The Imperial Xiaoling Mausoleum in Nanjing, the capital of East China’s Jiangsu Province, celebrated its 17th anniversary of being listed as a world cultural heritage site on July 3. (Photos: CNS)
The over 600-year-old imperial tomb, the burial site of the Ming Dynasty’s (1368-1644) founder Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, occupies an area of some 1.7 million square meters and is acknowledged to be one of the largest imperial mausoleums in China.
It took almost 25 years from 1381 to 1405 to build the mausoleum, which represents the highest achievement of the architecture and plastic arts of the early Ming Dynasty.
The mausoleum is over 2,600 meters long and has about 30 buildings and stonework structures with different styles and functions, along a path from the entrance to the underground palace.
The main part of the Xiaoling Mausoleum has been well preserved and never suffered from robbery due to its special anti-theft design and geographic position.
It is said that Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang was obsessed with his empress, so he spent great amount of money and time to design and build this mausoleum where he could live with her even after death.
After the subversion of Ming Dynasty, many of its adherents worshipped the mausoleum to express their loyalty and respect to the rulers of the Ming Dynasty.
The Imperial Xiaoling Mausoleum from a bird's-eye view.
The Imperial Xiaoling Mausoleum was listed as a world cultural heritage in 2003 and became one of the most frequently-visited scenic spots in Nanjing after being listed as a top-level tourist attraction in 2006.