Emperor Tu Duc of Vietnam held the longest reign of any monarch of the Nguyen dynasty, from 1848 to 1883. Over that time, he accumulated a great mass of wealth, yet he had no children to pass it down to (despite having 104 wives and an additional smattering of concubines). Since he had plenty of money at his disposal, he decided to have a large tomb and palace complex built according to his own design well before his death in 1883.
The tomb was built in Hue, Vietnam from 1864 to 1867. The construction required forced labor and extra taxation, causing a coup plot to move against Tu Duc in 1866, but it was discovered and suppressed. The tomb went on to become the most impressive and popular of the royal mausoleums.
Once the complex was complete, Tu Duc and his many wives utilized it as a residence and a scenic retreat. They would go boating on Luu Khiem Lake and Tu Duc hunted small game on the island within the lake. After boating, it was common for Tu Doc and his wives to relax in the nearby pavilion, where he would often compose or recite poetry. There was also an onsite temple for worshipping, which now houses royal artefacts for tourists.
Tu Duc and those close to him worried that when he eventually died, looters would rob his tomb of gold and other valuables. So Tu Duc made arrangements before he passed. When the time came, 200 laborers carried the emperor’s remains and his fortune to a secret location for burial. What the laborers didn’t know was that they would all be beheaded upon their return to protect the secrecy of Tu Duc’s final resting place.
Tourists continue to visit Tu Duc’s tomb to see the beautiful granite structure and learn about its history. Though, many Vietnam travel guides corroborate the tale that the tomb is empty and that Tu Duc’s real tomb, along with his treasure, is still hidden. To this day, Tu Duc’s supposed tomb has yet to be discovered. Which begs the question…where is Tu Duc actually buried and how much treasure lies with him?