Ming Tombs

Ming Tombs is where 13 emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and their empresses and concubines were buried. Located 50 kilometers northwest of Beijing, the Ming Tombs built from 1409 A.D. -1644 A.D is where 13 emperors of the Ming (1368-1644) and their empresses and concubines were buried.

Thirteen tombs spread over 40 kilometers in circumference. A 7-kilometer-long sacred way flanked by 18 pairs of giant stone statues leads to the Changling - the tomb of Emperor Yongle, the most powerful emperor in the Ming dynasty. The up-turn-cornered marble Stone Arch with beautiful bas-relief carvings of lions, dragons and flowers - the first on your way to the tomb was erected in 1540. The Great Palace Gate built in 1426 marks the beginning of the Sacred Way to Changling. The Great Palace Gate used to have three passageways and the central one was used by the deceased emperor only while the living emperor used the side ones. Officials and civilians had to dismount before the gate. About 460 meters from the gate stands the vermilion Stele Pavilion with an exquisitely engraved 7-meter-high stone column called as huabiao - similar to the one on the Tian'anmen Square. Inscriptions from Qing Emperor Qianlong's Reign on the back recorded the reconstruction of the tombs. Next along the path are bizarre, mythical stone monsters standing guard. At the end of road stands Changling and on half the way a sideway to the left leads to Dingling a prior for visitors - the tomb of Emperor Wanli. To get to the tomb itself, you have to walk down many flights of stairs till you are deep inside the mountain. It is kind of creepy and cool to go down and down.

The tomb tunnel of Dingling,  Ming Tombs


Dingling - the tomb of Emperor Wanli (1573 A.D. -1620 A.D.), the 13th Ming emperor, and his two empresses has been excavated and is famous for a magnificent underground palace, which consists of five stones chambers.

The underground palace lies 27 meters below the surface and occupies a floor space of 1,195 square meters. It has five halls: an antechamber, central hall, real hall and left and right annexes. In the central hall are three white marble thrones for the emperor and his two empresses in front of each stands the "everlasting lamp", a blue-and-white porcelain tub containing oil, which was lit after the emperor was buried. Three coffins on a dais are in the rear hall, Emperor's in the center with the empresses' on each side. Among precious treasures buried with emperor, a gold crown and four phoenix crowns are eye-catching.

Entrance to the Dingling - the tomb of Emperor Wanli (1573 A.D. -1620 A.D.), the 13th Ming emperor, and his two empresses, Ming Tombs Visitors to the underground palace have to first see the exhibition hall - Dingling Museum which exhibits buried treasures and articles, before they go down a long zigzag staircase to the palace.


Work of the construction began in 1409 A.D. and ended in 1427 A.D. It is 120,000 square meters with a underground structure including Leng'endian, Leng'enmen, Shengchou and Jufudian ect. Having been restored several times after the Ming's decline, only the wood-structure Leng'endian and Leng'enmen survived.

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