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Sacred Way

The Scared Way, affiliated with the Ming Tombs, is a main road leading to all the tombs in this area. The road, seven kilometers (4.3 miles) long, has a stone memorial arch, Great Red Gate (Dahongmen), a stele pavilion, stone statues and the Dragon and Phoenix Gate (Longfengmen).

7-kilometer-long Sacred Way, Beijing

The stone memorial arch serves as a preface to the divine way. Built in 1540 A.C. during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 A.C.), the arch is the largest and earliest of its kind. The arch, 14 meters (46 feet) high and 29 meters (95 feet) wide, has six poles and five archways. Designs of kylins (a legendary mascot), lions, dragons and mythical beasts are gracefully embossed on its surface.

The Great Red Gate with three archways is the main gate of the whole imperial cemetery. A stele stands on each side of the gate with an inscription reading 'Officials must dismount from horses', which demonstrates the supremacy of the imperial power.

Ancient sacred elephant in Sacred Way of Beijing

Further on, visitors will find a stele pavilion. At the four corners of the pavilion, there are four tall marble columns towering about ten meters (32.8 feet). Each column is engraved with forty-one dragons and has a mythical beast sitting on the top. As the story goes, the beasts facing south remind the emperor to leave the palace to observe the people's situation; while the beasts facing north summon the emperor from an insignificant outing to return to handle state affairs. Inside the pavilion, a gigantic stone beast called Bixi (one of legendary dragon's nine sons) carries on its back a stele. The stele is named the 'Merits and Virtue Stele' and has long epigraphs inscribed on it.

A Stone Statue leading to Ming Tombs, Beijing

Behind the stele pavilion, the road is guarded by eighteen pairs of stone creatures. These creatures includes twelve pairs of different animals like lions, horses, elephants, camels and other fabulous beasts, and six pairs of human beings like generals, officials and meritorious ministers. The figurines signify that the dead emperor still presides over everything. Some of the larger figurines were hauled here with great difficulty. In winter, water was splashed on the roads to form an ice layer over the roads, thus allowing the huge statues to be slid over the slippery ice.

To the north of these figurines follow the Dragon and Phoenix Gate which marks the end of the Sacred Way.

Admission Fee:
CNY 30
April 1-October 31
CNY 20
November 1-March 31
Opening Hours:
08:30-18:00
Bus Route:
345 Kuai (345快), 914, 919 Zhi 1 (919支1), 925 Qu (925区), 949 to Changping Dongguan (昌平东关), and then transfer to Bus No.314 to Nanxincun (Nanxin Village, 南新村), and then you could walk to the Sacred Way (神路).

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