The Ming Tombs

Tour Day Four: Tuesday, April 24, 2001

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This is the Dragon-Headed Turtle Tablet Pavilion.

The Ming Tombs lie at the foot of the Tianshou Mountains, about 32 miles northwest of Beijing, in a small basin covering an area of approximately 25 sq. miles. Protecting the south entrance are Dragon Hill and Crouching Tiger Hill. The Mings thought that it was essential to have the foot of a grave facing water and the head toward a hill or mountain, so this valley was a perfect setting, for a river coursed through the central valley. The tombs of 13 Ming emperors were located here. The Entire area of tombs was originally surrounded by a wall with its main entrance at the southern end. During the 200-year construction period of the necropolis this was a forbidden area and it was heavily guarded. The Ming Dynasty lasted from 1368 to 1644.

In early 1956, The Chinese Government began a 2-year excavation of Dingling Underground Palace. More than 3,000 pieces of gold, silver, pearl, jade, garments, and decorations were unearthed. They determined that more excavations would damage the antiquities, so no more excavations are planned. The Ming Tombs were officially opened to the public in 1959. It is most noted for the magnificent buildings of Changling and the Dingling Underground Palace. The Ming Tombs has become a scenic spot for the Chinese and foreign tourists.

Those interested in Chinese history may want to follow this link to a Timeline of Chinese History. This is of great help in sorting out the different dynasties that are frequently mentioned. The time line links to articles on the different periods.

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This decorative column graces the park right of the walkway as you approach the Dragon-Headed Turtle Tablet Pavilion from the parking lot.

The inscription on the tablet in the pavilion ahead runs to more than 1,000 characters.

Below: The Dragon-Headed Turtle grins at us as we pass through the pavilion named for him.

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Renee Ho, our Pacific Delight tour guide begins her walk on
the Sacred Way.

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Page last updated June 5, 2001.