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Sacred Way

The Sacred Way

The Ming Tombs are a major historical site in Beijing, the resting place for 13 Emperors of the Ming Dynasty. This site has been listed as a precious cultural relic under state protection.

The Sacred Way (or Spirit Path) leads to the Ming Tombs, and is lined on either side with stone statues of animals and officials, and bordered by willows and attractive plants. These all have cultural and mythical significance for the approach to the Imperial Tombs.  It starts with the enormous Stone Archway, the biggest stone archway of its kind in China, dating from the 16th century, carved and embossed with many animals and mythical beasts.  The Scarlet Gate is the main gate for the entire cemetery, and includes a monument carved with the words that officials are required to dismount from their horses here, as an example of the supreme imperial power.

Along the way you will encounter other buildings such as the stele pavilion, with its central pillar carried on the back of a giant carved tortoise, and some nice views.  The whole road is very attractive at any time of the year, and the Dragon and Phoenix Gate leads into the area of the complex where the tombs are located.