Tomb of Gia Long Emperor (Thien Tho Mausoleum)
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Gia Long Tomb or Thien Tho Mausoleum (天授陵), is the tomb of Emperor Gia Long (1762-1820), the founding king of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Address: Huong Tho, Huong Tra, Thua Thien Hue province
Status: Recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site in 1993
Price: 150.000 VND/adult - Children: Free

Located about 20km west of Hue Citadel, Tomb of Gia Long Emperor is a relic of the Complex of Hue Monuments recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage on December 11, 1993. Gia Long Tomb or Thien Tho Mausoleum (天授陵), is the tomb of Emperor Gia Long (1762-1820), the founding king of the Nguyen Dynasty.

Gia Long Emperor, whose taboo name is Nguyen Phuc Anh, is the founder of the Nguyen Dynasty - the last dynasty in Vietnam's feudal history. He ascended to the throne in 1802, using the era name "Gia Long" and ruled the country until his death in 1820. Also under Emperor Gia Long, the national title of Vietnam was first officially used in 1804.

Tomb of Gia Long Emperor is actually a complex of many mausoleums in the royal family, now located in Huong Tho commune, Huong Tra town, Thua Thien Hue province. The complex of Gia Long's tomb is said to have the most beautiful feng shui position among the tombs of the Nguyen Dynasty.


The process of building the mausoleum took place in 6 years (1814-1820), starting from the time when Empress Thua Thien Cao (the main consort of King Gia Long) died on February 21, 1814. The king sent the mandarins in Kham Thien Giam to choose the land to bury his wife. The old history said that Geography teacher Le Duy Thanh (son of scientist Le Quy Don) was the one who found this location, where, according to him, "all the good influences emanating from many mountains and hills gathered around" , where "the good influence will last for ten thousand years" (according to L. Cadière).

The history of construction of Gia Long's Tomb is very complicated, because here is not only Gia Long's Tomb, but also a complex of mausoleums of many members of the king's family. That mausoleum complex is scattered over a large area of ​​Dinh Mon village. All were built at different times, nearly two centuries apart (the 17th - 19th centuries).


The entire mausoleum area is a group of mountains with 42 large and small hills, each with its own name, of which Dai Thien Tho is the largest mountain chosen as the mausoleum's front and is used to name the whole group of mountains: Thien Tho Son. All are planned in a protected area over 28 km2, forming a majestic landscape running from the foot of the Truong Son range to the bank of Ta Trach - a confluence of Huong Giang. Emperor Gia Long personally surveyed, approved the location, planning and directed the design work as well as monitoring the construction progress.

Gia Long Tomb is monumental, but as simple as the life of a martial general. The architectural density is relatively sparse. The constructions are spread out horizontally. It is vast and spacious, but here there is neither pavilion nor citadel. The surrounding mountains and hills spread out like a natural surrounding wall, creating a superficial scale for the mausoleum. The simplest is the burial area of ​​the Emperor and Empress’s body. Two stone tombs with the same size and shape lie parallel, only a hand apart. Two roofs above flowing down that time has dyed coal black. Not a single carving, gilded paint, all just flat, bare stone slabs, creating an atmosphere of silence and majesty in the middle of this place. The two tombs are located next to each other, showing the loyal and beautiful feelings between the king and queen who have been born and died together during their wartime life. That is the unique point of Gia Long Tomb that cannot be found in any other Nguyen tombs.

There is a remarkable feature that all dragons in the courtyards and steps of Emperor Gia Long's Tomb are covered with brick and lime, not carved with stone as in other mausoleums later.


The emperor's mausoleum is located on a large flat hill. In the front is Dai Thien Tho mount, in the back are 7 mountains as the . To the left and right, there are 14 mountains on each side, namely "Ta Thanh Long" and "Huu Bach Ho".

The entire tomb is divided into three areas:

At the middle of the tomb locates the tomb of Emperor Minh Mang and Empress Thua Thien Cao. Passing the courtyard with rows of majestic stone statues and 7 levels of sacrifice is Buu Thanh at the top of the hill. Inside Buu Thanh, there are two stone tombs, in the form of a stone chamber, which are double buried according to the concept of "Can Khon, a union of virtues" - a beautiful image of happiness and fidelity.

To the right of the mausoleum is the place of worship with Minh Thanh Court as the center. Minh Thanh Court is used to worship the first Emperor and Empress. Minh Thanh means "brilliant perfection". There is also another explanation that is "completed tomorrow", because it is said that: "The ribs of this palace have not been painted and gilded and the carvings are simple" (according to L. Cadière). Inside Minh Thanh Court, in the past, there were many memorabilia associated with the war life of Emperor Gia Long such as belts, hats, and saddles.

To the left of the mausoleum is Bi Dinh, now there is only a large stele inscribed with the epitaph "Holy Duc Than Cong" of Emperor Minh Mang praising his father, carved delicately and sharply.

Following the paths along the grass and forest flowers, under the cool pine shade to visit the neighboring mausoleums. The most remarkable is Thien Tho Huu mausoleum of Emperess Thuan Thien Cao, located in a quiet but profound position. Gia Thanh Court is also an architectural work built according to the model of Minh Thanh Court, used to worship the woman who gave birth to the most talented king of the Nguyen Dynasty - Emperor Minh Mang.

Artistic Value:

Gia Long Tomb is an excellent picture of the coordination between nature and architecture, in which nature is the main factor creating the grandeur of the landscape. The architectural works of citadels and palaces of Gia Long period show the nature of a king who is talented in war and country organization. This is the model of the first mausoleum in Hue, for later kings to refer to and imitate to build their own mausoleum. Gia Long Tomb contributes to expressing the style of a king who enlightened the dynasty.

Route Guide:

To visit Gia Long Tomb, visitors can take a boat along the Perfume River about 18km and then dock at the mausoleum; Or go by road about 16km and then go through Kim Ngoc wharf, go a few more kilometers through the forest, you will see two majestic pillars lying outside. In the past, there were columns signaling, reminding people to be respectful when passing through this area, and there are 85 such columns in the complex of Gia Long's tomb.

Experience Guide:

According to the suggestion of L. Cadière more than 60 years ago, tourists should visit Gia Long mausoleum in the afternoon. It was the time to be able to watch the sunset coming from the other side of the lakes. Glittering in the golden sun are the rustling pine shadows, reflecting on the rippled lake surface. Only then, visitors can fully feel the majestic beauty and magnificence of this mausoleum. The beautiful landscape blends with the majesty of the distant mountains. The quiet austerity of death blends with the vividness and beauty of the surrounding nature. The first king of the Nguyen Dynasty rested in the wonderful stillness of the universe.

Visiting the mausoleum, visitors are allowed to relax in a quiet but poetic space to reflect on the successes and failures of their life as well as the honor and disgrace of the first king of the Nguyen Dynasty.