Hours: 8am-6pm daily
Address: south face of Purple Mountain
Price: 70-80 Yuan/ticket
Lying on the west side of the southern foot of Purple Mountain (Zijin Shan, 紫金山), the Ming Tomb Scenic Area contains the Ming Tomb as well as Purple Cloud Lake and Plum Blossom Hill.
Note: There are many different English translations of ’明孝陵’, including “Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum,” “Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty,” “Ming Xiaoling,” “Xiaoling Tomb,” and “Ming Tomb.” We will call it the “Ming Tomb” to keep it simple, but keep in mind that you may come across the other translations.
Nanjing became the capital of China when Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368. During his reign, Zhu Yuanzhang built the great city walls of Nanjing, the imperial palace, and his future tomb - the Ming Tomb in Nanjing. The Ming Tomb is a certified UNESCO World Heritage Site and is a must-see for travellers to Nanjing.
Leading up to the impressive Ming Tower is the long, winding “sacred path”. You will also pass other impressive structures including Square City (built in 1413), Imperial Tablet Hall (1699), and the Sacrificial Palace (1383). The first two legs of the path are lined with pairs of stone statues of lions, camels, elephants, unicorns, xiezhi, and kylin as well as four pairs of ministers and generals who have accompanied the buried majesty in perpetuity.
Zhu Yuanzhang and his wife are actually not buried in the tower (which is why it is called a tower and not a mausoleum). Instead they are buried behind it in the treasure mound – a forested hill that is surrounded by a 7 meter high, 1000 meter long circular wall of bricks.
Plum Blossom Hill
Plum Blossom Hill takes its name from the pink plum blossoms that blanket the hill when they are in bloom. To the south of Plum Blossom Hill across the sacred avenue are Plum Blossom Valley and a youth hostel.
Purple Cloud Lake
Purple Cloud Lake is an ideal spot to spend an afternoon relaxing outdoors. Not suprisingly, “No Swim” signs lining the edge of the lake are no deterrence to many locals that enjoy the waters. That being said, it should be known that many people have drowned in the lake’s deep waters.
How To Get There
The Ming Tomb area is quite easy to locate. It is a good starting place from which to move on towards the hiking trails further up the mountain and to other tourist attractions located along the south face of Purple Mountain.
Bus #20, 游1 (travel 1, you 1), 游2 and 游3 all stop at several locations bordering the Ming Tomb scenic area. The Square City bus stop is the best place to start a scenic walk up the sacred path towards the Ming Tower. The bus stations on the east of the scenic area are convenient for leaving the area or for reaching other sections of Purple Mountain.
Unknown to most, there is actually a way to get to Ming Tomb area from a path above. This path splits off from the hiking trail that connects the observatory with the mountain top. See the Purple Mountain article for more info.
On the final leg of the path up to the Ming Tower there is a shop that sells excellent detailed maps of the entire Ming Tomb area.
Tours that go to Ming Tomb, Plum Blossom Hill and Purple Cloud Lake