Sun Yatsen Mausoleum

Top choice memorial in Nanjing

Image by Zhang Peng LightRocket via Getty Images

An astonishing sight at the top of an enormous stone stairway (a breathless 392 steps), Sun Yatsen's tomb is a mandatory stop for Chinese visitors. Reverentially referred to as guófù (国父; Father of the Nation), Dr Sun is esteemed by both communists and Kuomintang. He died in Běijīng in 1925, and had wished to be buried in Nánjīng, no doubt with far less pomp than the Ming-style tomb his successors fashioned for him. Within a year of his death, however, construction of this mausoleum began.

At the start of the path stands a dignified marble gateway, capped with a roof of blue-glazed tiles. The blue and white of the mausoleum symbolise the white sun on the blue background of the Kuomintang flag.

The crypt lies at the top of the steps at the rear of the memorial chamber. A tablet hanging across the threshold is inscribed with the ‘Three Principles of the People’, as formulated by Dr Sun: nationalism, democracy and people’s livelihood. Inside is a statue of a seated Dr Sun (who is better known to the Chinese as Sun Zhongshan, rather than Sun Yatsen). The walls are carved with the complete text of the 'Outline of Principles for the Establishment of the Nation' put forward by the Nationalist government. A prostrate marble statue of Dr Sun seals his copper coffin.

Shuttle buses (¥5) resembling red steam trains speed to and from the Línggǔ Temple Scenic Area.