The Ming Tombs (Shisanling) Beijing

The Ming tombs BeijingThe Ming tombs Beijing lie in a broad valley to the south of Tianshou Mountain (Longevity of Heaven) in Changping District, about 44 km northwest of Beijing proper. To the southwest of this valley, a branch of the Yanshan Range suddenly breaks off and forms a natural gateway to the 40-square-km basin in which the bombs were built. Thirteen out of the 16 Ming emperors as well as 23 empresses, 1 highest-ranking concubine and a dozen immolated imperial concubines were buried in this peaceful valley.

The Ming tombs History
It was widely held in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) that although dead physically, a person's soul remained, still having human needs. Consequently, the 13 emperors' tome complexes look like imperial palaces.

Under the guidance of traditional Chinese Fengshui (geomancy), the whole process from site selection to designing of the tombs paid attention to harmony between tomb architecture and the surrounding mountains, rivers and vegetation to embody the philosophical view that man is an integral part of nature.

Of the 13 tombs, Dingling, the tomb of Emperor Wanli (reigned 1537-1619), was under archaeological excavation in 1956, and all other tomb architecture has remained intact. The Sacred Way (Shendao) in front of each tomb as well as other main architectures including the marble memorial archway, the Great Red Gate (Dahongmen), a tall square stele pavilion, Avenue of the Animals, and Dragon and Phoenix Gate (Longfengmen) are still in perfect condition. Lots of pines and cypress planted in the Ming Dynasty inside and outside the tomb complexes and flanking the Sacred Way are still growing well. The tombs for imperial concubines and eunuchs inside the mausoleum area were reclaimed as farmland during the later years of the Qing Dynasty, but the underground coffin chambers have remained intact.The Ming tombs Beijing

Though varying in size and architectural complexity, these tombs are similar in general layout: the plan takes an oblong shape with a round (or oval) Precious Hall (Baocheng) at the rear. Each tomb complex starts with a stone bridge, followed by a front gate, a stele pavilion, the Gate of Eminent Favor, the Hall of Eminent Favor, a watchtower and then the Precious Hall. The layout of these Ming Tombs produced a far-reaching impact on the construction of the Dong Tombs and Xi Tombs of the Qing Dynasty.

The Ming tombs were put under protection of the Beijing municipal government in 1957.

In July 2003, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at its 27th session officially inscribed the Xiaoling Tomb in Nanjing and Ming Tombs (Shisanling) in Beijing on the World Heritage List as assemblage of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

The Ming tombs Guide
Visitors first pass by an elegant, five-arched white marble memorial archway. Built in 1540, this 29-meter-wide and 14-meter-high structure, with its delicate bas-relief carvings of lions, dragons and lotuses, is still in near-perfect condition. About one kilometer to the northeast of this archway stands the Great Red Gate (Dahongmen), the outermost gate of the entire mortuary complex.

The Ming tombs BeijingThe Great Red Gate marks the beginning of the 7-kilometer-long Sacred Way (Shendao), which leads to the entrance of the Changling, the tomb of Emperor Yongle (reigned 1403-1424). Continuing on, one comes to a tall square stela pavilion, with four tall white stone ornamental columns (huabiao) set at each of its four corners, standing boldly in the center of the Sacred Way. The pavilion houses a huge stone tortoise by the famous Avenue of the Animals, where pairs of lions, elephants, camels. Horses and a number of mythological beasts line the road. There are 24 stone creatures in all. These beasts are followed in turn by a group of 12 stone human figures, which represent the funeral cortege of the deceased emperors. Carved in 1540, this group is made up of military, civil and meritorious officials. Immediately beyond these human figures are the Dragon and Phoenix Gate (Longfengmen), which are pierced with three archways.

Continuing north to the Changling, the Sacred Way passes over a river via two bridges of five and seven arches respectively. From here, all 13 tombs can be seen; the foothills and groves of trees dotted with golden yellow roofs stretch for 19 kilometers across this sacred valley.

Compared to the other 12 tombs the Changling is the largest and best preserved. Built on a south-facing slope, the Changling‘ s three courtyards are entirely surrounded by walls. The first courtyard extends from the massive three-arched entrance gate to the Gate of Eminent Favor (Long‘ enmen); on the east of this courtyard stands a pavilion, which contains a stone tablet, a stone camel and a stone dragon. Inside the second courtyard stands the Hall of Eminent Favor. The central portion of the stairway, which leads up to this great hall is carved with designs of sea beats and dragons. To the east and west of the hall stand two ritual stoves where bolts of silk and inscribed scrolls were set aflame as offerings to the emperor‘s ancestors. The dimensions of the Hall of Eminent Favor (67 x 29 meters) closely match the dimensions of the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) in the Forbidden City, which makes it one of the largest wooden buildings in China. Four giant wooden columns and 28 smaller pillars support this structure, The four large columns are 14.3 meters high and 1.17 meters in diameter, and are extraordinary for the fact that they are each a single trunk of Phoebe nanmu.

  • Ming Tomb Beijing
  • Ming Tomb Beijing
  • Ming Tomb Beijing
  • Ming Tomb Beijing
  • Ming Tomb Beijing
  • Ming Tomb Beijing