17 August 1999 Tuesday
Situated in a small basin in north Changping County, northwest of Beijing. Shisanling???? (Ming Tombs) are the burial sites of thirteen out of sixteen emperors in Ming Dynasty (the other three emperors, Zhu Yuanzhang was buried in Nanjing, known as Xiaoling; Zhu Yun’s burial place is unknown; Zhu Qiyu’s tomb is in Jinshan Hill in the western suburbs of Beijing). The basin is screened by Jundu Mountain ranges on its west, north and east, thus forming a natural gateway on the south facing Beijing Plain. This gateway is “defended” on each side by Dragon and Tiger Hills, which are said to protect this sacred area from winds carrying evil influences. The basin is converged by tributaries of the upper reaches of Wenyu River and offers picturesque scenery.
To the mausoleum area, visitors first pass by a stone archway which is quite impressive with five arches and six pillars all in marble. A little further down the way stands Dagong Gate to marks the beginning of the Divine Road leading to the entrance of the Changling Tomb. Continuing on , one comes to the Stele pavilion and the Flowery Pillar. These are followed by the famous road lined with 24 white stone animals in various poses as well as 12 statues of men. Beyond these human statues is Lingxing Gate, otherwise known as Longfeng (Dragon and Phoenix) Gate. Continuing north to the Changling Tomb, the Diving Road passes across a 7-Arch Bridge under which the Wenyu River is flowing through and then into Shisanling Reservoir. Another more 4 kilometres north, you will arrive at the Changling tomb which lies at the foot of Tianshou Hill. Other tombs are scattered along the two sides of Changling Tomb.
Surrounded by pines and cypresses, each tomb has, in general, Ling’en Gate, Ling’en Hall. Tombstone Tower, Treasure City and an underground place where the coffins of the emperor and his wives are placed together with the funerary objects.
Now the places that tourists must not fail to see are the Ling’en Hall in Changling Tomb; Underground Palace and Museum of Dingling Tomb and the Shisanling Reservoir. The Ling’en Hall was built in 1427, the second year of Emperor Xuan De’s reign of Ming Dynasty. It has a total dimension of 1,956 square metres and its shape closely matches that of the Taihe Hall in the Forbidden City. Resting on a triple-tiered terrace of white stone, the structure was built entirely of phoebe nanmu. In the hall, four giant wooden columns and 28 smaller pillars support this structure. The four larger columns are 14.3 metres tall and 1.17 metres in diameters, and are extraordinary for the fact that they are each a single trunk of phoebe nanmu.
????The Great Wall
The Great Wall, which is composed of fortresses, walls ,terraces and beacon towers, runs 6,700 kilometers across five provinces. It was constructed in the Warring States Period of the 5th century B.C. by three states, Yan, Zhao and Qin, as a defense against each other and against the nomadic tribes further north. After Qin Shihuang unified China in the 3rd century B.C., the existing sections of the Great Wall were linked and extented. The subsequent Han, Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties continued to strengthen and extend the wall.
Today’s Great Wall in size, condition and location is the Ming reconstruction. That such an immense engineering project could be accomplished over high mountains and difficult terrain at a time of less advanced technology makes the Great Wall truly a wonder of world architectural history. It is also the longest defence wall in the world.
The fortresses of the Great Wall, including the important Juyongguan at Badaling, are enclosed by several successive walls. Situated at strategic passes , they garrisoned troops and served as headquarters. Badaling (Eight Thoroghfare Peaks) is the vital communication line for south-north travellers.
The Great Wall , averaging seven to eight meters in width, is crowned by battlements. Beyond the wall at regular intervals are beacon towers , mostly standing on hilltops or easily visible sites, which formed a communication system by transmitting messages through signals of smoke or fire to the capital and the major garrisons.