Dingling Underground Palace
The Dingling Underground Palace unveiled in 1956,
was the 1st of the 13 Ming imperial tombs to be officially opened
to the public. The tombs can be found on the southern slopes of
the Tianshou Mountains 48km (30 miles) to the northwest of Beijing.
Emperor Wanli (1563-1620) and his 2 empresses were
buried at Dingling at his death. Emperor Wanli reigned for 48 years,
the longest of all the Ming emperors and his tomb is definitely
the most extravagant - the tomb was built over a period of six years
by some 30,000 workers, and the equivalent of 2 years of national
land tax revenues was spent on construction.
The tomb is 27 meters (89ft) below the ground and covers an
area of 1,195 sq meters. It consists of 5 rooms connected by giant
marble archways and floors paved by a highly polished stone known
as "gold bricks". The central hall has 3 marble imperial
thrones and offerings made of yellow glazed pottery. The rear hall
is the most important and impressive, it contains 3 platforms used
to support the coffins of the Emperor and his wives and was surrounded
by 26 red lacquer chests filled with valuables made from gold, silver,
jade and porcelain. In addition, sacred objects of jade and porcelain
were placed around these chests.
These and some of the other 3,000 objects unearthed
from this palace are on display in the 2 exhibition halls. The objects
include the emperor's crown and robes and the empresses?robes,
jewels and phoenix tiaras.