This is a historical site known for the old Royal show of combat fighting. It is around 3km from Hue city centre. Known as the Tiger Arena in English, this was a place where elephants and tigers would fight to the death. This was a pastime for the Royal Courts of Hue to watch and get involved in the spectatorship of the event.
Although it sounds cruel in today’s context, tigers and elephants weren’t seen in the same light. Elephants were the Royals choice of war animal. They were big, macho and could transport goods easily. However, tigers were seen as an enemy of the people. Tigers did what they wanted and often raided villages for food back in those days. The villagers hated tigers, as they often lost livestock and sometimes its inhabitants. To show care and diligence, the Imperial Rulers captured wild tigers and put on shows to allow a standoff between a tiger and an elephant. This was the Gladiatorial Rome of the animal kingdom.
This was a cruel affair for the tigers. They were the enemy and the elephants were revered. The tigers were often declawed and chained up, to restrict their movements. Their teeth were filed down to stop them having any serious impact during the games. Think about Roman Emperor Commodus and his glorious battles with gladiators who had weakened bodies and blunt blades. The Tigers fought bravely but were never a match for Royal Elephants, who trampled them to death.
The Tiger Arena is located at 373 Bui Thi Xuan, Phuong Duc, Thanh Pho Hue on the southern bank of the Perfume River. The viewing areas are limited. Admission is free.