Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Central Vietnam Trip Part VII - Royal Tomb of Khai Dinh

The Nguyen Emperor Khai Dinh's Royal Tomb is unique among the royal tombs in Hue, Vietnam. Where other royal tombs are expansive and invite respectful reflection, Khai Dinh built his final resting place to be monumental in style and bombastic in execution.

Construction began in 1920 and concluded in 1931, with the Emperor increasing tax by 30 per cent to fund the lavish mausoleum. Before his death in 1925, the Emperor visited France where he was likely influenced by the architectural styles there, evidenced by the European influences in his Oriental mausoleum. The tomb was completed by Bao Dai, Khai Dinh's successor, in 1931.

Plus, if the local tour guides are to be believed, Khai Dinh's tomb was purposefully designed to be difficult to visit - the tomb was built on the side of a mountain, and its inner sanctum is 127 steps up from street level, a fact that must have grated on the court officials who were required on pain of their lives to pay their respects to the late emperor.

Throughout the interior of the tomb, colored glass and ceramic chips were used to form mosaics of oriental design. The ceilings were hand painted much like the ceilings of western churches, but the designs were of dragons and clouds.

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