The Ming Tombs are located about 30 miles northwest of Beijing at the foot of the Tianshou Mountains. Located here are the tombs of 13 of the 16 Ming Dynasty emperors. Dragon Hill lies to the east and Crouching Tiger Hill to the west. The first emperor to be buried here was Yongle who died in 1424. His tomb, Chang Ling, and that of Emperor Zhu Yijun, Ding Ling, who died in 1620, are the only two opened to visitors today.

Emperor Yongle was significant in Chinese history as it was he who moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing after its reconstruction. He also made many changes to the institutional forms of the state founded by his father, the first Ming emperor. Yongle's tomb served as the model for the other tombs that followed. The Emperor and Empress were buried, as was the Chinese tradition, under a large mound in underground vaults.

One of the more impressive sights at the Ming Tombs is the Sacred Way. The Sacred Way runs for about a kilometer and is flanked on both sides by carvings of human and animal figures. There are 12 large stone human figures and 24 of animals, all carved from a single blocks of granite in 1435 during the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Xuan De.

Dragon headed Turtle Pavilion, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Dragon-headed Turtle Tablet Pavilion
We entered the area through the Dragon-headed Turtle Tablet pavilion. Inside was a large stone carving of a turtle with a dragon head and a Chinese tablet containing more than 1,000 Chinese characters.
Dragon headed Turtle, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Dragon-headed Turtle
Exiting the Dragon-headed Turtle Pavilion we had a choice of either riding along the Sacred Way or walking. You guessed it ... we chose to walk and, along the way, take pictures of the magnificent stone statues. Actually I took it upon myself to take a picture of each statue along the way, 36 of them, but I won't bore you by showing them all, just a select few to give you an idea of how beautiful and intricately carved they were.
Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Sacred Way with stone statues
Carvings along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Carvings along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Anne with a stone elephant along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Anne with the Elephant
It seems as though this elephant statue was a favorite photo op. Everyone took turns sitting on his leg and having their picture taken. Even me. However, when they took my picture they cut the elephant's head in half and missed my feet. Not a good shot!
Alicia resting on a stone elephant along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Alicia, collapsed, photo by John
Carvings along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Carvings along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
Carvings along the Sacred Way, Ming Tombs, Beijing
The statues along the Sacred Way were arranged in matching pairs facing each other
(as seen in the photo above right)
Continue to the next page for more pictures of the Ming Tombs ... no, not more pictures of the statues ...
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Welcome to our China 2001 Photo Album
Planning and Getting there: Grand Circle Tours and Northwest Airlines
Beijing : Arriving in Beijing | Tiananmen Square | The Imperial (Forbidden) Palace (1) | The Imperial Palace (2) | The Nine Sons of the Dragon
The Imperial Palace Garden | The Summer Palace | Summer Palace (2) | Summer Palace (3) | Summer Palace (4) | Local Beijing Market
Local Beijing Market (2) | Hutong | Bell Tower | Hutong Family, Dinner and the Opera | Cloisonné Factory | Ming Tombs | Ming Tombs (2)
Great Wall of China at Ba Da Ling | Temple of Heaven
Shanghai : Arriving Shanghai | Yuyuan Garden | Yuyuan Garden (2) | The Temple of the Jade Buddha | The Bund | Day Excursion to Suzhou
Silk Process | The Administrator's Garden of Suzhou | Shanghai Museum of Art
Cruising the Yangtze River : Yangtze Cruise, Day 1 | Yangtze Cruise, Day 2 | The Xiling and Wu Gorge | The Lesser Three Gorges
The Lesser Three Gorges (2) | The Qutang Gorge | Wanxian | The Last Day of Cruising | Regal China Cruise Lines
Chongqing : Chongqing
Xi'an : Xi'an and Emperor Qin's Terracotta Warriors | Emperor's Qin's Terracotta Warriors (2) | Great Wild Goose Pagoda and Xi'an City Wall
Quilin : The Limestone Peaks of the Li River | The Limestone Peaks of the Li River (2) | Guilin and the Childrens Park | Children's Park (2) and Reed Flute Cave
The Hotels: Hotels, rail and air travel in China
Hong Kong : Victoria Peak, Repulse Bay and Aberdeen Fishing Village | Hong Kong at Sunset | Hong Kong Bird & Flower Market
| New Territories Fishing Village | Hong Kong Farewell Dinner
Bangkok : Jim Thompson House and Golden Buddha | The Flower Market | The Food Vendors | Grand Palace | Mystical Figures | Brightly Painted Masks on Mystical Figures
Golden Mystical Figures | Buildings of the Grand Palace | Lunching at the Shangri La Hotel | Loy Nava Rice Barge Cruise | Ayutthaya, Ancient Capital of Siam
Wat Yai Chai Mongkol and the Reclining Buddha | Bang Pa In, The Summer Palace |

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