At the entrance of the tombs there's a small museum displaying some artifacts collected in the tombs, and description of their conception.
The collection is not very rich, but some pieces are really interesting and construction.
A few kilometers out of the city, this is a burial complex combining many elements and details, according to Feng Shui principles.
The sacred way, described in other tips lead to the burial area, where we visited Dingling, one of the imperial tombs. Well, the tomb was perfect when found, but piled for years, and restricted by the Cultural Revolution, it suffered a lot, however, the remains still justify the half day visit.
A paved path leads to the central hall where there are three white marble thrones. Incense, candles and flowers were set in front of the thrones.
Before each of them, there are glazed 'Five Offerings' and a blue china jar that would have been filled with sesame oil to be used for lamps.
Expecting for great sensations at the end everything is seen as common stuff.
The rear hall is the main and biggest part of the Palace. The coffins of Emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses are in this palace.
There are also some precious items displayed with these coffins, including the gold imperial crown, but pressed to rush by the crowds we could only have a glance of them.
Dingling is under ground and about 27 meters deep. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, the thirteenth emperor who occupied the throne the longest time during the Ming Dynasty, and his two empresses.
The main features are the Stone Bridge, Soul Tower, Baocheng and the Underground Place, which was unearthed between 1956 and 1958. The entire palace is made of stone. The Soul Tower is symbolic of the whole of Dingling and it forms the entrance to the underground chambers.
Among the many Sacred Ways, the one of Ming Tombs is best preserved and most complete. The Sacred Way starts with a huge stone memorial archway lying at the front of the area.
Constructed in 1540, during the Ming Dynasty, this archway is the earliest and biggest stone archway existing in China today
The Sacred Way is marked by one pillar on each side of the road, whose surfaces are carved with the cloud design. The tops are shaped like a rounded cylinder, and lined with figures of animals and warriors.
The Shengong Shengde Stele Pavilion shows inside a 50-ton tortoise.
A white marble pillar is placed at each corner with, in the top, a mythical beast facing either inward or outward.
I read that they "express hope that the emperor will neither cling to the palace nor forget to return to the Palace to handle state affairs".
Ok, I believe it!
One of the most remarkable aspects of the burial sites is the Sacred Way, a long, straight road, that was supposed to be used by the Emperor, in his way back to Heaven.
Common in most Imperial graveyards, the Ming Tomb is the best preserved, standing about 50 Km from Beijing.
After the entrance, the road is lined with statues, all of them with a special meaning. First we pass by a set of 24 animals (lion, camel, elephant, unicorn, qilin and horse – 4 of each).
At the end of the road 12 human figures (generals and nobles) and… it should be the Emperor’s tomb, but there was a break due to posterior construction, and it will take 10 minutes to go around and to cover the distance by bus.
The Ming Tombs are located 50km northwest of Beijing and are the final resting-place for 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors (1368 - 1644). The site of the Ming Tombs was carefully chosen according to Feng Shui principles, and the area of the foot of the JunDu Mountains – with quiet valleys and calm waters – was the perfect place to protect the tombs against bad spirits.
I visited the Ming Tombs at Changling on a guided tour booked through my hotel in Beijing, but the ‘Spirit Way’ was NOT included in the guided tour! Check before you book a day trip from Beijing! Instead our tour guide showed us around at the Changling tombs. The Hall of Eminent Favour with a large statue of Emperor Yongle and an exhibition of artefacts recovered from the tombs, the beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, and a few other sights - but the Ming Tombs at Changling was not one of my favourites. I think the Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven are both much more impressive and interesting!
A couple of stories…
We passed some old wells, and the guide told us a rather creepy story… The Emperor was married to the Empress, but he also had many concubines. When the Emperor died, some of his concubines must follow him into the afterlife! Therefore the 'lucky' ladies were taken to the tomb and hung. The bodies of the concubines were buried in the wells - not exactly the same fabulous tomb as the Emperor's grave!
When you enter the Ming Tombs, it is possible to go through a small gate. If you do so, a myth says that your soul ascend to heaven. You must pass through the same gate again when exiting, this time jumping and yelling : 'I'm back' (in any language)... Otherwise your soul will stay in heaven...
Ming Tombs lie in a broad valley about 50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City. The name itself exactly implies what it is inside. It consists of thirteen emperor mausoleums of the Ming Dynasty from 1368 to 1644. The whole mausoleums group totally covers an area of 40 square kilometers, which had took up to more than 200 years to complete. Although there are many mausoleums in Ming Tombs, only two of them—Changling and Dingling are open to public.
Changling is the first mausoleum on Ming Tombs and also the most magnificent part of the tombs, which covers an area of about 10 hectares with the other 12 tombs built around. It is the mausoleum of Emperor ZhuDi and Empress Xu. Changling is the biggest and most completed preserved tomb in Ming Tombs.
To the northeast part of Changling situated Dingling on the foot of DaYu Hill, where buried the thirteenth emperor of Ming Dynasty WanLi and his two empresses. In 1583, Emperor WanLi took the chance of paying respect to the ancestors, inspected the Mausoleum Area. There he made his final decision to build tomb here and started the project in the following years.
You can spend a whole day visiting the tombs or you can join a tour which also stops by at the tombs. That will be brief and shorter, but less boring.
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 General Sacred Way\ Dingling Underground Palace\ Changling Ling'en Dian which is made of Nanmu
It was so quite when I walking on the Sacred Way, touching those vivid stone statues, imaging how powerful of the Emperors used to be. but now the owners all gone for handreds years, only those stone statues left...
The Underground Palace of Dingling is the only one of the Ming tombs excavated so far. More than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics were unearthed from Dingling. tourist can see some of them in Dingling Museum, i was totally crazy for those real Gold ingot\ Gold crown\ Jade belt\ Jade cup\ Jade bowl...b4 can only see them on TV series.
the last thing is the Ling'en Dian of Changling, it made of Nanmu (a kind of rare hard wood). and its the only remains of the hall-and-gate structures among the Ming Mausoleums, and deseve to be the treasure of ancient Chinese architecture. As i know how rare Nanmu is, and how expensive are they in ancient time, when i saw the big hall full of Nanmu, i even forgot to close my mouth. it is amazing hall!
The Ming Dynasty Tombs (Chinese:pinyin: Ming chao shi san ling; lit. meaning, "Thirteen Tombs of the Ming Dynasty") are located some 50 kilometers due north of urban Beijing at a specially selected site.
The site of the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tombs was carefully chosen according to Feng Shui (geomancy) principles. According to these, bad spirits and evil winds descending from the North must be deflected; therefore, an arc-shaped area at the foot of the Jundu Mountains north of Beijing was selected. This 40 square kilometer area - enclosed by the mountains in a pristine, quiet valley full of dark earth, tranquil water and other necessities as per Feng Shui - would become the necropolis of the Ming Dynasty.
The entire tomb site is surrounded by a wall, and a seven kilometer road named the "Spirit Way" leads into the complex which is one of the finest preserved pieces of 15th century Chinese art and architecture. The front gate of the complex is a large, three-arched gateway, painted red, and called the "Great Red Gate".
At present, three tombs are open to the public: Chang Ling, the largest; Ding Ling, whose underground palace has been excavated; and Zhao Ling. There have been no excavations since 1989, but plans for new archeological research and further opening of tombs have circulated.
Lama Temple (Yonghegong) was originally the home of Qing dynasty Prince Yong before he became the Emperor Yongzheng, which is why you'll see the golden roof tiles of an imperial residence. After his elevation in 1723 he kepts with tradition by making a portion of the grounds into a lamasery for Tbetan monks, and another part became the headquarters for his terror posse and secret intelligence agency.
The temple is invariably filled with equal parts monks, worshippers and tourists. At Spring Festival it teems with the devout praying for luck in the coming year. On the last day of the first lunar month, monks perform "devil Dances" wearing fantastic masks of huge animal heads. The incense burners are authentic cultural treasures - the one in the second courtyard dates to 1746.
Impossible to miss, the 18-metres high Maitreya statue in the last building was made from a single piece of sandalwood given by the Dalai Lama to Emperor Qianlong in 1750. It took three years to ship from Nepal to Beijing, and they had to construct the surrounding ahll around the fnished statue. If Maitreya looks shorter than 18 metres, its because part of the statue is underground, lest it topple over: Beijing's subway system rattles right underneath the temple.