As one of the three tombs opened to the public, Changling is the main tourist area in Ming tombs. Seated at the southern foot of the main peak of Tianshou Mountain, the Changling is the largest, earliest and most magnificent mausoleum among Ming Tombs. It is a multi-burial mausoleum for Zhu Di (the third emperor of Ming Dynasty as well as the one who decided to bring Ming Tombs into the world) and his empress Xu.
The ground construction of Changling occupies 120 000 square meters (the largest among Ming Tombs). It features a layout of square design in the front part and round in the back. In the front square part, there are three successive courtyards. The first one is equipped with a mausoleum gate; in the courtyard, there are five kitchens in the left, five storerooms in the right and a stele pavilion in the front of the kitchens. It is the best preserved one among Ming Tombs. Unfortunately, the kitchens and storerooms were all destroyed during Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and only the stele pavilion was saved to date.
In Ming Tombs, the second courtyard of Changling has a Ling’en Gate, which was built in 1538. The gate is 31.4 meters wide, 14.37 meters deep and 14.57 meters high. The stylobate of the gate is made of white marbles and the rails are engraved with patterns of dragons and phoenixes. The varied patterns are incomparable among Ming Tombs. Even on the stone footsteps, there are also exquisite basso-relievo of surging seawaters, treasured hill, seahorses and two vigorous dragons. Another two side gates beside the Ling’en gate are also built and decorated with colored glaze.
In Ming Tombs, the lofty Ling’en Hall sits in the middle of the northern area, and is a worship place for the heirs of Yongle emperor. The building is built on a white marble pedestal paved with gold interior. The hall is 66.56 m wide and 29.12 meters long. In the center of the hall sits the copper statue of Emperor Yongle in a throne, vivid and exquisite. This statue is a piece of art masterpiece in Ming Tombs. There are also hundreds of historical relics on display in the hall. Today, it has been turned to be a museum exhibiting the achievements of Zhu Di in the fields of diplomacy, politics, irrigation works and astronomy. In addition, the famous Sacred Way in Ming Tombs leads straight to Changling, which is also a popular tourist attraction.