50 kilometers northwest from
Beijing City 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. Because of its long
history, palatial and integrated architecture,
the site has a high cultural and historic value.
The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums
are very similar but vary in size as well as in
the complexity of their structures.
It was originally built only
as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhuli and his
empresses. This is the most magnificent of the
tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their
tombs built around Changling.
Only the Changling and Dingling
tombs are open to the public. Changling, the chief
of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and
is completely preserved. The total internal area
of the main building is 1956 square meters. There
are 32 huge posts, and the largest measures about
14 meters in height. It represents Emperor Zhuyuanzhang,
the founder of Ming Dynasty. Travel China Guide
recommends the Lingsi Palace in its second yard
as really deserving a visit. This is unique as
it is the only huge palace made of camphor wood.
It covers about 1956 square meters. The ceiling
is colorfully painted and supported by sixteen
solid camphor posts. The floor was decorated with
Unlike Changling, 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 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. The yellow glazed tiles; eaves, archway,
rafters and columns are all sculptured from stone,
and colorfully painted. The entire construction
is stable and beautiful!
Served by three stone doors, it is divided into
three Halls consisting of five high palaces -
the front, the middle, the rear, the left and
the right palaces. The Gate of the Tomb, the Gate
of Eminent Favor and the Lingxing Gate all have
the same structural form.
The front hall, considered the
square of the Palace, has no building within it.
No special artifacts remain in either the left
and right palaces that are about 7 meters high,
six meters wide, and 26 meters long. However,
each has a centrally placed white marble coffin
bed, the surface of which is covered with gold
bricks. On each bed there is a square hole filled
with loess. This is the so-called "Gold Well".
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. 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; among them
is the gold imperial crown, one of the world's
most rare treasures.
We feel that it is necessary
to remind visitors with heart problems to consider
carefully whether they should enter the underground
chambers. The atmosphere and dull lighting can
be a problem. As always, do not hesitate to consult
your guide, who will be able to offer advice.
Beijing Travel Attractions