Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty

Stone Elephants in the Sacred Way
Stone Elephants in the Sacred Way
 Pictures of Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty (Mingxiaoling) is one of the biggest imperial tombs in China. It lies in the eastern suburbs of Nanjing City at the southern foot of Purple Mountain. Emperor Chengzu, Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Queen Ma were buried there.

Xiaoling Mausoleum is renowned for its unique design, its eminent status, its amazing beauty and its magnificent scale. It's the milestone in the historical development of Chinese mausoleums. As an extension of the 'Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it is listed by UNESCO as a world cultural heritage site.

Construction of the Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty began in 1381 and was completed in 1431. In 1384, Queen Ma died and was buried there. Emperor Chengzu had bestowed upon her the title 'Queen of Xiao Ci' which means 'Queen of Filial Piety and Kindness.' Hence, the name Xiaoling derives from her title.

Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty has two discreet sections: One is the Sacred Way area and the other is the main body of the mausoleum itself.

Sacred Way

At the entrance to Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, you will see the Dismounting Archway. As a gesture of deep respect, visitors would discount their horses and sedans at this point. Not far from the entrance is the Tablet Pavilion called Si Fang Cheng. Here a majestic tablet was erected by order of Emperor Zhu Di, the fourth son of Zhu Yuanzhang, to eulogize his father's merits and virtues. The tablet is carried by Bixi, a legendary animal in the shape of a tortoise.

Walking northwesterly across the bridge, you will see the winding 1,800-meter (1.1 miles) long Sacred Way in Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty. Its middle section runs east-west and is called Shi Xiang Road. It is lined with several pairs of stone sculptured animals guarding the tomb. Each animal is postured differently and each conveys an auspicious meaning. For example, the lions, king of the animals, show the stateliness of the emperors, the camels, symbol of desert and tropical areas, indicate the vast territory of the dynasty and the elephants imply that the policies of the dynasty are to meet the desire of the grass root and the stabilization of the dynasty.
Stone Lion in the Sacred Way
Stone Lion in the Sacred Way
Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, Nanjing
Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, Nanjing

Beyond the animals is a pair of decorative columns called Hua Biao that are carved with dragons. From here the Sacred Way turns into a north-south direction and becomes known at Weng Zhong Road. This location is marked by stone carved statues of ministers and generals. Different from the straight sacred ways in the former dynasties, the Sacred Way at Xiaoling Mausoleum goes in different directions making it unique and unprecedented in Chinese history.

Tablet carried by Bixi, a leganday animal
Tablet carried by Bixi, 
a leganday animal

Main Body of Xiaoling Mausoleum

Continuing north along the Sacred Way, you will reach the main body of Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty. There you will start from the Golden Water Bridge (Jin Shui Qiao) and arrive at the main gate named Wen Wu Archway. Outside the gate, there is a stone tablet with words carved in six languages notifying visitors of the importance of the mausoleum.You next arrive at the Xiao Ling Hall, the main structure of the mausoleum. It was rebuilt in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and was smaller in size than the original. Figures of Emperor Chengzu and Queen Ma are hanging inside on the wall.

There are also a variety of sculptures depicting various scenes like the 'Two Dragons Playing with the Pearl', 'the Heavenly Horses Flying in the Sky' and 'the Blazing Sun over the Country'. Then you will come to Fang Cheng (a castle-like building) and Ming Lou (a structure built in palace style with four walls left only). They are both innovations of the Ming Dynasty. The last part is Bao Cheng that looks like a massif and the tomb of Emperor Chengzu and Queen Ma is just beneath.

How to get to Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty

1. Take Metro line 2 to Muxuyuan, and leave from Exit 1. Walk north fpr 20 minutes to get there.
2. Take bus 20, 315, or G5 to Mingxiaoling (Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty).
Nanjing Bus / Metro Search

Entrance Fee CNY 70
Opening Hours Mar. - Nov.: 6:30 - 18:30
Dec. - Feb. next year: 7:00 - 17:30
Ming Xiaoling Museum: 9:00 - 17:00

The nearby attraction sites Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum and Linggu Temple are easily to reach from Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty by sightseeing bus, battery car or small train. The sightseeing bus, small train and battery car ticket is CNY 10 per person, and the tourist special line costs CNY 2 for a single trip.

 Further Reading
Plum Blossom Hill

Further Reading:
Top 10 Things to Do in Nanjing

12 Best Places to Visit in Nanjing

- Last updated on Apr. 08, 2021 -
Questions & Answers on Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty
Asked by Boon from THAILAND | Aug. 19, 2019 00:50Reply
For seeing colorful autumn, in Nanjing, where are the places don't miss and when?
Answers (2)
Answered by Elma from UKRAINE | Aug. 21, 2019 02:52

Qixia Mountain, Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty and Zhongshan Scenic Area are recommended places to see the colorful autumn in the city.
Answered by Boon from THAILAND | Aug. 21, 2019 03:41

Thanks Elma.
Asked by SHAMIMHOSSAIN | Apr. 10, 2019 19:37Reply
I want to visit Nanjing for 5 nights. can you suggest a good plan?
Answers (1)
Answered by Arien from POLAND | Apr. 12, 2019 00:19

You can tour around the city in the following way:
Day 1: Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Linggu Temple, Xinjiekou Area
Day 2: Xuanwu Lake, Jiming Temple
Day 3: Mochou Lake Park, The Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre, Rain Flower Terrace (Yuhuatai), Zhonghua Gate
Day 4: Yangtze River Bridge, Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao)
Day 5: Purple Mountain
Asked by Fran C from GERMANY | Oct. 22, 2018 19:40Reply
Sightseeing bus at Nanjing Purple Mountain
It is mentioned that there is a sightseeing bus for 10RMB. Is this a hop-on, hop-off bus? How do I differentiate between the bus for single ride at 2 RMB?
Thanks Fran
Answers (2)
Answered by Jason from USA | Oct. 23, 2018 18:31

Yes, there is a sightseeing bus for CNY10 that you can hop on and off on the way. Don't worry and the sightseeing bus looks line a cartoon train and it is easy to differentiate with the normal bus.
Answered by Fran from GERMANY | Oct. 24, 2018 03:06

Thanks Jason. I already went there! 😁 There was only the tourist tram for 10RMB per ride. The all-day ticket for unlimited rides costs 50 RMB.
Asked by dale from USA | Jun. 30, 2014 20:33Reply
What are the opening and closong hours at Xiaoling Mausoleum of Ming Dynasty in Nanjing?
Answers (8)
Answered by Ellen from HK | Jul. 01, 2014 01:43

opening hours: 06:30 - 18:00
Answered by DALE from USA | Jul. 10, 2014 18:32

Are you certain of this?? Lonely Planet says it opens at 8am.not 6:30 ??
Answered by Molly from AUSTRALIA | Jul. 11, 2014 04:12

According to the official website, the opening time is around 09:00 to 17:00. Hope it helps ~
Answered by dale from USA | Jul. 11, 2014 06:01

Thanks. Can you please post the link to the website? I cant fond it online.
Answered by Molly | Jul. 11, 2014 22:09

Hi, Dale. It is no use to give your the website link, because the website is in Chinese version. My friend is Chinese, so she tells me the opening time on the Chinese website. It is a pity and sorry for that.
Answered by DALE from USA | Jul. 13, 2014 07:05

That's OK. If you can get a link.please post it.Thank you
Answered by Juno from USA | Jul. 13, 2014 19:43

But Ellen seems right. The opening hours of the mausoleum are from 06:30 to 18:00. Nearby there is a museum for the mausoleum, whose operating hours are from 09:00 to 17:00. You may mix them.
Answered by DALE from USA | Jul. 14, 2014 05:16

Can someone post the link please,even if it is in Chinese.
Asked by Jillian from UNITED KINGDOM | Feb. 25, 2014 14:54Reply
Is it easy to travel between the Nanjing railway station and the Xiaoling mausoleum?
Answers (1)
Answered by Emma from PHILIPPINES | Feb. 25, 2014 20:04

Yes, it is very easy.
From the railway station to the Xiaoling Mausoleum, there is about 7km. So the easiest method is to take a taxi to reach the site directly.
The other method is using local public transportation.
If you want, you are advised to walk out of the railway station from East Exit. Then you can walk to Panlong Road to find the bus line 36 (the stop is close to the office of China Post). You take the bus line 36 to reach Gangzicun (岗子村). Then you can walk several steps at Gangzicun Stop to find the Toursim Bus Line 3 to reach Xiaoling Mausoleum directly.
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