Finding an appropriate place to build structures, funerary or otherwise, has long been viewed as an important aspect of wisdom and art in China, but this was especially true with the location of even the most humble tomb. The ancient Chinese felt the position of emperors would affect the fate of the whole nation. The philosophy is perfectly exemplified by locations used for placing the imperial tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Imperial tombs in Beijing refer the Ming Tombs built during the Ming Dynasty (1318-1614) located at the foot of Heavenly Longevity Hill in Changping District and the Jin Tombs Heritage (1115- 1234) at the root of Nine Dragon Mountain in Fangshan District.
The Ming Tombs
50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lies the Ming Tombs - the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). The mausoleums have been perfectly preserved, as has the necropolis of each of the many emperors. Because of its long history, palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value. The layout and arrangement of all thirteen mausoleums are very similar, but vary in size as well as in the complexity of their structures.
It was originally built only as Changling, the tomb of Emperor Zhu Di and his empresses. This is the most magnificent of the tombs. The succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling.
Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public. Changling, the chief of the Ming Tombs, is the largest in scale and is completely preserved. The total internal area of the main building is 1956 square meters. There are 32 huge posts, the largest measuring about 14 meters in height. It entombs Emperor Zhudi, the fourth son of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Travel China Guide recommends the Ling'en Palace in its second yard as really deserving a visit. This is unique, as it is the only huge palace made of camphor wood. It covers about 1956 square meters. The ceiling is colorfully painted and supported by sixteen solid camphor posts. The floor was decorated with gold bricks.
Unlike Changling, Dingling is underground and about 27 meters deep. It is the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yijun, the thirteenth emperor who occupied the throne the longest during the Ming Dynasty, and his two empresses. The main features are the Stone Bridge, Soul Tower, Baocheng and the Underground Palace, which was unearthed between 1956 and 1958. The entire palace is made of stone. The Soul Tower is symbolic of the whole of Dingling and forms the entrance to the underground chambers. The yellow glazed tiles, eaves, archway, rafters and columns are all sculptured from stone, and colorfully painted. The entire construction is stable and beautiful!
Served by three stone doors, it is divided into three Halls consisting of five high palaces - the front, the middle, the rear, the left, and the right palaces. The Gate of the Tomb, the Gate of Eminent Favor and the Lingxing Gate all possess the same structural form. (visitingbeijing.com.cn)