The compound known as the Western Qing Tombs is a group of mausoleums of royalty of the Qing Dynasty. It is considered to be among the most valuable and significant collections of ancient Chinese mausoleums and takes its place as one of the most important markers of Chinese history. In addition to its cultural value the site is of great natural beauty, attracting a multitude of local as well as foreign tourists.
The compound lies at the base of the lofty green Yongning Mountain and encompasses an area of approximately 800 sq km. The region is noted for its thousands of ancient but still imposing pine trees. The tomb complex itself is esteemed for its unique designs and intricate decorations much of which has stood the test of time.
In total the compound contains fourteen mausoleums where no less than 78 members of royalty are entombed. These encompass four Qing Dynasty emperors, their empresses, princes and princesses as well as imperial concubines and royal servants. The structure of the tomb complex clearly displays the hierarchical order of the feudal society, with pride of place going to the emperors’ tombs which are the largest. These are followed in size and importance by the tombs of the empresses, imperial concubines and the others. Additionally the emperors’ and their empresses’ tombs are topped with yellow tiles while those of the lesser ranking individuals are topped with green tiles.
The principal sections of the tombs are the mausoleums of the four emperors which are identified as Changling, Tailing, Chongling and Muling. The visitor will find more than a hundred early stone constructions, palaces containing in excess of a thousand chambers and numerous sculptural artefacts and carvings. These relics clearly convey the resplendent pageantry of the period. Significant sites include Chaofang (the important Hall of Worship), the Beilou (a building which features a stele describing the emperors’ achievements), the Palace of Imperial Blessings – Long’en Dian, and Baoding, the upper section of a subterranean palace.
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