Changling Tomb

The Ming Tombs first began construction in 1409 with the Changling Tomb, which belongs to the third Ming Dynasty Emperor Zhu Di(Yongle Emperor 1402-1424). Of the thirteen tombs here, it is the centerpiece, being the largest and most impressive of them all.

Buried along with Zhu Di is his wife, Empress Xushi and around them are the tombs of 16 concubines. The underground section and burial chamber have yet to be excavated and only the surface buildings can be seen.

The tombs design is a series of structures built on a straight axis which is the same as the first Ming emperor's tomb in Nanjing and like that of the Forbidden City, which Zhu Di also built during his reign. Finished in 1927, the tombs sit at the base of Tianshou Mountain (Longevity of Heaven).

A three arched gateway in the surrounding wall serves as the entrance. Moving on you will pass through Ling'enmen Gate (Gate of Eminent Favour) and on to the magnificent Ling'en Hall (Hall of Eminent Favour). Covering 1,956 square meters it almost matches the Forbidden City's Hall of Supreme Harmony in size. It is famous for the 32 huge 12.5 meter high nanmu tree trunks that are the hall's columns. These had to be brought from thousands of kilometers away in southern China and they indicate the complex scale and grandeur of its construction. Decorated with green ceiling panels, the hall is a museum for the artefacts excavated from the Dingling tomb's underground halls.

Behind the hall you pass the Dragon and Phoenix Gate, the Soul Tower and finally come to a large mound of earth encircled by a wall. Changling tomb is certainly an impressive sight and truly shows the ancient reverence in which Emperors were held.