In Changping County, northwest of Beijing, lie the tombs of thirteen Ming Dynasty Emperors who ruled China from 1368 to 1644.
As one approaches the area via the Spirit Way, or Avenue of the Animals, 24 wonderful Ming Dynasty sculptures of animals appear, each carved out of a single large piece of stone. There are 12 pairs of animals. Beyond the animals are 12 stone carvings of 4 fierce looking soldiers. 4 civil officials, and 4 scholars.
Coffins of emperors were carried to their final resting place in their tomb along this avenue.. When a Ming Emperor died all of his concubines were buried alive to serve him in the next world.
Emperor Yongle was buried in Changping in 1424 at the end of Spirit Way.
A model, with explanations in English, of the the entire site is displayed in the Palace of Sacrificing. This is the best preserved of all the tombs.
One of the three tombs open to the public is the mausoleum of Ming Dynasty Emperor Wanli. Jewelry, garments, porcelain, curios, and religious artifacts are on display in the museum.
A visit to a Great Wall site can easily be combined with a tour of the Ming
(China.org.cn August 20, 2003)