The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum - History and Facts | History Hit

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

Nanjing City, Jiangsu, China

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is the site of the tomb of the founding father of the Republic of China.

Peta Stamper

10 May 2021

About The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (Zongshan Ling) near Nanjing is the grand final resting place of the first leader of the Republic of China. Sun Yat-sen took a leading role in overthrowing the Qing Dynasty and establishing the republic, then becoming its first president in 1912. However, he was removed from office soon afterwards.

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is vast and impressive. Nestled in the Purple Mountains, it is reached by 392 steps and has a striking blue-tiled roof. Inside, the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum houses the body of the ‘Father of the Nation’ together with several statues depicting him.

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum history

Sun Yat-sen was born in GUangdong province in China in 1866 and died in Beijing in 1925. On 23 April 1929, the Chinese government chose He Yingqin to lay Dr Sun to rest. In May, the coffin departed from Beijing and arrived in Nanjing where Dr Sun was buried. Considered the ‘Father of Modern China’ in both China and Taiwan, having ended the Qing Imperial Dynasty and founded the Republic of China.

In May of 1925, a competition was advertised in newspapers to design a mausoleum fit for Sun Yat-sen. The guidelines said that the design must be in traditional Chinese style yet also a special modern creativity. The designed chosen was Lu Yanzhi, and his design was completed in 1929.

Lu Yanzhi’s mausoleum reclined on a mountain slope, blending features from the traditional imperial tombs and modern architecture. The vault was more than 700 metres from the entrance arch in the square below, engraved with the words of Sun Yat-sen, “What is under heaven is for all”. Leading up to the mausoleum were 392 stairs lined by pine, cypress and ginkgo trees.

Sun Yat-sen’s body was interred in a burial chamber 5 metres below the marble faux sarcophagus, in a bronze coffin.

The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum today

If you are willing to make the long climb up to the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum, then reaching the top is well worth the effort (although there are benches dotted along the climb in case you get tired). Not only are visitors rewarded with a great view of the Purple Mountains, but with the imposing structure of Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum with its blue and white detailing reflecting the colours of the Kuomintang flag.

There are several English interpretive signs at the site. Be advised that it can also get very busy at the mausoleum as it is a popular and significant Chinese historic site, and photography is not allowed.

Getting to The Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

The easiest way to reach the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum is via the metro, stopping at Muxuyuan station. Otherwise, you could get a taxi there or use one of the multiple bus stops at the entrance that can take you from and back to central Nanjing.

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