The broad, peaceful outer courtyard sweeps you past an honorary guard of immaculate stone mandarins towards the first of a series of elegantly roofed gateways, through whose triple doorways you get a perfectly framed view of Emperor Minh Mang’s mausoleum complex. Archways look wistful in peeling ochre paint; slatted lacquer-red shutters offer tantalizing angles on lotus ponds, pavilions and artfully placed bonsai trees; and ceramic rooftop dragons add a touch of kitsch in pastel pinks, greens and yellows. Look carefully and you’ll see the Chinese character for “longevity” picked out in blue, red and gold – Minh Mang, who designed his own mausoleum, left nothing to chance.

The Minh Mang mausoleums are part of Hué’s imperial city, which is open daily 7am–5pm.


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