The unique architecture of Khai Dinh’s Tomb

The Tomb of Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam is considered the most majestic imperial tomb with the unique architecture in the country. Designed as a monument and mausoleum, the tomb took 11 years to build, from 1920 to 1931, and is the last Imperial tomb of the Nguyen dynasty.

The tomb of Khai Dinh’s location was decided by that Emperor to be at the foot of the mountain Chau Chu, 9 kilometers south of the city of Hue. Compared with the rest of imperial tombs, this tomb is small in size, it is only  more than 5600 square meters, yet its construction, decoration and details are very elaborate.

The tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is a rectangle 117 meters long, 48.5 meters wide. Khai Dinh’s tomb is built mostly of reinforced concrete and it’s the imperial tomb of Hue which has the most influences from the West.

The tomb is divided into 2 parts: the palace Thien Dinh, where we can see the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, and the outside of the tomb, where the statues of court ceremonies, housed of the mandarins and the flag of the stele, hexagonal, is the highlight.

After climbing the stairs, we find a small courtyard with houses of mandarins on both sides. To access the next part of the Imperial Tomb, we have to climb another 29 steps more, this is one of the most beautiful spots of the visit, the ceremonial courtyard with stone statues (the material we see very little in this tomb ) with 2 rows of statues.

In the same place of the grave, in the courtyard of ceremonies, we see pavilion with a stone stele engraved on the life and reign of the emperor. This monument is unique as it is the only pavilion with hexagonal shape.

The last part of Khai Dinh complex, high in the Imperial Tomb, Thien Dinh is the palace where we can see the tomb of the emperor. In the main hall there is a statue of Emperor Khai Dinh sitting on his throne and at his feet is his sarcophagus. The decor is stained glass and mosaics made of broken pottery pieces.

In the next room, there is a statue of Emperor Khai Dinh, with real scale, made of bronze.

An interesting fact: the sun setting is right behind the statue of the emperor, symbolized the emperor’s death.

The Imperial Khai Dinh tomb is unique with respect to other imperial tombs in Hue for their influences and mixtures of architectural styles, eg the Indian Influence is found on the upper door trim, towers and obelisks and the Romanesque influence is in hexagonal stele pavilion.

Khai Dinh imperial tomb is so elaborate that Khai Dinh had to send people to go to  France to buy steel, iron, cement and tiles. The emperor also sent ships to China and Japan for ceramic and stained glass necessary to the grave.

The cost of building the Imperial Tomb Khai Dinh was so high that the emperor raised taxes to Vietnamese people by 30%.

The royal tomb of Khai Dinh with its history and unique architecture has become a very famous tourist site whenever you have city tour in Hue.