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Home >> Beijing Travel Attractions >> Dingling Ming Tombs

Dingling - Ming Tombs

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
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Ming Tombs and Sacred Way, Beijing tour package

The most elaborate of the two restored tombs is that of Emperor Shen Zong (Wan Li) who reigned from 1573-1620 A.D. You will cross a small bridge which is marked with a stele on the back of a tortoise on the far side. Following the road brings the visitor to an entrance gate with three arched doorways. Passing through the wall in which the doors are set, the visitor walks toward a terrace which holds the bases of some stone columns that are all that remain of a building that once stood on the site. On one end three sets of stone steps lead down from the terrace to a tree-lined courtyard. At the other end of the terrace are three stairways, the middle one leading to another small terrace where sacrifices were made. Again only the bases of surviving columns remain of the building that once occupied the spot. Following the path further along brings the visitor to a gateway that opens onto a third courtyard on either side of which are two small museum buildings.

The first museum, to the right, contains a model and photographs tracing the excavation of the tomb, and possessions of the two empresses buried in Ding Ling (Empress Xiao Duan, the Emperor's first wife who died in 1620 a few months before the Emperor, and his secondary wife, Empress Xiao Jing, who died in 1612 and whose body was moved to Ding Ling only after her son became emperor). The second museum, to the left, contains the possessions of the Emperor. The museum exhibition rooms have some three thousand items including clothing, silver, jade, and porcelain.

At the far end of this third courtyard is the large brick Square Tower and on top of this a Stele Tower. The Square Tower was erected against the Precious Wall which goes around the tumulus. Stairs lead up to the top of the Precious Wall from which it is possible to walk onto the tumulus. Additional stairs lead up to the top of the Square Tower.

Entrance to the tomb proper is near here. The tomb contains three rooms and can be reached by descending three flights of stairs. The first or outer room was of little value as nothing was found here during the excavation. The central chamber contained three altars and funerary lamps. Behind these alters was a very intricately carved throne. The third or final room, which cups the other two like a "T," is where the bodies of the Emperor and Empresses were laid, as well as the considerable treasurers with which they were interred.

The two side chambers on either side of the central chamber are still something of a mystery. Each one had a platform large enough to hold a coffin and from each a corridor led out of the tumulus, but when the excavation was complete, both rooms were found to be empty. It is thought that they were meant for the two empresses but at the last minute the coffins were found to be too large so they had to be interred in the emperor's chamber.

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