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Beijing Travel and Tour Guide: Ming Tombs and Tours


Ming Tombs are approximately 50km northwest of Beijing in Changping County. The Tombs are the dynastic burial grounds of 13 emperors from the Ming Dynasty, and a number of concubines and eunuchs. The burial complex spans 15 square km. In 2003, the Ming Tombs was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The third emperor, Yongle, chose Mount Yan as the site for the mausoleum. He selected the site based on fengshui principles, with Jundu Mountains deflecting bad spirits coming from the north. All of the emperors' tombs were constructed at the foot of a small hill with access to the main road, the Sacred Way, which is decorated with clouds, waves and divine animals. The archway is the best-preserved specimen of its kind and the largest ancient stone archway in China.

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 inhumes Emperor Zhudi, the fourth son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. We  recommends the Ling'en 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 gold bricks.

Changling, Chang Tomb, is the largest and oldest of the tombs located approximately 4km from the entrance. It was built in the 15th century and serves as the burial ground for Emperor Zhu Di and his empress. In total, Changling occupies 120,000sqm. Structures around the central axis include Front Gate to the Tomb, Gate of Eminent Favor, the Hall of Eminent Favor, the Dragon & Phoenix Gate, Soul Tower and Wall-circle Earth Mound. Hall of Eminent Favor, its interior brackets and columns made out of a single nanmu trunk piece, is the most striking architectural piece that graces the grounds. The hall serves as a museum that displays artifacts unearthed on the premises.

The Dingling (Ding Tomb) took 56 years to complete. 250 tons of silver and thousands of laborers were used in its construction. Emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses were buried together here. The excavations exhumed many artifacts, like a crown and various ornaments and utensils displayed in the adjacent Dingling Museum. When it was originally constructed, the tomb grounds had bridges, a stele pavilion, halls, towers and annexes on the ground. However, what remains is the stone Soul Tower. Behind the tower is the underground palace, 27 meters in depth. The underground palace can be entered via a tunnel and occupies a 1,195sqm area. The palace is comprised of five joint halls made out of marble, which houses thrones, coffins, burial chest and other artifacts.

Zhaoling (Zhao Tomb) is located southwest of Dingling. It was constructed in 1538 and serves as Zhu Zhaihou's (the 12th emperor of the Ming Dynasty) mausoleum. The mausoleum is known for its distinct architectural design since it lies above ground. It consists of four bridges, a stele pavilion and halls. It is the only tomb complex that has been rebuilt to original architectural designed.




 Check our Beijing Bus Tour Programs. With our one-day group tour program, you can visit Underground Palace (Ming Tomb) on the way after you tour the Great Wall at Mutianyu

Learn more about Beijing private and non-private tours.


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