Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum/Tomb is the tomb of the Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) and Empress Ma. Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) was the founder of the Ming Dynasty. It lies at the southern foot of Purple Mountain, in the east of the historical centre of Nanjing, China. The construction of the mausoleum began during the Hongwu Emperor life in 1381 and finished in 1405, during the reign of his son the Yongle Emperor, it took 25 years to construct and a huge expenditure of human resources involving 100,000 laborers. The mausoleum was built under heavy guard of 5,000 military troops. The original wall of the mausoleum was more than 22.5 kilometers long.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum/Tomb embodies the ancient Chinese philosophic thinking of "unity of humans and the universe". It inherited the advantages of the systems of imperial mausoleums of the Han (206BC-220AD), Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties, while creating a new system of its own. The system developed during the construction of Xiao-ling became the general structure of mausoleum architecture for more than 500 years. As a result, Xiao-ling has been the leading mausoleum system in the Ming and Qing dynasties, possessing a fabulous and cherished position in the development of Chinese imperial mausoleum. On July 3, 2003, Xiao-ling Mausoleum was inscribed on the list of World Heritage by UNESCO.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is around 2.62 km deep and 2.62 wide, then the main mausoleum buildings were surrounded by a red wall with a 2.25 km long perimeter. Having gone through 600 years of vicissitudes, many wooden structures inside buildings were destroyed. But the layout of the tomb and the pattern of the buildings still remain the original grand style. And luckily, underground palace of the tomb is intact. The overall layout of the tomb is divided into two parts: the first part is the winding Sacred Way, the second part is the main buildings of the mausoleum, that is, cemetery of Hongwu Emperor (Zhu Yuanzhang) and Empress Ma, which starts from the main entrance (The Great Golden Gates), Treasure City, Minglou Building to Chongqiu Hill. main buildings of the mausoleum includes Xiama Lane, Da Jin Men (Great golden gate), Sifangcheng(Square City), Shengong Shengde Stele (The Stele of Godly Merit and Saintly Virtue), Minglou Building, Treasure City, Bao-ding, etc..
【The Sacred Way】
The Sacred Way is a 2400-metre-long road in S shape. The winding Sacred Way (Shendao) starts near the Sifangcheng Pavilion. It includes several sections: the Elephant Road and the Wengzhong Road. The Elephant Road is lined by twelve pairs of six different kinds of animals (lions, scorpion, camels, Chinese unicorn, horses and elephants), guarding the mausoleum. Beyond them is a column called Huabiao(ornamental columns erected in front of palaces or tombs in China). And then continues along the Wengzhong Road. Four pairs of stone statues of ministers and generals (or warrior guardian figures) have been standing here for centuries to guard the way to the afterlife.
On the both side of the way grows gingkos and maples, whose leaves turn into yellow and red in autumn. It would look very beautiful by the time.
【Great Golden Gate (Da Jin Men)】
Great Golden Gate is the main entrance of the mausoleum. The gate is 26.66 meters wide and 8.09 meters deep. There are three doorways, with one large in the middle and two small ones on both sides. After entering the gate, you will be soon faced by a giant stone tortoise, which resides in the Sifangcheng Pavilion. The tortoise supports a splendid carved stone stele, crowned by intertwining hornless dragons. The tortoise is 2.54 meter wide, 5.15 meters long and 2.8 meter tall, and the stele stands 8.78 meters tall (including the tortoise) and is one of the best-known examples of its genre. The well-preserved stele is known as the "Shengong Shengde Stele". The inscription of the stele, extolling the merits and virtues of the Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, was written by his fourth son, the Yongle Emperor.
The Lingxing Gate, a decorated archway at the end of the Wengzhong Road, was destroyed long time ago. The gate we can see today was rebuilt in 2006.
【Fang Cheng (Square City)】
Fang Cheng (Square City) is a huge building in front of in front of Bao Ding. All exterior walls of it were built with giant slabs of stones. The whole building is 75.26 meters long from east to west, and 30.94 meters wide from north to south. Walk along the left and right side of the city, you can board Minglou Building.
【Bao Ding Building】
Bao Ding is a roughly circular mound with a diameter of 400 meters. It is underground palace where Hongwu Emperor and Empress Ma are buried. It is protected by brick wall around.
【Chinese name】: 明孝陵
【Best time to visit】: Best time to visit there is March to May, September to early November, when the weather is mild and cool, with less rain, and the view is the most beautiful as well. It is cold to visit there in December, January and February. It is hot in July
【How to get to Ming Xiaoling Tomb in Nanjing】: you may take Subway Line 2 or take Public Bus Route游2, 20, 315 or游3 to get there.