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Ming Xiao Tomb

Emperor Zhu YuanzhangNanjing was the capital of the Ming Dynasty. The

Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum

(Ming Xiao Tomb) stands at the southern foot of the

Zhongshan Mountain

(the Bell Mountain). The tombs for Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty and the Queen Ma are here. Construction of the mausoleum began in 1381, the following year Queen Ma died and buried here. The emperor had bestowed her title "The Queen of Xiao Ci", which means "The Queen of Filial Piety and Kindness" and the name of the mausoleum was derived from. In 1398 the Emperor Zhu passed away and buried just beside the Queen. The overall construction was completed in 1413, when the majestic stele was erected under the order of Emperor Zhu Di, the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, eulogizing the merits and virtues of his father. The mausoleum is one of the first State Protected Cultural Relics and is enlisted as World's Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.
More than 600 years have passed, much of the wooden part of the mausoleum has been damaged and lost but the main layout still exists and the majestic ambience still intact. The architecture, stone carvings and steles of the mausoleum are the valuable relics of the Ming Dynasty. The layout of the tomb incarnates the ceremonial system, but it makes people thinking that it reflects the imperial power and feudal politics at that time.
Mingxiao Ling MausoleumThe

Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum

 is divided into two parts. You will see the long and winding Divine Path first when you arrive here. The Dismounting Archway at the entrance of the mausoleum is for officials to dismount their horses and sedans here as a gesture of respect to the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Built in 1531 the Sacred Hill Stele is located 36m east to the archway. Originally, there was pavilion here but destroyed. Now only the steles on the four corners still exist. A stone tablet lying just 17m to the east of the Sacred Hill Stele is carved the nine rules in preventing the damage of the Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum.
About 750m to the northwest of the Dismounting Archway is the first gate of the mausoleum, which is called the Great Golden Gate. Go further north about 70m, you will see the Stele of Merits and Virtues and the Tablet Pavilion. The top of this brick-built pavilion is disappeared, but the majestic look of it still quite obvious. It has a nickname called the "Square Castle" because it has four 5m-wide arch doors on the four side of the pavilion respectively, which makes you feel this is a castle. The Sacred Way is 615m in length. Built on the landform of the Bell Mountain, it is long and winding with 24 stone-carved statues of animals evenly distributed along the path.

The second part is the main architecture of the

Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum

. The Wen Wu Gate is the entrance of the Mingxiao Tomb. Inside the mausoleum, a stone tablet with words carved, noticing people the historical importance of the mausoleum. The Stele Hall is the next place you will visit. The hall was originally having the Xiaoling Gate with five doors, but destroyed in later time. The present gate was rebuilt during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The middle of the five steles in the hall is carved "The Administration of the Ming Dynasty is much better than Tang and Song", which was inscribed by the Emperor Kangxi in 1699. In the early stage of the Qing's rule, the administration knew that they needed the cooperation from the Han Chinese, so Kangxi had visited the Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum 5 times in paying respect of the ousted dynasty.

Fang Cheng (literally "Square City"), which is a big, castle-like building and Ming Lou, a palace-like structure built with a large tile roof in the past, but nowadays there are four walls left only. Bao Ding was the bedroom of the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and the Queen Ma. The top of the structure looks a hemisphere. Between 1998 and 1999, the Nanjing government's test has proven that the tombs of the Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and the Queen Ma are just beneath the Bao Ding.

The imperial mausoleums in Beijing, Hubei and Hebei were built following the design and scale of the Mingxiao Ling Mausoleum, to which was a tour de force of genius craftsmanship and also an outcome of maturity of China' s ancient culture and architecture.
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