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Home : China Guide : Jiangsu : Nanjing

History of Nanjing
Nanjing inhabitants are particularly proud of their city as the former capital of the Ming Dynasty. The city has a number of historical sites left from that period.

Xiaoling Mausoleum is the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang (1328-1398), founder of the Ming Dynasty, and his wife Empress Ma, and is the largest imperial mausoleum in the Nanjing area. Most of its wooden structures were destroyed in wars, leaving only the Dismounting Horse Archway, Prohibition Tablet, Inner Red Gate, four walls of the tablet pavilion, stone sculptures and the Square City. In 2003, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum was designated a World Cultural Heritage site by UNESCO.

The Ming City Wall was built in 1366-1386 -- the early years of the Ming Dynasty. It was originally 33.676 kilometers in circumference, and 21.35 kilometers of it still stand. In its time it was the highest and longest city wall in the world, and is awaiting World Cultural Heritage designation. Its foundations comprise granite, rectangle stones and limestone. The walls were packed layer by layer with bricks, gravel and yellow earth. All the brickwork joints were seeped in lime, water in which glutinous rice had been cooked and tung oil because this coagulated mixture was very strong. Each brick bears an ancient quality guarantee in the form of an embossed name and address of its maker, supervisor and time of manufacture.

Zheng He (1371-1433) led seven sea voyages in 28 years from 1405 to 1433. The route his fleet navigated is called "Old Silk Road on the Sea." Zheng He's tomb is designed in Islamic style with "Allah the Great" carved in Arabic on its headstone. The tomb is in the shape of Chinese character "hui," and in front of it are four flights of seven steps, symbolizing Zheng He's seven sea voyages to more than 40 countries in 28 years.

The Ming Imperial Palace was the prototype of the Imperial Palace in Beijing and similarly consisted of two parts: the Imperial and the Palace Cities. The Imperial Palace was the ruling center of three emperors (Hongwu, Jianwen and Yongle) for 54 years until 1421, when Zhu Di, Emperor Chengzu of the Ming Dynasty, moved the national capital to Beijing. (Source: China Today)

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