In 1368, Zhu Yuanzhang chose Nanjing as his capital and established the Ming Dynasty, making Nanjing the political, economic and cultural center throughout the country for the first time. Today, the traces of the Ming Dynasty can be seen here and there in Nanjing.
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum
Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the tomb of Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, and his empress surnamed Ma. It was built during the Hongwu period of the Ming Dynasty, and the construction lasted for 38 years. So far, it has gone through 600 years of vicissitudes. In 2003, it was included in the World Heritage List. The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the sole world cultural heritage site in Nanjing, and it established the standard for imperial mausoleums of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Zhonghua Gate, located just south of Nanjing, was formerly known as “Treasure Gate” in the Ming Dynasty. It is the largest castle-style gate among the 13 ancient gates of Nanjing. With its rigorous layout and its unique structure, Zhonghua Gate has three barbican entrances to the city and four arched gates. Zhonghua Gate Castle, 128 meters in length from south to north and 118.5 meters in width from east to west, has 27 caves used to hold military supplies and to launch ambushes in time of war.
Chaotian Palace, where the emperors were worshipped in the Ming Dynasty, is the best preserved ancient building complex of the Ming and Qing dynasties in south of the Yangtze River. It is located southwest of Xinjiekou, the center of Nanjing. The name “Chaotian Palace” was conferred by Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, meaning “worshipping heaven”. The existing buildings were rebuilt in 1866. Changed from pre-2,500-year-old Yecheng, to the site of worshipping the emperors in the Ming Dynasty, from Jiangning Fuxue (Nanking Academy) and Confucius Temple of the Qing Dynasty to today’s Nanjing Museum, it witnessed the history and culture of Nanjing as an ancient capital.
Ruins of the Ming Imperial Palace
The Ming Imperial Palace in Nanjing was the blueprint of the Imperial Palace in Beijing. It was the first imperial palace of the unified dynasty of ancient China in Nanjing’s history. Now, it is located on the north and south sides of East Zhongshan Road, Nanjing. The Ruins of the Ming Imperial Palace was built in the park in 1985, and the park is known as the Wuchao Gate Park because of the Meridian Gate (commonly known as Wuchao Gate) of the Ming Imperial Palace.
Mochou Lake Park
Mochou Lake Park is located west of the Qinhuai River in Nanjing. With its long history of 1,500 years and its rich cultural resources, it is a historical site of the Six Dynasties and a famous classical park in the south of the Yangtze River. Since ancient times, it has been reputed as the “No. 1 Scenic Spot in Jiangnan” and one of the “48 Scenic Sights of Jinling”. The park has towers and pavilions, weeping willows on the waterside and Chinese flowering crabapples in the lake. The Shengqi Tower (where Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang once played chess with his general Xu Da), Yujin Hall, Waterside Pavilion, Baoyue Tower, and winding paths and corridors dot the mountains, rocks, flowers and trees.
Yuejiang Tower, which is close to the Yangtze River, is located on Lion Mountain, northwest of Nanjing. At the foot of the Lion Mountain are the Ming Dynasty city walls and the moat. In the early Ming Dynasty, Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang granted the name to this mountain, and planned to build the Yuejiang Tower on it. He wrote an article entitled “Record of Yuejiang Tower”, but no tower was ever built till 2001. The bright and colorful Yuejiang Tower has become one of the city landmarks.
Drum Tower Park
With its altitude of 40 meters, the Drum Tower hillock is part of Zhongshan Mountain. The Drum Tower of the Ming Dynasty, built in 1382, is on the hillock, and the park is named after the Drum Tower. The gingko, Sabina chinensis and locust trees around the Drum Tower have grown into towering trees, dotting the red walls of the Drum Tower.