Introducing Ming Tombs
Situated at the foot of Tianshou Mountains of Changping District, Beijing, the Ming Tombs is the cemetery of the 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Covering an area of 80 square kilometers, it is about 50 kilometers away from Beijing city proper. Construction of the Ming Tombs started in 1409 and ended in 1644, when the Ming Dynasty collapsed. It took 200 plus years to build the Ming Tombs from beginning to end. 13 imperial tombs, 7 concubines’ tombs are scattered in the valley.
Ming Tombs Fast Facts
• Chinese Name: Ming Shi San Ling 明十三陵
• Best Time to Visit: April, May, September and October
• Recommended Visiting Hours: About 2 to 3 hours
• Opening Hours
Apr 1 to Oct 31: 8:00-17:30
Nov 1 to Mar 31: 8:30-17:00
• Entrance Fee
Apr 1 to Oct 31: Sacred Way CNY30, Dingling Tomb CNY60, Changling Tomb CNY45
Nov 1 to Mar 31: Sacred Way CNY20, Dingling Tomb CNY40, Changling Tomb CNY30
• Address: Changci Road, Shisanling Town, Changping District, Beijing
What to expect at Ming Tombs
The Sacred Way
It’s the sacred way of Changling as well. It’s called the General Sacred Way because the sacred ways of all the tombs derived from here. Construction of the Sacred Way started from 1435 and more buildings were added in 1540. The Stone Memorial Arch, Great Red Gate (with Dismounting Steles at both sides),Stele Pavilion of Divine Merits and Sacred Virtues, Stone Statues and Animals, Dragon and Phoenix Gate, Five-Arch Bridge and Seven-Arch Bridgeline from the south to the north. Among them, Stele Pavilion of Divine Merits and Sacred Virtues, the Stone Statues and Animals and Dragon and Phoenix Gates are the core architectures of the Sacred Way. The stone carvings, gravely modeled, accords with the solemn atmosphere of commemoration of the tombs and achieve a very high artistic level.
In the 7th year of the Yong Le reign (1409), the burial grounds were selected. Emperor Zhu Di, in visiting the place himself, found a vast area with good soil and ringed by hills. Zhu Di, gratified that his diviners found the signs for this location agreeable, ordered forty square kilometers in this area dedicated to the necropolis. Thus construction of the Changling Mausoleum began. The area chosen as an auspicious site for the imperial burial grounds was not only beautiful of scenery, but also in an excellent position from a military perspective as the mountains provided a natural defense for the area, as well as for the capital. Changling, built by Emperor Zhu Di at the foot of Tianshou Mountain in the northern part of present Changping County, was the first imperial tomb in this area. It is the largest and most magnificent as well as the best-preserved one. With a history of about 600 years, it has been in good condition and remains resplendent. Ling’en Hall is the place where the heir emperors offered sacrifices to memorize Emperor Yongle. It is a double-eave structure with hip roof and the ground is paved with golden bricks. Sixty huge pillars and all wooden structural components are made of Jinsi Nanmu (a kind of rare and hard wood), which makes Ling’en Hall antique and unique. The bronze statue of Emperor Yongle, sitting in the throne carved with nine dragons, is extremely lifelike.
Located at the eastern foot of the Dayu Mountain, Dingling is the joint burial tomb of the 13th Ming emperor Zhu Yijun and his two empresses. Zhu Yijun(1563-1620), whose reign title was Wanli and posthumous title was Shenzong, ascended the throne at the age of 10 and ruled for 48 years until he died at the age of 58. It took six years to build Dingling, construction of which started in Nov. 1584 and ended in June 1590. Dingling covers an area of 180,000 square meters. The Underground Palace of Dingling is the only one of the Ming Tombs excavated so far. The trial excavation started in May 1956 and was finished one year later. With a total floor space of 1,195 square meters, theUnderground Palace is composed of five stone chambers: the front chamber, the middle chamber, the rear chamber and the left and right annex chambers. More than 3,000 pieces of cultural relics were unearthed from Dingling. In 1959 Dingling Museum was set up at the original site and was opened to the public.
Located in the east foot Dayu Mountain, with the area of 35, 000 square meters, Zhaoling Tomb is where buried the twelfth emperor of Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Zaihou and his three empresses. After the extinction of Ming Dynasty, Zhaoling Tomb has experienced two large destructions by the war and the heavily rain’s whipping. In Qing Dynasty, the government renovated some tombs including Zhaoling Tomb to ease the racial tensions. Now Zhaoling turns to be the best representation of Ming Tomb Complex.
How to get to Ming Tombs
• Take bus No. 872 from Deshengmen Bus Station to Dingling and Changling.
• Take bus No. 345 Zhi or 881 from Deshengmen West Station, and get off at Changping Dongguan Station. Then take bus NO. 314 to Dingling and Changling.
• Take bus No. 872 from Deshengmen Station, and get off at Nanxincun Station (Scared Way), Dingling Station or Changling Station.
Additional travel advice on Ming Tombs
• Visitors can also explore Juyongguan Great Wall which is around 20 km from Ming Tombs. Badaling Great Wall is 30 km away.
• A popular itinerary for touring the Ming Tombs and nearby attractions: Badaling Great Wall or Juyongguan Great Wall → Sacred Way → Dingling → Changling.