Cháng Líng

Tomb in Ming Tombs

The resting place of the first of the 13 emperors to be buried at the Ming Tombs, Cháng Líng contains the body of Emperor Yongle (1402–24), his wife and 16 concubines. It's the largest, most impressive and most important of the tombs. Like all the tombs it follows a standard imperial layout, with a main gate (祾恩门; líng’ēn mén) leading to the first of a series of courtyards and the main hall (棱恩殿; líng’ēn diàn).

Beyond this lie gates leading to the Soul Tower (明楼; Míng Lóu), behind which rises the burial mound surrounded by a fortified wall (宝成; bǎo chéng). Seated upon a three-tiered marble terrace, the standout structure in this complex is the Hall of Eminent Favours (灵恩殿; Líng’ēn Diàn), containing a recent statue of Yongle, various artefacts excavated from Dìng Líng, and a breathtaking interior with vast nánmù (cedar wood) columns. As with all three tombs here, you can climb the Soul Tower at the back of the complex for fine views of the surrounding hills.