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                                    Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum







Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the mausoleum of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) Zhu Yuanzhang. Located in the eastern outskirts of Nanjing, the total area of the mausoleum is 1,700,000 square meters (about 420 acres). Construction began in 1381 and took more than 30 years to complete. Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the largest mausoleum in Nanjing and one of the largest in China. After undergoing many changes only the brick construction remains and all the wooden parts have been destroyed by fire. The position of the mausoleum was chosen by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang himself. The position along with the structural style had a great affect on the construction of later mausoleums.

Nanjing became the capital of China when Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368.  During his reign, Zhu Yuanzhang built the great city walls of Nanjing, the imperial palace, and his future tomb - the Ming Tomb in Nanjing.  The Ming Tomb is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-see for travellers to Nanjing.

The mausoleum has two discreet sections: One is the Sacred Way area and the other is the main body of the mausoleum itself.

At the entrance to the mausoleum, you will see the Dismounting Archway. As a gesture of deep respect, visitors would discount their horses and sedans at this point. Not far from the entrance is the Tablet Pavilion called Si Fang Cheng. Here a majestic tablet was erected by order of Emperor Zhu Di, the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, to eulogize his father's merits and virtues. The tablet is carried by Bixi, a legendary animal in the shape of a tortoise. Walking northwesterly across the bridge, you will see the winding 1800-meter long Sacred Way. Its middle section runs east-west and is called Shi Xiang Road. It is lined with several pairs of stone sculptured animals guarding the tomb. Each animal is postured differently and each conveys an auspicious meaning. For example, the lions, king of the animals, show the stateliness of the emperors, the camels, symbol of desert and tropical areas, indicate the vast territory of the dynasty and the elephants imply that the policies of the dynasty are to meet the desire of the grass root and the stabilization of the dynasty. Beyond the animals is a pair of decorative columns called Hua Biao that are carved with dragons. From here the Sacred Way turns into a north-south direction and becomes known at Weng Zhong Road. This location is marked by stone carved statues of ministers and generals. Different from the straight sacred ways in the former dynasties, the Sacred Way at Mingxiaoling goes in different directions making it unique and unprecedented in Chinese history.

Continuing north along the Sacred Way, you will reach the main body of the mausoleum. There you will start from the Golden Water Bridge (Jin Shui Qiao) and arrive at the main gate named Wen Wu Archway. Outside the gate, there is a stone tablet with words carved in six languages notifying visitors of the importance of the mausoleum. You next arrive at the Xiao Ling Hall, the main structure of the mausoleum. It was rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and was smaller in size than the original. Figures of Emperor Chengzu and Queen Ma are hanging inside on the wall. There are also a variety of sculptures depicting various scenes like the 'Two Dragons Playing with the Pearl', 'the Heavenly Horses Flying in the Sky' and 'the Blazing Sun over the Country'. Then you will come to Fang Cheng (a castle-like building) and Ming Lou (a structure built in palace style with four walls left only). They are both innovations of the Ming Dynasty. The last part is Bao Cheng that looks like a massif and the tomb of Emperor Chengzu and Queen Ma is just beneath.

Mingxiaoling Mausoleum is renowned for its unique design, its eminent status, its amazing beauty and its magnificent scale. It's the milestone in the historical development of Chinese mausoleums. As an extension of the 'Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it is listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.

Tourist Bus Route:
The Ming Tomb area is quite easy to locate. It is a good starting place from which to move on towards the hiking trails further up the mountain and to other tourist attractions located along the south face of Purple Mountain.
Bus #20,  (travel 1, you 1), 2 and  3 all stop at several locations bordering the Ming Tomb scenic area.  The Square City bus stop is the best place to start a scenic walk up the sacred path towards the Ming Tower.  The bus stations on the east of the scenic area are convenient for leaving the area or for reaching other sections of Purple Mountain.
Unknown to most, there is actually a way to get to Ming Tomb area from a path above.  This path splits off from the hiking trail that connects the observatory with the mountain top.  See the Purple Mountain article for more info.

Admission Fee : CNY 70
Bus Route : 20, Tourism Bus No. 2 & 3