Fit for an Emperor

On May 28, 2012, in Historical Relics, Must-sees, Tombs, by Jack Li

Feeling like one of the hottest days this year, a couple of friends and I ventured out to the Ming Tombs (the Tombs) from the location of our Beijing hotels. Our mode of transport was the bus from the Deshengmen Station, (next to the Arrow Tower) and accessible to Jishuitan subway station, Line 2, Exit […]

Feeling like one of the hottest days this year, a couple of friends and I ventured out to the Ming Tombs (the Tombs) from the location of our Beijing hotels. Our mode of transport was the bus from the Deshengmen Station, (next to the Arrow Tower) and accessible to Jishuitan subway station, Line 2, Exit A. Funnily enough, as I have noticed on a couple of occasions, it always surprises me to see how well-prepared locals businesspeople are with the change in weather patterns – on this occasion, wide-brimmed hats were stockpiled and selling fast. To our joy, we discovered that the buses accepted subway cards with and each journey only costing 3RMB (which is considerably cheaper than paying by cash). Approximately one hour’s drive (51 kilometres) north from Beijing the Tombs make for an excellent China travel day trip.

So, what is the justification in visiting the Tombs? Well, firstly, the Tombs are situated in a scenic location straddling the southern slope Tianshou Mountain. Furthermore, the position of the Tombs is no accident, as it follows in accordance with the principles of feng shui to deflect evil. Secondly, the Tombs bare immense historical significance as the place of rest for thirteen Ming Dynasty emperors. Due to the prominence of the Tombs, in 2003, they were subsequently listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. There is, of course, exhibition halls at the tombs which display some very intriguing sights such as an imposing figure of a seated Emperor Yongle and items such as imperial robes.

Depending on your schedule, it is quite easy to spend a whole day at the tombs by either spend a whole day walking from one site to another. Talking in the 7 kilometre ‘Spirit Walk’ is certainly one way in which to appreciate the reverence of the site. Indeed, here visitors will be able to gaze in wonder at statutes of familiar animals such as camels, elephants, rams and mythical creatures like that of the fearsome ‘bixie’ and ‘qilin’. Needless to say, the Tombs dispersed at the base of the mountain, so using the bus is a viable option from, for instance, the Changling Tomb to that of Dingling. As the name ‘tomb’ suggests, it would be assumed that you can enter underground – this is true for the Dingling Tomb at least. Nevertheless, be prepared to walk up to the top of the tomb and then walk down a considerable amount of stairs into the tomb. Once in the tomb is evident how revered the place is with many tourists donating money.

Compared to other top attractions, like the Forbidden Palace and Temple of Heaven, there does appear to be not the same grandeur – but does there need to be? The Tombs are, after all, a place of respect for the generations of rulers which have gone before. This fact is made evident in light of the money piles donated by tourists making the whole visit rather humbling. Therefore, to discover the very essence of the country’s incredible past, especially if you are going to travel to Beijing, a visit to the Ming Tombs should definitely be in order.

 

 

 

Ming Dynasty Tombs Travel Tips

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, Tours, by Jack Li

Located in the foot of the Tianshou Mountain, the Ming Dynasty Tombs are mausoleums of the Ming emperors. The Tianshou Mountain belongs to the Yanshan Mount Chains in Changping District, northwest of Beijing. The first tomb is the Changling Tomb built from the 7th year (1409) during the Yongle Era while the last one is […]

Located in the foot of the Tianshou Mountain, the Ming Dynasty Tombs are mausoleums of the Ming emperors. The Tianshou Mountain belongs to the Yanshan Mount Chains in Changping District, northwest of Beijing. The first tomb is the Changling Tomb built from the 7th year (1409) during the Yongle Era while the last one is for the Emperor Chongzhen. In 230 years of the Ming Dynasty, there were thirteen tombs for emperors, seven for imperial concubines, and one for an eunuch. Thirteen emperors, twenty-three empresses, two princes, more than thirty imperial concubines and an eunuch were buried in these tombs.

Best Time to Visit Ming Dynasty Tombs

Spring and autumn in Beijing are perfect seasons to travel. It is neither too cold nor too hot. In autumn, there are clear skies, crisp air and colorful leaves making Beijing the Golden city. The north edge of the Great Plain of China is surrounded by the hills on one side and waters on the other which creates a typical semi-humid continental climate for Beijing with four distinct seasons. The annual average temperature is 11.8℃with the coldest being -4.6℃ in January and the hottest being 26.1℃ in July. Springs and autumns in Beijing are quite short while winters are relatively long. The average amount of precipitation is 644 mm, with 180 frostless days. Heating systems in Beijing are quite good, so it’s warm indoor in winters. However it’s rather cold outside, and tourists have to wear sweaters and thick coats. Weather forecasts are broadcasted in newspapers, radios and on TV. You can also check the weather by calling 859 which provides Chinese and English weather reports for the day and the next day. Most people go to Beijing to visit historical cites which are not affected by weather. If you arrive in winter, you will get off-season rates in hotels and travel agencies which can save you plenty of money.

Ming Dynasty Tombs Tickets

Shenlu Road: Out of season: 15 yuan, in season: 20 yuan

Dingling Tomb: Out of season: 50 yuan, in season: 70 yuan

Changling Tomb: Out of season: 30 yuan, in season: 45 yuan

How to get to Ming Dynasty Tombs

Public Transportation

1、 Take the subway of line thirteen and get off at the Lishuiqiao stop. Then take the bus Changping 22 or 23 to the Shenlu Road to the Dingling Tomb and the Zhaoling Tomb.

2、 Take the bus 919 or 345 express at the Deshengmen stop and transfer to the bus 314 at the Changping Dongguan stop to the Dingling Tomb and the Zhaoling Tomb.

3、 Take the subway of line Changping at the Xi’erqi stop and transfer to the bus 21 at the Nanshao stop. Then take the bus 314 at the Changping Dongguan stop to the Dingling Tomb and the Zhaoling Tomb.

By Car:

Drive along the Badaling Express and get out at the exit of Changping Xiguan after paying 15 yuan. Go straight to the national road 110 after passing the Changping Xiguan roundabout. After 34 kilometres of the national road 110, turn right into the Shisanling Road. Drive about 200 meters, then there is the sign for the Ming Dynasty Tombs on the right.

There are apple orchards on the two sides of the road. Go along the road to get to Shenlu Road. Go over the T shaped crossing,  and the Dingling Tomb, the Changling Tomb and other tombs are there. The ring road around the lake by the Ming tombs reservoir is on the right hand side.Enter the ring road around the lake and drive about 4.7 kilometers, then turn left at the entrance of the Bangshan Park. Go straight and you can get to the Ming tombs reservoir.

Zhaoling Tomb (Zhaoling)

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

Zhaoling Tomb is located in the east of Dayu Mountain and is the tomb of the twelfth Emperor Muzong and his three wives. Zhaoling is the largest repaired tomb and also one of the officially open tombs. Zhaoling Tomb’s building area is 35 thousand square kilometers. The Ling’en Gate, Ling’en Palace and the East and […]

Zhaoling Tomb is located in the east of Dayu Mountain and is the tomb of the twelfth Emperor Muzong and his three wives. Zhaoling is the largest repaired tomb and also one of the officially open tombs.

Zhaoling Tomb’s building area is 35 thousand square kilometers. The Ling’en Gate, Ling’en Palace and the East and west Palace are well preserved. Also Fang City, Bright Building and Bao Roof are in good condition. The twelfth Emperor Muzong and his three wives were buried here. Emperor Muzong (1537-1572), was an average emperor among the 16 emperors in the Ming Dynasty. He didn’t care about government affairs when he was in power. Although he didn’t care about it, he didn’t object to suggestions from ministers. The Longqing negotiated peace in 1571, from then on the national between Han and Mongolian didn’t fight for more than 20 years. Turtle tombstone is Emperor Muzong’s tomb with no words, maybe because of it is hard to say whether he was a successful emperor or not. Tourists that went there always touch the turtle tombstone for there is a legend: touch the head of the turtle and you will not have to worry about your whole life and touch the buttock of the turtle and you will never be ill.

After the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Zhaoling Tomb was destroyed twice. In 1644 AD, the Bright Building was burned. On March 5th, 1696 AD, it rained heavily and Ling’en Palace and Wupei Palaces were burned by thunder strikes. Many people tried to put out the fire, the two Wupei Palaces were unharmed but the Ling’en Palace burnt down. As the years passed, the two Wupei Palace and Ling’en Gate were destroyed. From 1785 to 1787, Qing government repaired the Ming Dynasty Tombs to release the national conflicts. Zhaoling was included. From the analysis of the relics, just the Bright Building, Ling’en Gate and Ling’en Palace were repaired. At this time the tomb was rebuilt, although the system of the tomb was more complete, the original building regulations were changed.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Changling Tomb (Changling)

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

Located in the southern foot of the main peak of Tianshou Mountain, Changling Tomb is the mausoleum for the Emperor Yongle Zhudi the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and his empress Xushi. The Changling Tomb is the largest and earliest tomb to be built during the Ming Dynasty. As the most important tourist […]

Located in the southern foot of the main peak of Tianshou Mountain, Changling Tomb is the mausoleum for the Emperor Yongle Zhudi the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and his empress Xushi. The Changling Tomb is the largest and earliest tomb to be built during the Ming Dynasty. As the most important tourist attraction, its surface structures are well preserved.

Architectures of the Changling Tomb cover an area of 120,000 square meters, with a layout of square at the front and round at the back. The square part is made up of three courtyards. There is a Ling En Gate in the second courtyard. ‘Ling En’ was granted by the emperor Zhu Houcong on the 17th year of the Jiajing Era (1538). In Chinese, Ling means blessing and En means great kindness. Under the gate is a stage with white marble railings. There are three stairs at the back and front of the stage which have exquisite engravings of sea horses galloping underneath and vigorous dragons chasing fire on the upper side. On the left and right of Ling En Gate are two side doors. They are decorated by sets of yellow and green coloured glass which look bright and vivid compared to the red walls. Ling En Palace stands spaciously in the north of the courtyard. It was the palace for enshrining and worshiping memorial tablets of former emperors and empresses as well as offering sacrifices to gods and ancestors.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Yongling Tomb (Yongling)

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

Yongling Tomb is located in the south of Yangcui Mountain. It is a large tomb where the eleventh Emperor Jiajing and his three wives were buried. Yongling Tomb was built in the fifteenth year that Emperor Shizong was in power. But he selected the tomb place after his wife Chen died. At that time, Emperor […]

Yongling Tomb is located in the south of Yangcui Mountain. It is a large tomb where the eleventh Emperor Jiajing and his three wives were buried.

Yongling Tomb was built in the fifteenth year that Emperor Shizong was in power. But he selected the tomb place after his wife Chen died. At that time, Emperor Shizong commanded his ministers of Zhangcong and Yongqing Luo to select a tomb place for his wife Chen and meanwhile he also selected a tomb place for himself.

Yongqing Luo is known for his talent of divination and geomancy. When he came to Tianshou Mountain, he observed the shape and terrain of the mountain and selected two lucky places for the tombs of Xiangzi Ridge and Eighteen Ridge. Later, Emperor Shizong inspected the two places and finally he decided to build tombs at Eighteen Ridge. What’s more, Emperor Shizong thought Eighteen Ridge was not a good name, so he changed it to Yangcui Ridge. The big project began on April 22nd 1636. Emperor Shizong held the opening ceremony by himself and ordered ministers of Guoxun and Lishi to be responsible for the project. The repair work of the other seven tombs and the project of Changling stones Protection began on the same day.

Forty thousands people participated in this project at that time and some other projects like new palace and Shengji Pavilion were under construction. Therefore the cost every month was more than fifteen million grams of silver. But the Ministry of Works in Ming Dynasty didn’t have enough money, so Emperor Shizong adopted suggestions from ministers to collect taxes from people to support the tomb project.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Xianling Tomb

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

Located in the foot of the west peak of Tianshou Mountain, the Changling Tomb is the mausoleum for the Emperor Renzong Zhu Gaozhi. He was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His empress Zhangshi was also buried there. The Changling Tomb was built after the emperor’s death. The Emperor Renzong was only in […]

Located in the foot of the west peak of Tianshou Mountain, the Changling Tomb is the mausoleum for the Emperor Renzong Zhu Gaozhi. He was the third emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). His empress Zhangshi was also buried there. The Changling Tomb was built after the emperor’s death. The Emperor Renzong was only in the power for eleven months.  He left his will, saying that he had not made many devotions to the people and the country because time was so short. He would rather have a simple funeral and a plain tomb. He didn’t want to waste much money or manpower. His son Zhu Zhanqi, later named the Emperor Xuanzong, followed his will and started to build the tomb in the 1st year (1425) during the Hongxi Era. It only took three months for the construction to be accomplished.

Since it was built, the Xianling Tomb has been kept simple and plain compared with other tombs. There was not a single Statue or pavilion. Afterwards a pavilion was built during the Jiajing Era (1522-1566). The Shendao Road meaning holy and sacred is one kilometer long, with a stone bridge that has one low simple arch. The pavement was tiled just with bricks. Gravel is spread on the sides of the road, so water can flow when it rains. The location of the architectural buildings is south but is 20 degrees to the west. It covers an area of 42,000 kilometers. There are five halls in total and three gate buildings. These gate buildings are not as magnificent as those of the Changling Tomb. These architectural buildings were not built for luxurious enjoyments. Therefore there was a saying about it that ‘the Xianling Tomb is the simplest of the Ming Dynasty Tombs while the Jingling Tomb is the smallest’. The Xianling Tomb set a good example for other tombs in the Ming Dynasty.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Dingling Tomb

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Tombs, by Jack Li

The underground palace of the Dingling Tomb belonged to Emperor Zhuxianjun, the thirteenth emperor of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is also the tomb of two empresses. Located under the foot of Dayu Mountain, to the southwest of the Changling Tomb, the Dingling Tomb was built between 1584 and 1590 which is the12th year to the […]

The underground palace of the Dingling Tomb belonged to Emperor Zhuxianjun, the thirteenth emperor of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is also the tomb of two empresses. Located under the foot of Dayu Mountain, to the southwest of the Changling Tomb, the Dingling Tomb was built between 1584 and 1590 which is the12th year to the 18th year during the Wanli Era. There are architectural buildings like Ling En Gate, Bao City, Ming Building, and the underground palace. It is the only tomb among the thirteen Ming tombs which has been excavated and can be visited by tourists.

The general layout on the ground of the Dingling Tomb is round at the front and square at the back. It was designed under the ancient Chinese philosophical concept ‘the sky is round and the ground is square’. The Dingling tomb started to be built in the 12th year (1584) during the Wanli Era when the Emperor Wanli was still alive. The project took ten years and cost 400, 000 kilograms of silver, which is how ancient Chinese people paid for things. It was done by 1620 when the emperor was 28 year old. The tomb was not used for thirty years. The Dingling Tomb is one of the three largest tombs. It has three courtyards at the front and one big Bao City at the back. Right in front of the gate of the tomb is a white marble stone bridge. Across the bridge is a tall stele pavilion, where 300 rooms like offices and stations are built. Then there is the fence wall called Wailuo City on the edge of the tomb. A Chinese ancient book about tombs of emperors describes the Wailuo City as superb workmanship.

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

Ming Dynasty Tombs (Shisan Ling)

On August 26, 2011, in Beijing, Historical Relics, More Places of Interest, Must-sees, Tombs, by Jack Li

Ming Dynasty Tombs (simplified Chinese:十三陵; traditional Chinese:十三陵; pinyin: shí sān líng; literally “thirteen tombs”) is located at the foot of Tianshou Mountain. The total area is more than 120 square kilometers and it is about 50km away from Beijing. There are many mountains around the tombs and a river in front of the tombs, the […]

Ming Dynasty Tombs (simplified Chinese:十三陵; traditional Chinese:十三陵; pinyin: shí sān líng; literally “thirteen tombs”) is located at the foot of Tianshou Mountain. The total area is more than 120 square kilometers and it is about 50km away from Beijing.

There are many mountains around the tombs and a river in front of the tombs, the scenery is beautiful. Ming Dynasty Tombs were built in the east, west and north of a mountain and the tombs have been formed on a large-scale and have magnificent buildings. The warlock of the Ming Dynasty thought that this place brought luck to visitors, therefore it was selected as “Wannian Shou domain” to built tombs. The tombs were built from 1409 to 1644 and have 300-600 years of history. The tomb buildings are the largest and have the most tombs of empresses in China, even in the world. It covers an area of 40 square kilometers. In the east of Shahe town there is a splendid Gonghua city, that was used for Emperor Jiajing to have a rest but he sacrificed it to for other emperors and now it is just relics left there. The Ming Dynasty Tombs is the general name of thirteen emperor’s tombs after the capital city changed to Beijing in the Ming Dynasty. One by one it built Changling Tomb (Emperor Mingcheng Zu), Xianling Tomb (Emperor Renzong), Jingling Tomb (Emperor Xuanzong), Yuing Tomb (Emperor Yingzong) and Maoling Tomb (Emperor Xianzong.) It also built Tailing Tomb (Emperor Xiaozong), Kangling (Emperor Wuzong), Yongling Tomb (Emperor Shizong), Zhaoling Tomb (Emperor Muzong), Dingling Tomb (Emperor Shenzong) and Qingling Tomb (Emperor Guangzong.) Other tombs also include Deling Tomb (Emperor Jiazong) and Siling Tomb (Emperor Sizong.) Changling Tomb, Diling Tomb, Zhaoling Tomb and Road Shen are the only tombs which have been opened.

The Ming Dynasty Tombs are the most well preserved than any other China emperors’ tombs. After the founding of People’s Republic of China, the government began to repair it from the early liberation period and protected the tombs as the national important relics. In 1957, Beijing government announced that the Ming Dynasty Tombs are the first focus of Ancient Culture Relics unit in Beijing. In 1961, the Ming Dynasty Tombs were announced as the importance of national culture relics. In 1982, the Ming Dynasty Tombs were announced as the one of the 44 important national scenic resorts protection zone. In 1991, the Ming Dynasty Tombs were identified as one of the “Forty Best Tourist Destinations of China.” In 1992, the Ming Dynasty Tombs were named as “the best preserved and the most emperors’ tomb group in the world” by Tourism Committee.

Ming Dynasty Tombs attractions:

Dingling Tomb

Yongling Tomb

Zhaoling Tomb

Changling Tomb

Xianling Tomb

Ming Tombs

On November 17, 2010, in Beijing, China Travel Gossip, Historical Relics, Tombs, by Jack Li

The Ming Tombs are the final resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors. These Tombs really show off exquisite Chinese architecture which has been well looked after for many years. The site where the Tombs sit was especially selected because of its auspicious feng shui alignment, it is cradled between the ridges of […]

The Ming Tombs are the final resting place for 13 of the 16 Ming Emperors. These Tombs really show off exquisite Chinese architecture which has been well looked after for many years. The site where the Tombs sit was especially selected because of its auspicious feng shui alignment, it is cradled between the ridges of two mountains protecting the dead and letting the evil spirits be carried by the north wind.

Beautiful Pathway

The most impressive Tombs by far are that of the Yongle emperor  and Chang Li these two were the first two to be built and are the most ornate. In recent times they have been tastefully restored to show their true previous beauty, however there are parts of the burial chamber that have never been excavated. There is a lot of speculation about  what may be underneath it’s thought that 16 concubines are buried there.

Amazingly Vivid Colours

The  Burial park is very big, with 13 tombs which are spread across a 15 square mile area which is very far to walk if you want to see it all in one day. I would suggest if you want to visit them all they should be visited by a taxi. There is so much more to see besides the Tombs foe example the Ding Ling treasures, which are the artifacts from Wanli Empores mostly are made of gold and have a priceless value. My favourite was the threaded-gold-crown it is beautifully bright and golden it has two dragons carved into it.

Gold Threaded Crown

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