Cháng Líng


It's no coincidence that the most magnificent of the Ming tombs bears more than a passing resemblance to the Forbidden City. It was commissioned by the same emperor, Yongle (1360–1424), the great builder of Beijing, and follows the same blueprint of imperial gates, halls and courtyards increasing in stature to the Hall of Eminent Favours (祾恩殿, Líng’ēn Diàn), mounted on a triple-tiered marble terrace exactly like the Forbidden City's Hall of Supreme Harmony. The unpainted interior, with its towering nánmù (cedar wood) columns, is breathtaking.

The purpose of the Ling’en Dian at imperial tombs was to allow visiting emperors and officials to pay tribute to the tomb occupant, even dining with the spirits on a lavish spread of dishes arranged on silk-covered tables.

Beyond lie a further set of gates leading to the Soul Tower (明楼, Míng Lóu), which fronts the vast burial mound, as yet unexcavated, encircled by a fortified wall (宝成, bǎo chéng). As with all three tombs open to visitors, you can climb the Soul Tower and circumnavigate the mound for fine views of the surrounding hills.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Beijing attractions

1. Xiàn Líng

0.44 MILES

The tomb of the Hongxi Emperor (1378–1425), the second emperor to be buried at the Ming Tombs after Yongle in Chang Ling next door. Not open for visitors.

2. Jǐng Líng

0.51 MILES

The tomb of the Xuande Emperor, who died in 1435. It's not open for visitors, but you can walk here from Chang Ling in 15 minutes, and peer in at the…

3. Qìng Líng

0.72 MILES

The tomb of the Taichang Emperor, one of the last emperors to be interred at the Ming Tombs. The road here actually passes through the grounds of the…

4. Yŏng Líng

0.96 MILES

The tomb of the Jiajing Emperor (1507–1567). Not open for visitors.

5. Yù Líng

1.08 MILES

The tomb of the Zhengtong Emperor (1427–1442), who famously became emperor twice. Captured by the Mongols after a disastrous military campaign, he was…

6. Dé Líng

1.26 MILES

The tomb of Tianqi, the 15th and penultimate Ming emperor. Not open for visitors.

7. Mào Líng

1.29 MILES

The 15th-century tomb of the Chenghua Emperor. Not open for visitors.

8. Museum of the Ming Tombs

1.35 MILES

Housed in several buildings at Dìng Líng, some of which were closed for renovation at time of research, this museum displays a selection of items…