Beijing Ming Tombs & Sacred Tomb Avenue, China
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Beijing Ming Tombs & Sacred Tomb Avenue
The Ming Tombs and the Sacred Tomb Avenue lie at the foot of the Tianshou Mountains in Changping County of Beijing.
Sacred Tomb Avenue is the broad way leading to the Thirteen Ming Tombs.
Dingling (Ding Tomb) is a huge underground tomb among the thirteen tombs.
Usually visitors who finish touring the Badaling Great Wall in Beijing will choose the Thirteen Ming Tombs as their next destination.
The beginning of the Sacred Tomb Avenue is the "Stone Memorial Archway" at the south of the Tombs Zone. The archway was build in the 19th year of Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty (1540 AD). The 14 meters high and 28.7 meters wide Stone Memorial Archway has 5 gates and 6 stone columns.
It is the biggest and earliest extant stone archway in China. Both sides of the stone column under the archway were carving with elegant relief: eight pairs of lions playing with a ball and sixteen vivid flying dragons. Behind the stone archway is the Great Palace gate. It is the front gate of the tomb zone.
Go ahead, you will find various stone statues of people and beasts on both sides of the way. The stone statures are invaluable. It includes 4 lions, 4 Xie, 4 camels, 4 elephants, 4 Qilin and 4 horses, in pairs with one standing and another kneeling down. Four civil officials, 4 military officials and 4 meritorious officials follow them. It adds up to 18 pairs, 36 statues. They stand face to face on the flank of the Sacred Tomb Avenue with imposing feature.
At the end of the stone statues is the Lingxing Gate, normally called Dragon and Phoenix Gate. Because people called the emperor's death "funeral of heaven", so it also means the heaven gate. The gate has three paths, every gate separated by dwarf walls.
Those gates were carved with stone-made fire pearl, so people nearby call it firing memorial archway. Go along the Sacred Tomb Avenue, you will reach the Thirteen Ming Tombs. It got the name from the thirteen tombs of emperor in Ming Dynasty.
Dingling is the first excavated imperial tombs and the largest tomb among them, so it becomes an important scenic spot in thirteen tombs today.
Dingling is the tomb of Emperor Shenzong Zhuyijun (the 13th Ming emperor and the longest Ming ruler), and his two empresses, Xiaoduan and Xiaojing. Emperor Shenzong began to build the underground palace in the 12th year of his rule (1584A.D.), when he was only 22 years old. It took 6 years to complete the construction.
Being the most exquisite tomb in the thirteen tombs, it cost 8,000,000 tales of silver. When the tomb was first completed, Emperor Shenzong hold a grand ceremony to celebrate the completion of his tomb.
The underground palace lies 27 meters below the surface and has 5 halls: an antechamber, central hall, rear hall and left and right annexes. The rear hall is the largest hall and it was 31.1 meters in length, 9.1 meters in width, 9.5meters in height.
The construction above the ground of Dingling is unique too. There is well preserved Minglou (Bright Tower), in front of which set up Dingling Unearthed Relics Display Room. It displays all the valuable excavated unearthed relics and treasures, which belong to Emperor Shenzong and his two empresses. All these deserve a good enjoyment.
The Thirteen Tombs is the tombs of Ming Emperors, Dingling is the most famous architecture. It was an underground palace with typical imperial construction style. Dingling, the tomb lies below 27meters from the surface, was the only one that been excavated in all the thirteen tombs.
Three thousand articles of relics and treasures that adding up to 26 boxes were taken out from the tomb. Those treasures will bring feast on your eyes and you can have a clear understanding on why those emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasty built tombs in such large scales.
Put on soft soles when you visit Dingling because you will have to climb up and down the stairs. Because the palace is under ground, it's quite warm in winter and cool in summer, best is to prepare a coat to avoid catching cold when you visit it in summer.