About The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum
The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum (Ming Xiao Ling) is the burial site of the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang. The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum was built in the course of the emperor’s life and completed in 1405, seven years after his death.
Located in the Purple Mountains or “Zĭjīn Shān” it is the only Ming Dynasty tomb in the area. The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum is an impressive site, yet it would have been all the more imposing in its heyday, most of it having been destroyed in the Taiping Revolution.
The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum history
The construction of the mausoleum began during the Hongwu Emperor’s life in 1381 and ended in 1405, during the reign of his son the Yongle Emperor, with a huge expenditure of resources involving 100,000 labourers. The mausoleum was built under heavy guard of 5,000 troops.
In 1384, Queen Ma died and was buried there. Emperor Chengzu had bestowed upon her the title ‘Queen of Xiao Ci’ which means ‘Queen of Filial Piety and Kindness.’ Hence, the name Xiaoling derives from her title.
The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum is one of the biggest imperial tombs in China and is renowned for its unique design, its eminent status, its amazing beauty and its magnificent scale. It is considered a milestone in the historical development of Chinese mausoleums. As an extension of the ‘Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties’, it is listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is around 2.62 km deep and 2.62 wide, then the main mausoleum buildings were surrounded by a red wall with a 2.25 km long perimeter. Having gone through 600 years of change, many wooden structures inside buildings were destroyed. The layout of the tomb and the pattern of the buildings still remain the original grand style and the underground palace of the tomb is intact.
Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty has two discreet sections: One is the Sacred Way area and the other is the main body of the mausoleum itself.
The Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum today
Today, visitors can tour the tomb complex, seeing statues and monuments such as the Shengong Shengde Stele together with memorial tablets.
The area surrounding the tomb is the Ming Xiaoling Scenic Area. A tree-lined pathway winds around pavilions and picnic grounds and ends at scenic Zixia Lake, ideal for strolling. A combo ticket for the tomb and the Linggu Temple Scenic Area is ¥100.
Getting to the Hongwu Emperor Mausoleum
The nearest metro station is Muxuyuan, on Line 2, which is a 1.6km walk from the site. Tour bus Y3 from the city centre also takes visitors here.