Great Palace Gate

Gate in Ming Tombs

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.