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Home >> Beijing Travel Attractions >> Ming Tombs And Sacred Way tour guide

Ming Tombs And Sacred Way

Beijing tour China travel to Tombs and Sacred Way
Beijing travel China tours to Ming Tombs
Beijing trip China tours to Ming Tombs and Sacred Way
Sacred Way, Beijing tours China travel
Ming Tombs and Sacred Way, Beijing tour package

The Ming Dynasty had a total of seventeen emperors but only thirteen are buried here. Emperor Cheng Zu (Yong Le) was the third Ming Emperor but the first of the Ming Dynasty to choose this site. His tomb is considered the "chief tomb" and the others were built, one by one, around it. The original path of the Sacred Way led to his tomb. Each tomb was broken into three parts: a building where sacrifices were offered; a tower for the stele; and the tumulus itself. which covered the underground palace where the body was buried. (A stele was a pillar, usually made of stone, used in ancient times for votive purposes.)
Of the thirteen tombs, Ding Ling, the tomb of the fourteenth emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Shen Zong, and Chang Ling, Emperor Cheng Zu's tomb, are the only ones that have been restored. Ding Ling is completely accessible with the tomb buildings renovated and the tomb itself excavated. At Chang Ling, the tomb buildings have been renovated but the tomb itself has yet to be excavated. The other eleven tombs have survived but are in severely damaged states.

The Sacred Way

The approach to the Ming Tombs is called the Sacred Way. Approximately 4 mi. (6.4 km.) in length, it begins when you pass a white marble gate and ends at the gate of the chief tomb. The first landmark, the white marble gate, was built in 1540 A.D. With five arches it has beautiful bas-relief carvings at its base. Originally the Sacred Way passed through this Gate. Today you will see it to the right of the road. Next comes the Great Red Gate. This is a massive building with three archways, each of which is 120 ft. (36 m.) high and 35 ft. (10.5 m.) wide. Traditionally the center passage was reserved for the body of the emperor who was being transported to his final resting place. When visiting the site even the live emperors used the side porticos. This gate gave access to the original grounds which were surrounded by a high wall to keep out all unauthorized visitors. The penalty for intruders was death. A small retinue of officials and workers lived on the grounds permanently and saw to the landscaping and upkeep of the buildings.

Next along the road is the Stele Pavilion, which was erected in 1426 A.D. and is 30 ft. (9 m.) high. The inscribed stele within stands on the back of a tortoise and at each of the four comers are white marble columns decorated with carvings of dragons. Directly beyond this is the world-renowned Avenue of the Animals. The custom of placing animals outside of royal tombs dates from the time of the Han Dynasty (206B.C.-220 A.D.). There are twenty-four large white marble animals, twelve facing pairs, equidistantly placed on either side of the road in standing and kneeling positions. Six animals are represented: two mythical animals, lions, elephants, camels, and horses. Then the Avenue turns slightly to the right and there is a row of twelve stone mandarin statues dating from the fifteenth century, six on each side. At the end of the Avenue of the Animals is a small portico with three gates. The road runs along on either side leading to the sites of the thirteen tombs.

Beijing Tour To Chang Ling Ming Tombs

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