Hué – the imperial tour

If you cannot have sunshine for breakfast the next best thing is a good noodle soup that can substantially brighten your day:

As I hinted yesterday, Hué is famous mainly for the fact that it was the capital of the Nguyen dynasty – the last clan to rule Vietnam. From 1802 till 1945, when the last emperor handed his power over to Ho Chi Minh. So, Hué is not a very old imperial city. Nor has there been much left of its grandeur. The Americans and their South Vietnamese cronies looked to that by laying Hué in ashes.

But the Nguyens had powerful egos that turned Hué into something special. It started with calling themselves “emperors”, while in all reality they were mere kings. And the imperial town and it’s forbidden part was a copy of the Chinese palace in Beijing. Like all the rituals of the Nguyen courts were a copy of the Chinese “Son of Heaven’s” life style.

One thing I find absolutely unique for this part of Asia, though, is that some of the emperors went to find an idyllic place West of Hué where they ordered their tomb groups to be built – during their lifetimes still. OK, that was inspired by the Chinese Ming dynasty – but not just copied. These were huge areas, surrounded by walls and containing different groups of temples and worship places (all arranged according to strict concepts) – like a small town for a dead emperor. As I always had a weakness for megalomaniacs I like these tomb groups very much. They reflect the personality of the guy – or at least how he had wanted himself be seen by the public.

Due to limited time I visited only 3 such groups. First the one of Minh Mang, the second ruler of the Nguyens. Here are some impressions:

And here some pictures of the tombs of Tu Duc, number 4 in the line. He was a romantic one – and had no children despite 107 wives. The poor lad had to write the inscription on his tomb with all his good deeds himself – this was usually done by the emperor’s successor.

I will skip pictures of the Khai Dinh tombs.

…and here me at the entrance to the imperial town in the centre of Hué – just about when the battery of my camera let me down.

…anyway – far too many monuments.

Today I will move to Da Nang…

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