo Temple for Lord Nguyễn Phúc Côn. He was the father of Emperor Gia Long.
In 1821-1822, Emperor Minh Mang moved Hoang Khao Mieu 50 meters to the north and renamed it, the Hưng Tổ
Originally dedicated to worship the Emperor The To Cao whose is the posthumous name of Emperor Gia Long. Hence came the name of The To temple today.
In the later years, it becomes the place of worship of all emperors of Nguyen Dynasty nowadays. During all ceremonies held inside the temple, women were forbidden to enter. Luckily for The To Mieu, the war did not do much damage to this place making it the most intact temple in Hue Imperial City.
Gracely fitting in a 2-hectare rectangular compound, due to its importance to Nguyen Ritual purpose, The Mieu’s area accounts for 1/18 of the total area of the Imperial Citadel and the Forbidden City.
Inside this campus, besides the Temple, the The To Mieu complex also has other signicficant works such as Hung To Mieu, Tho Cong Tu, Cuu Dinh, Hien Lam Cac and the Ta Vu, Huu Vu.
A Walking Tour through the Sacred The To Mieu
From the entrance of the temple
This is main gate of The To Mieu, the Mieu Mon. The fact that the gate has the “Tam Quan”, the typical architecture style of Nguyen dynasty. In addition, the roof is well-decorated with colorful broken ceramics and wind bells making the most elegant work of art during Nguyen era.
The main compound
Entering the main compound, you will be facing the Hien Lam Cac. It’s another artwork to honor the devoted Nguyen Emperors and Royal Mandarin which can be read more here.
Followed by Hien Lam Pavillion, you will be walking through one of the two doors including Tuan Liet Mon (on the left) and Sung Cong Mon (on the right).
You will be entering an impressive open space where locates a Nguyen Imperial building style called The To Temple. It is the unification of two houses including the front hall and rear hall connected by a ceiling system. This style is “Trung Thiem Diep Oc” and is very popular in the compound of Hue Imperial City.
The hall system
Moreover, its wooden architecture comprises a “tiền điện” or front hall of 11 compartments and two single wings. The “chính điện” or main hall consists of 9 compartments and double wings on a raised platform made of Thanh stone.
If you step inside, notice a “hậu điện” or rear hall at the back of the building. They connected by the crab-shell shape corridor that is elaborately in red and yellow lacquer.
The roofs especially covered with yellow tiles with a yin-yang shape. The ridges are extremely elaborate with enamel painting and dragons sculptures. These hint the fact that this special building is for Emperors’ usage.
In the garden of The To Mieu temple, the front is a large yard that paved with Bat Trang tiles. A row of porcelain flower pots is well-placed making it a charming scene.
Also, the two unicorns on the two sides in the compound are special bronze work during Nguyen Era. They represent the sacred spirits in the Universe to protect The To Mieu.
The fact that they are in
At the end of the courtyard is the famous “Cuu Dinh”. Many people address them as The dynasty urns. Purposely, they placed in line with nine Emperor’s altars in the main temple.
Inside of The To Mieu
The To Mieu is a special place in Hue Imperial City where you can see who the hosts of Hue used to be. With a requirement of covering your shoulders and knees before entering, this is sign to show respect to our Emperors.
Here, you’ll see real images of only 10 Nguyen Emperors.
Originally, according to the law of the Nguyen lineage, The To Mieu was to worship the emperors who died while they were still an emperor.
Therefore, before 1958s, only seven Emperors’ altars were in here :
1. The To Cao Hoang De or Emperor Gia Long’s altar and two empresses Thua Thien and Thuan Thien.
2. The altar of Thanh To Nhan Hoang De or Emperor Minh Mang and the empress
3. Hien To Chuong Hoang De or Emperor Thieu Tri’s altar and the Empress
4. The altar of Duc Tong Anh Hoang De or Emperor Tu Duc and the empress
5. Gian Tong Nghi Hoang De or Emperor Kien Phuc’s altar
6. The Canh Tong Thuan Hoang De’s ancestral tablet or Emperor Dong Khanh and the Empress
7. The ancestral tablet of Hoang Tong Tuyen Hoang De or Emperor Khai Dinh and Empress
The altars of emperor Duc Duc, Hiep Hoa and Bao Dai were not still present in the The To Mieu due to the fact that they voluntarily resigned from the throne.
Last but not at least, the shrines in the The To temple are arranged according to the principle of “tả chiêu hữu mục” or “ left takes precedence over right”. This rule is well-applied in many aspect of Vietnam society under Nguyen Dynasty. Surprisingly, we still have this traditional rule nowadays in local household.
What else to visit at The To Mieu
If you enter The To Mieu from the North side, you will be walking by Tho Cong temple, Canh Y Palace and Hung To Mieu.
Tho Cong temple is used for worshiping the “thổ công” or the landlord while Canh Y palace is used for cooking the offering for worship purpose. They are all square-shaped buildings that are symmetric in the east-west direction of The To Mieu.
The temple also has an old pine tree on one side of it. Its gorgeous spiral shape with history since the establishment of the temple make it a noteworthy spotlight to many travelers.
Out of the five most important temples to visit in The Imperial city, The To Temple is not only the most beautiful but also the most intact area of the Nguyen Dynasty. With an outstanding architecture value and soulful history, it’s a must-do place to visit during your walking tour in Hue Imperial City.
You can visit this temple to learn more of Vietnam history either by a self exploration or join a walking tour with a Hue Expert Guide. In case you want to have a compelling explanation of Nguyen Emperors’ life stories and contribution to Vietnam, book the Hue Walk of Imperial City by Bee Bee Travel here. Tour runs daily at 08:30 and 14:00 with a fun and charming expert guide from Hue. Your time in the Hue Imperial City will be definitely worthwhile.