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ChangLing Tomb

During the beginning of the Ming Dynasty, the capital was located in Nanjing, which is located in the southern portion of China.  Emperor Zhudi, who was the third Ming Dynasty, decided to move the capital to Beijing so the boundary was northern and more peaceful.  During this change, the Imperial Palace and temples were built as well as the construction of the famous Ming Tombs.  Over the years, thirteen Emperors were buried in the tombs, which is where the name “Thirteen Ming Tombs” came from. 
These tombs are astoundingly large, measuring 40 kilometers in circumference.  Because of the size, the final construction took more than 200 years to complete.  The walkway that leads to the Ming Tombs is flanked by 18 pairs of giant stone statues, leading to the Changling, which is the tomb of Emperor Yongle, who was by far the most powerful and prominent of all Emperors during the Ming Dynasty. 

The location of the Ming Tomb was chosen based on the theory of geomancy and Feng Shui.  This particular location is surrounded by beautiful, rolling hills that work to form a protective screen to the north.  On the east, Dragon Hill resides, on the west is Tiger Hill, and to the south, the Wenyu River.  Together, these natural elements work to screen the Ming Tombs. 

Being very pleased with the location, Emperor Zhudi changed the name to Heavenly Longevity Hill.  While not all of the tombs are open to the public to enjoy, several are to include the Chang, Ding, and Zhao tombs.  Stretching seven kilometers going from the south to north and through the center of where the tombs are located is a place called the Sacred Way.  Originally, this was built for the very first of the Ming Tombs, Changling, which was Emperor Yongle’s tomb.  However, as time passed and additional tombs were built, the Sacred Way became the main road leading to all the tombs.

50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). 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 are very similar but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.

It was originally built only as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling.

The Great Red Gate marks the beginning of the 7-kilometer-long Sacred Way (Shendao), which leads to the entrance of the Changling, the tomb of Emperor Yongle (reigned 1403-1424). Continuing on, one comes to a tall square stela pavilion, with four tall white stone ornamental columns (huabiao) set at each of its four corners, standing boldly in the center of the Sacred Way. The pavilion houses a huge stone tortoise by the famous Avenue of the Animals, where pairs of lions, elephants, camels. Horses and a number of mythological beasts line the road. There are 24 stone creatures in all. These beasts are followed in turn by a group of 12 stone human figures, which represent the funeral cortege of the deceased emperors. Carved in 1540, this group is made up of military, civil and meritorious officials. Immediately beyond these human figures are the Dragon and Phoenix Gate (Longfengmen), which are pierced with three archways.  The Sacred Way

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. Travel China Guide recommends the Lingsi 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 is the largest and best preserved of the 13 Ming Tombs near Beijing. ChangLing, 4km (2 1/2 miles) from the entrance, is the tomb of Emperor YongLe (reign 1403-1424) and empress XuShi. The layout is identical to the tomb of the first Ming emperor in Nanjing and is rather like the Forbidden City in miniature. In addition to the palace, there is an underground burial chamber.

the Changling, the Sacred Way passes over a river via two bridges of five and seven arches respectively. From here, all 13 tombs can be seen; the foothills and groves of trees dotted with golden yellow roofs stretch for 19 kilometers across this sacred valley.

    Compared to the other 12 tombs the Changling is the largest and best preserved. Built on a south-facing slope, the Changling‘ s three courtyards are entirely surrounded by walls. The first courtyard extends from the massive three-arched entrance gate to the Gate of Eminent Favor (Long‘ enmen); on the east of this courtyard stands a pavilion, which contains a stone tablet, a stone camel and a stone dragon. Inside the second courtyard stands the Hall of Eminent Favor. The central portion of the stairway, which leads up to this great hall is carved with designs of sea beats and dragons. To the east and west of the hall stand two ritual stoves where bolts of silk and inscribed scrolls were set aflame as offerings to the emperor‘s ancestors. The dimensions of the Hall of Eminent Favor (67 x 29 meters) closely match the dimensions of the Hall of Supreme Harmony (Taihedian) in the Forbidden City, which makes it one of the largest wooden buildings in China. Four giant wooden columns and 28 smaller pillars support this structure, The four large columns are 14.3 meters high and 1.17 meters in diameter, and are extraordinary for the fact that they are each a single trunk of Phoebe nanmu.

Admission Fee: Changling Tomb: CNY 30 (Nov.1 to Mar. 31)
                  CNY 45 (Apr. 1 to Oct. 31)
Opening Hours: Changling Tomb: 08:30 to 17:30
Time for a Visit:
Two hours
Tourist Bus Route: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

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