The Royal tombs of the Nguyen Emperors are scattered across the scenic countryside of the southern part of Hue and although 13 rulers sat on the imperior throne between 1802 and 1945, only seven were given the honour of their lang (mausoleum) as the others are said to have died during exile or disgace.
The first one we visited pertained to the penultime Nguyen Emperor - Khai Dihn (1916-1925). Built into the Chau Chau hill the tomb rises three levels featuring an imperial audience court with stone statues representing bodyguards, a stele monument and a palace.
Although it is not considered successful in architectural terms because of the combination of European and Vietnamese architectural styles I thought it was quite impressive precisely because of that.
Close ot the top stands the palace whith an intricately designed glass and porcelain decoratated interior (which strongly reminded me of Gaudi's). The ceiling is decorated with nine intricate dragons amidst fleeting clouds and the rear room is home to a temple containing his grave and his statue said to have been cast in Marseilles.
During the visit we were approached by a nine year old girl who happens to be studying French and wanted therefore to show us what she had already learned. Close to her a proud grandmother and her parents holding another child. I may not be the right person to judge her French skills but I felt she had quite a good accent.
(To be continued)