Emperor Minh Mang is born as Nguyen Phuc Dam and also known as Nguyen Phuc Kieu. Minh Mang was the second emperor of the Nguyen dynasty of Vietnam. He succeeded his father Emperor Gia Long. The emperor was not the crowned prince but when the Crown Prince Canh died in 1801 because of chicken pox, which then considered as terminal illness, Minh Mang succeeded the throne instead. He was well known for his opposition to American and European involvements in Vietnam. He strongly shunned French envoys and traders during his reign. He also did not allow missionaries during his time.
This caused some of the revolts within his reign, though most of the people in Hue specifically like the emperor for standing up against the influence of the foreigners and continued isolation and concentrated in improving the country’s infrastructures and agriculture. Minh Mang ruled from 1820 until his death in early day of 1841.
(Minh Mang Tomb – Hue travel guide)
The Minh Mang tomb is one of the grandest and majestic tombs of the Nguyen Emperors. It is located An Bang village in Cam Ke Mountain which is 12 km from Hue city center. This 18 hectares tomb was planned years prior to the death of the king. It took the longest time to prepare and locate the perfect location for the emperor’s wish. Emperor Minh Mang ordered the start of construction in September 1840, before becoming sick and eventually dying.
His son and successor to the throne, Emperor Thieu Tri, continued the task according his father’s plans. Emperor Minh Mang’s corpse was buried in August of 1841. The tomb was not complete yet during that time and was only fully completed in 1843.
Minh Mang tomb is a standard architectural complex consisting of 40 constructions of palaces, temples and pavilions etc., designed on a symmetric axis from Dai Hong gate to the foot of La Thanh (Surrounding Wall) behind the Emperor’s tomb.
(Dai Hong gate – Hue travel guide)
Dai Hong Mon is the main gate to the Minh Mang tomb. It was built of limestone with 9×12 meters height and width. This gate was only opened once, when the corpse of Minh Mang was transferred to the tomb. It was not opened ever since. All the visitors are using the Ta Hong Mon (Left Gate) and Huu Hong Mon (Right Gate).
The Honor Courtyard is just behind the Main Gate. It has two rows of mandarins, elephants and horses’ statues. At the other side of the Hong Mon hill is the Steele Pavilion where “Thanh Duc Thanh Cong” is inscribed with the Emperor’s biography and merits written by his son.
The Salutation Court leads to Sung An Temple where people can worship the Emperor and Ta Thien Nhan Queen.
There are 3 stone bridges on the other side of this temple heading to the Minh Lau Pavilion on Tam Tai Mount. It was designed for the king to think about life and write poems but also is considered as a resting place of souls of the dead emperors. On both sides of Minh Lau, two obelisks stand on two hills, namely Binh and Thanh Mountain. In the back of Minh Lau are two flower gardens designed as the character “Longevity”.