50 kilometers (30 miles) northwest from Beijing lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. The site was chosen by the third Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle (1402–1424), who moved the capital of China from Nanjing to the present location of Beijing. He is credited with envisioning the layout of the ancient city of Beijing as well as a number of landmarks and monuments located therein. After the construction of the Imperial Palace (the Forbidden City) in 1420, the Yongle Emperor selected his burial site and created his own mausoleum. Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public.
I visited the main tomb of Changling as part of a tour which also included the Great Wall of China at Badaling for RMB130 that my hotel (a Home Inn - see my accommodation tips) had at their reception. This also included lunch, transport, a visit to a duck factory shop and a jade factory shop and a tour guide (although it was in Chinese with other Chinese tourists). More of the Ming Tomb at Changling can be found on my Changling page below:
Open: 8.30am-5.30pm. Admission: RMB45.
The Stele Pavilion is at the Ming Tombs and sits not too far from the Great Palace Gate. The structure has a double-eaved roof and on the back of the stele there is carved poetry which was written by Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty. He wrote this when he visited the Ming Tombs.
The construction of the tombs started back in 1409 and ended with the autumn of the Ming Dynasty in 1644. Over a period of some 200 years, tombs were built throughout an area of 40 sqkms, which is surrounded by walls. Each tomb is located at the foot of a separate hill and is connected with the other tombs by a road called the Sacred Way.
There is a stone archway which sits at the southern end of the Sacred Way. This 14 metre high arch was constructed in 1540. It is decorated with designs of waves, clouds, and divine animals.
Location : (50 kms/31 miles northwest of Beijing) .
Along the Sacred Way there are Stone Military Offices, these include four each of three different types : civil, military and meritorious officials, symbolising those who assist the emperor in the administration of the state, plus four each of six types of animals: lion, griffin, camel, elephant, unicorn and horse.
Location: Ming Tombs, Sacred Way.
The Ming Tombs are located 50 km northwest of Beijing in amongst a cluster of hills fronted by a small plain. Here is where 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) were buried, and the area is known as the Ming Tombs.
This is the resting place of 13 of the 16 Ming emperors. The tombs tend to be a disappointment but the government is enhancing the area with a museum, helicopter rides over the tombs and the Great Wall amongst other things. Tour operators generally offer combination excursions to the tombs and the Great Wall.
Bus-loads of tourists visit the Ming tombs, but usually they only stay at the Ding Ling tomb to see the chamber. Ding Ling certainly is worth seeing, but equally interesting is the Sacred Way a few kilometers from Ding Ling. It is the ancient way to the Ming tombs, lined with marble statues of animals and officials. When we were there (during the week), we were the only ones, we had the whole Sacred Way just for us.
It was the holly way used by the emperors to go to the temples to venerate the gods.
The "ten thousands years lord" was allowed to use the way.
See on the travelogue the marvellous things of this place.
The Ming Tombs are scattered over an area of 40 square kilometres, and are 50 kilometres northwest of Beijing in Changping country. They are the tombs of the thirteen emperors of the Ming Dynasty. They were built over a period of about 200 years from 1409 when Changling Tomb was started until about 1644 when Siling Tomb was completed. The underground parts of Ding Ling are the only one, which has been excavated so far and is open to the public. This is the tomb of the 13th Ming emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses. The tomb is 27 metres underground and is made up of five rooms and there are unearthed funeral objects on display. The Ming Tombs are open every day but I found that the whole thing had a bit of a circus feel to it with places where you could have your photo taken is costume of the Ming Dynasty, piped music everywhere and lots of souvenir stalls. The Royal road and the open tomb are interesting though.
The Sacred Way is inside the gate of the Ming Tombs. The path is lined with 18 pairs of stone human figures and animals.
On the road to The Great Wall, the street is lined with about a dozen stone statues. Picture taken in 1986.