Hue was the political capital of Vietnam from 1802-1945 under the Nguyen dynasty. In contrast to our usual style of D.I.Y. Touring, we decided to let the locals take the reins as we joined a guided tour through the city. We visited the old citadel and forbidden city, the tombs of two previous emperors and a pagoda. I was particularly excited to see the tombs of the emperors.
Not really knowing what to expect I was hoping we were going to walk up to a vault and then be told that the dead emperor was inside. Not the case. The bodies are hidden within the tomb complex, so no one really knows exactly where the bodies are. This is to deter raiders who would locate the emperor and steal all the jewels and possessions of value.
The first tomb we visited was Minh Mang Tomb. This emperor had 500 wives, some of which he had never met! According to our guide he had nearly 100 sons, no one counted his daughters (among Google search results, no sources show a consensus to the actual number, daughters have also been counted). To get to the actual burial place, which is a walled hill, you have to walk through many gates and prayer halls (in total 638 steps). It was much like visiting a large temple complex. Each gate we walked through we unknowingly thought we were at the tomb, until of course we got to the end to a locked gate and huge 3metre wall.
Tomb number two was much nicer. It was the tomb of Tu Duc, who was a poet and liked to sit down near the river and in his gardens writing poetry. He had 104 wives and no children of his own. He had to adopt some of his brother’s sons to ensure a heir to the throne. Eventually he died of small pox. His tomb was set amongst his own gardens and was really peaceful. It was quite a large area set out for his burial place and there were many paths leading to different temples, halls and gardens. It was like a large park. Not exactly what I was expecting for tomb visiting but it was an interesting experience.