50 kilometers northwest from Beijing City lays the Ming Tombs – the general name given to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644). The Ming Tombs are sheltered from the northern winds by a chain of picturesque mountains. Facing south, they overlook a lush valley, which contains numerous water streams wending their way through fragrant copses of apple and peach trees. The positioning of the tombs was a matter of great concern. It was imperative to assure the powerful spirits the best location possible, as defined by the ancient science of fengshui or geomancy. According to this, a tomb should be shielded on its northern side to protect it from evil spirits blown by the northern winds. Water should be located nearby, and there should be a view of mountains of an auspicious shape Given its long history, along with palatial and integrated architecture, the site has a high cultural and historic value.
The site was originally built only for Emperor Zhudi and his empresses, which is known as Changling. Changling is the most magnificent of the tombs and the succeeding twelve emperors had their tombs built around Changling. Only the Changling and Dingling tombs are open to the public.