Hue's largest imperial tomb set for makeover

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A temple in Emperor Tu Duc's Tomb complex. Photo: Bui Ngoc Long

Authorities in the central province of Thua Thien-Hue have approved a US$4.92-million project to renovate Emperor Tu Duc’s Tomb. 
The five-year project will aim to renovate the temples, tombs and lakes in the tomb complex, according to the government website chinhphu.vn. 
Funding for the project will come from the state budget and other "legal sources," according to the local government. 
The 19th century tomb of Emperor Tu Duc is situated in a narrow valley in Thuong Ba Village, Thuy Xuan Commune. It is one of the many historic spots that made the town of Hue and its citadel, palaces and tombs a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1993. 
Emperor Tu Duc reigned from 1848 to 1883 and had hundreds of wives, but no children.
Scientists now believe that a case of small pox left had rendered him sterile. 
It took three years (1864-1867) to build his tomb, which is divided into a Temple Area and a Tomb Area, including a few small lakes. 
Construction of the tomb demanded so much labor and extra taxation that the workers rebelled against in 1866. 
Many died during the construction and rebellion, which was eventually put down.
Tu Duc later apologized for the pain his project caused and decreed that all 50 structures' names feature the word Khiem (moderate or modest) as a reminder. 
Although the monument is spectacular, it did not become Tu Duc’s final resting place, which remains unknown.
Several hundred workers who built Emperor Tu Duc’s real tomb were killed to prevent them from disclosing its whereabouts. 
Since 1945, the tomb has been renovated several times, but several main features of the campus have fallen into disrepair.

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