ShiSanLing -- Mings Tombs Beijing Reviews
The Imperial Mausoleum -- Ming Tombs Dec 22, 2009
Beijing has been home to more than five feudal dynasties. Its no great surprise then, that 13 of the 16 Ming emperors have their tombs situated just outside the city. The site of the Ming Tombs was carefully chosen as the imperial cemetery by fengshui masters after careful examination the surrounding area on orders from the indefatigable Emperor Yongle. All but three of the Ming emperors are buried here. The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors.
The Ming Tombs are located in Changping District, about 50 kilometers (31 miles) to the northwest of Beijing. This imperial cemetery covers an area of 40 square kilometers with 13 Ming emperors, 23 empresses, many imperial concubines, princes and princesses buried there. These tombs are the best-preserved of all Chinese imperial tombs.
The Ming tombs were put under protection of the Beijing municipal government in 1957. In July 2003, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee at its 27th session officially inscribed the Xiaoling Tomb in Nanjing and Ming Tombs (Shisanling) in Beijing on the World Heritage List as assemblage of the Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
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 (Shisan ling) are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.
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.
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!
Spring is the best time of year to visit, when the area surrounding the vaults is alive with trees and blooming flowers. It is a good place to visit if you are interested in dynastic history. Aside from that, it's a little dry. However, the local government seemed to realize that there is a potentially lucrative market (at least passing through) and as such, are attempting to spice the whole thing up a little. Planned developments include a golf course, picnic area, swimming pool, a hotel and various restaurants and cafes.
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