Zhaoling Tomb

Zhaoling Tomb, Xian Attractions, Xian Travel GuideThe Zhaoling Tomb situated on Jiuzong Mountain near Liquan County, 76 kilometers to the northwest of Xi'an. Zhaoling is the mausoleum of Emperor Tai Zong (Li Shimin), a sagacious emperor famous for the "Zhenguan Reign". In 626 AD, Li Shimin came to the throne and in the year followed, he changed the title of his reign to Zhenguan. He was in power for 23 years. He was important for bringing political stability as well as cultural and philosophical richness to the great Tang Dynasty. In 636 A. D., Empress Wen De died of an illness and was buried against the mountain according to her will. Taizong chose Mt. Jiuzhongshan as the tomb site. In 649 A.D., Tai Zong died was buried together with Empress Wen De in the same tomb. The tomb is accessible through a passage way that extends about 750 feet into the mountain side; the passage is guarded by five gates. While 15 of the surrounding 167 tombs have been excavated, the tomb of Emperor Taizong has not.

Zhaoling Cemetery is 60km in circumference. It covers an area of 20,000 hectares and is surrounded by 167 satellite tombs. In this area are the "18 tombs of the Tang Dynasty "on the Guanzhong Plain. Zhaoling was a masterpiece for tombs of its type.

A famous artist, Yan Lide from the Tang Dynasty, designed its construction. It showed a unique style in dimension and layout. The Zhaoling Tomb is the first to use the technique of mountainside burial while it had previously been the custom to build tombs on the plains and create artificial mounds over them. Constructed against mountains, the tomb chamber was built on a peak accessible by a 230-meter-long tunnel excavated through the mountain with five stone gates installed along.

Six Steeds in Zhaoling Tomb, Xian Attractions, Xian Travel GuideEmperor Tai Zong's resting place is located in the northermost part of the cemetery. Among the satellite tombs, those of Wei Zheng, Li Jing and Li Ji (Xu Mao gong) were particularly unique. The world-famous Six Zhaoling Bas-relief Stone Horses were carved and installed in the north wall of Zhaoling by Tang Tai Zong's instructions. Following a popular Tang Dynasty custom, more than eighty tombstones were erected on the Zhaoling Tomb. Most of these artifacts are now preserved in Zhaoling Museum.

The Zhaoling Museum was opened to the public in 1978. These remaining tombstones are on exhibition in it together with other stone tablets with epitaphs unearthed from some satellite tombs of Zhaoling in recent excavations. The museum also displays all the artifacts removed from the excavated satellite tombs. There is a splendid selection of superb ceramic figurines, wall paintings, and utensils.

The tombs at Zhaoling also produced six well know bas-reliefs of stone horses. Four of those are in the museum. The other two are now in the Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia.