The Ming Tombs are located at the foot of the Tianshou Mountains in the outskirts of Beijing. It is the final resting place of many Ming emperors.
The tombs sites have a certain pattern. The actual tomb is buried under an earth mound and its entrance kept secret to prevent looting. Near the tomb, however, there is a building (such as the one pictured on the left) containing a single commemorative steele. Most tourists are taken to the Dingling tomb, which is actually open for viewing. The inside is mostly empty, unfortunately, because the tomb was sacked during the Cultural Revolution and the remains desecrated by the Red Guards. Nearby, however, there is a museum where some artifacts found in the tomb can still be admired.
When a Ming emperor died, his funeral procession would typically come in through the Sacred Road on the way to the tomb site. The Sacred Road is a majestic tree-lined path decorated by 24 stone sculptures depicting real and mythological animals as well as 12 sculptures depicting civil officials and soldiers. The animals are in alternating standing and kneeled positions to represent their protection and respect for the emperor, respectively.