City of Ghosts – the cemetery of An Bang

„City of Ghosts“ – the locals call their graveyard. The area of Vietnam’s ancient capital Hue is famous for it’s royal chinese influenced architecture. In Vietnam, around 80 percent of the population don’t follow a particular religion. They believe in spirits and their ancestors. Tombs in An Bang are built in various styles: Buddhism, Taoism, Catholicism, Vietnamese, Chinese and even Western. Many tombs in An Bang are the copies of Nguyen Kings’ tombs and Hue royal citadel.

As for the cemetery of An Bang around 90 percent of the villagers have overseas relatives (most of them moved out or were moved out of the country during or after the war time), those relatives send money home, much of which is used to build tombs. They build lavish and elaborate tombs for their ancestors but also for family members who are still alive. Typical figures are several thousands of US Dollars. Meanwhile, the homes of the villagers remain humble, but the dead are resting in luxury. In Vietnamese culture death is a very important topic, they invest in afterlife, assuming that what you have in the presence you’ll have in the underworld. It’s incomparable to other majestic graveyards, like the one in New Orleans I visited two years ago. It’s neither a spooky nor a sad place. One can feel death is an important chapter in vietnamese tradition. The graveyards are beautiful colored, structured with stone lions or dragons and built on white sand. Some mausolea are as big as a mansion. Several thousand graves cover the area. It’s quite interesting to have a look from above.

An Bang is not a frequented tourist site. The idea to turn An Bang cemetery into a tourist site was suggested by Vietnamese Culture and Art in Hue city. By now there is just a handful of tour operators bringing people there from Hue.

The photos have been taken mid of September 2016 in An Bang village near Thuan An Beach, about twenty kilometers east of the ancient capital city of Hue

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