Great Palace Gate


Also known as the 'Great Red Gate' (大红门, Dàhóngmén) for obvious reasons, this mighty portal sets a suitably awe-inspiring tone as the front door to the mausoleums of 13 sons of heaven. Originally, a wall running either side of the gate would have sealed off the whole valley from intruders. From here, the Spirit Way begins.

Only deceased emperors were permitted to travel through the middle of its three archways; emperors coming to worship at the tombs of their ancestors had to use the right-hand entrance.

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Nearby Beijing attractions

1. Divine Merit Stele Pavilion

0.37 MILES

Along the Spirit Way before you reach the pairs of stone guardians, this glorious pavilion contains a stele thought to be the largest in China, mounted on…

2. Spirit Way

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A highlight of a visit to the Ming Tombs is to walk the Shen Dao, or Spirit Way, a funerary avenue that plots a sombre course to Cháng Líng, the earliest…

3. Memorial Archway

0.78 MILES

With a magisterial spread of five marble arches 16m high and 35m wide, this is supposedly the largest stone páifāng (arched gate) in China, erected by the…

4. Ming Tombs

0.99 MILES

Established according to feng shui in the cradle of Tianshou Mountain (天寿山, Tiānshòu Shān), this auspicious swath of nature was walled off by the Ming to…

5. Dragon Phoenix Gate

1.09 MILES

Ornamental gate along the Spirit Way path at the Ming Tombs, adorned with a dragon symbolising the emperor and a phoenix for the empress.

6. Sī Líng

1.82 MILES

Si Ling is the tomb of the last of the Ming emperors, Chongzhen, who hanged himself at Coal Hill – today's Jingshan Park – as rebels stormed the gates of…

7. Zhāo Líng

2.94 MILES

The Longqing Emperor, 12th of the Ming Dynasty, only managed a six-year shift on the Dragon Throne before he was entombed here, along with three empresses…

8. Museum of the Ming Tombs

3.07 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…