Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum, Nanjing

Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum is located at the southern foot of Purple Mountain in the eastern suburb of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. Covering an area of over 133 hectares, it is the mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the great forerunner of democratic revolution of China, and the mausoleum is regarded as the most outstanding mausoleum in China’s modern architectural history.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum

Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925) is often referred to as “Father of Modern China”. The Revolution of 1911, led by Dr. Sun Yat-sen, brought down the corrupt rule of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and ended 2,000 years of the feudal monarchy system, which gave birth to the Republic of China.

The majestic mausoleum’s construction was started in 1926 and completed in 1929. Built in line with the landform of the mountain, the mausoleum faces a flat land in the south and backs on to a green mountain peak, showing a well-conceived layout and a great momentum. The structures, along with the mountain, ascend gradually along with the central axis line running from south to the north. The whole scenic area represents an alarm bell when looking down from the sky, symbolizing the noble spirit and heroic efforts of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s devotion to the Chinese people, fight of oppression and wining the independence of the country.

The main buildings of the mausoleum include the Memorial Archway, the Gate of the Mausoleum, the Tablet Pavilion, the Sacrificial Hall and the Coffin Chamber. The 700 meters long path from the Memorial Archway to the Coffin Chamber has 392 steps and 10 platforms, with a 70 meters difference in height.

At the entrance stands the great marble memorial archway, on which is carved with two Chinese characters written by Dr. Sun Yat-sen – “Bo Ai” -which means “Universal Love” .

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum-the Memorial  Archway at the entrance

Through the archway there is a passway leading to the Gate of the Mausoleum, which is decorated with cyan tiles on its top. Four Chinese characters written by Dr. Sun Yat-sen are inscribed on the lintel over the doorways meaning “What is under heaven is for all”, which fully explains the aim he pursued all his life.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum-the gate of the mausoleum

Through the gate of the mausoleum is a pavilion made of marble, which houses a 9-meter-high tablet, a memorial monument set by the Kuomintang (KMT) in memory of Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum-the Tablet Pavilion

Through the Tablet Pavilion, climbing along the stairs upward, you will see the Sacrificial Hall (the main hall of the mausoleum), which is located in the center of this plateau and is the highest place of the Mausoleum. This hall is known as an Alhambresque construction where the architectural style of China meets that of the Western world. It is 30 meters (98 feet) long, 25 meters (82 feet) wide and 29 meters (95 feet) high. The inscription of  the “Three Principles of the People” formulated by Dr. Sun: “nationalism”, “democracy” and “people’s livelihood”,  is carved respectively on each of the three archways of the hall. In front of the Sacrificial Hall stands a pair of ornamental columns (Huabiao), 12.6 meters (41 feet) high each, which will remind you of the columns in Tian’anmen Square.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum-the Sacrificial Hall

Entering the Hall, a 4.6-meter-high statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen sculpted from Italian white marble sits in the center. He wears long gown and looks forward with an open book on his lap, demonstrating the wisdom of the great thinker. At the foot of the statue, there are six bas-relief images that exhibit Dr. Sun’s glorious life and struggles in his revolution of China.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum-the statue of Dr. Sun Yat-sen

The door of the tomb is in the center of the back wall. The whole tomb is a hemispherical in shape, with a rectangular marble sarcophagus in the center. A reclining sculpture of Dr. Sun Yat-sen rests atop the sarcophagus, under which this historical giant forever sleeps.


Around the mausoleum there are many memorial buildings such as the Zhengqi Pavilion, Open-air Music Hall, Waxwork Home of Democratic Revolution, the Sun Yat-sen Museum, and so on.

Bordering Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum to the west and Linggu Temple to the east, Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum is a must see when traveling in Nanjing. With its many green pines and cypresses, blue tiles and silvery walls, the mausoleum offers a majestic view.

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