About Zhonghua Gate
Zhonghua Gate, also known as ‘Men Chengbao’ and the ‘Gate of China’ is the vast city gate of Nanjing in China which dates back to the reign of Hongwu, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1398). At that time, the gate formed part of Nanjing’s 33 kilometre long city walls.
Today, the Zhonghua Gate has the distinction of being the largest castle-style gate in China and is part of the most complicated castle in the world.
Zhonghua Gate history
With its thick walls, large arched entrance tunnels and inner courtyards designed to trap any enemy who dared to try to the breach this fortification, the Zhonghua Gate was an essential defensive structure. In fact, nobody ever tried to attack this gate, perhaps a testament to its imposing nature.
According to the gate’s founding legend, when the first Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang had the gate first built from 1366, the ground kept sinking causing the gate to collapse. It was not until a bowl of treasure was buried underneath the gate that it stood firm.
The Zhonghua Gate was built on top of an earlier gate, there since the Later Tang Dynasty (between 923 and 936), although the newer structure was far more complex and featured three closed courtyards which could trap enemies in if they broke through the doors. Nanjing was the capital of China during the Ming Dynasty under Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, although his son Zhu Di moved the capital to Beijing in 1420.
Zhonghua Gate today
Today, the Zhonghua Gate is a popular tourist attraction with a small museum inside and the ability to walk around its walls and battlements. Some of the most interesting aspects of the Zhonghua Gate are its incredible ramparts, which allowed soldiers easy access to its peak, and the bricks themselves which were signed by their creators, offering a glimpse into the past.
Getting to Zhonghua Gate
Getting to Zhonghua Gate via public transport is easy: you can get Metro Line 1 to Zhonghuamen directly or take buses 2, 16, 49, 63, 202, 302, 701, 706, D18 or G5 to Zhonghuamen Chengbao.