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Zhaoling

Zhaoling Travel Guide

Brief Introduction
Zhaoling is the mausoleum of Li Shimin, Emperor Taizong of Tang Dynasty (618-907); he was one of the most brilliant rulers in Chinese history. Located in Jiuzong Mountain, 83 kilometers (51.5 miles) from downtown Xian, Shaanxi, Zhaoling is the largest among the 18 mausoleums of the Tang Dynasty.

It is also the largest royal mausoleum in the world.
Covering an area of 87.5 square miles, Zhaoling has 190 satellite tombs that have been verified with 37 which have been excavated. The owners of the satellite tombs include famous ministers, royal families and high officials.

All five forms of satellite burials in history have been represented here thereby justifying Zhaoling as the most typical imperial mausoleum in China. The configuration of Emperor TaizongĀ“s tomb as it overlooks the satellite ones symbolizes the utmost authority of the emperor.

The style of Zhaoling as it is set against the mountain is a miniature of the renovation in Tang Dynasty. Record has it that before her death, Empress Wende told Emperor Taizong that her burial site should be placed against a mountain so that there would be no need to build a tomb. After her burial, the Emperor wrote on the tombstone that an emperor regarded the whole world as his family. Why be bound to a mausoleum? In the mausoleum against Jiuzong Mountain, there was no gold or jade or anything precious except for some earthen and wooden wares.

These were placed here to pacify thieves; their existence or loss was not important. From the excavated parts of the mausoleum, we could now say that the whole project was lavish instead of thrifty. Therefore, in setting the tomb against the mountain they protected it from theft rather than the initial propose as requested by the empress.

The construction of the mausoleum lasted 107 years beginning with burial of Empress Wende in 636 until completion in 741. Rich cultural relics were left on the ground and underground.

Features
Zhaoling as a witness to the development from the beginning of Tang to its eventual prosperity. It is also a valuable treasury to help us know the culture, politics and economy of the Chinese feudal society; kept in Zhaoling are large quantities of calligraphy, sculpture and painting works.

The epitaphs written by reputed calligraphers in Zhaoling can be said to be the norm of calligraphy in the beginning of Tang Dynasty. Murals in Zhaoling are a portraiture of the real life in Tang Dynasty with a romantic touch. Glazed pottery figures are daintily designed with bright colors.

Traffic:

You can take the bus get there directly from Xian or Xianyang.

DCT Tips:

Recommended time for a visit: 2 hours.

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