This hillside monument is a synthesis of Vietnamese and European elements. Most of the tomb’s grandiose exterior is covered in blackened concrete, creating an unexpectedly Gothic air, while the interiors resemble an explosion of colourful mosaic. Khai Dinh was the penultimate emperor of Vietnam, from 1916 to 1925, and widely seen as a puppet of the French. The construction of his flamboyant tomb took 11 years. The tomb of Khai Dinh is 10km from Hue in Chau Chu village.
Steps lead to the Honour Courtyard where mandarin honour guards have a mixture of Vietnamese and European features. Up three more flights of stairs is the stupendous main building, Thien Dinh. The walls and ceiling are decorated with murals of the Four Seasons, Eight Precious Objects and Eight Fairies. Under a graceless, gold-speckled concrete canopy is a gilt bronze statue of Khai Dinh, who is presumed to have been homosexual, though he did produce one heir. His remains are interred 18m below the statue.
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