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Nanjing Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum Travel Guide


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nanjing sun yat-sen mausoleum
nanjing sun yat-sen mausoleum

Nanjing in modern history is the center of China, and its greatest historical site recording the modern China from a feudal phase to a republic phase is Dr. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum. Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, widely known as Zhongshan Ling (中山陵) in Chinese, is located on Zhongshan Mountain (钟山, Bell Mountain) in the eastern suburb of Nanjing, capital city of Jiangsu province. The mountain is also called Zijin Moutain (The Purple Gold Mountain) because of the purple clouds that often hang over its peaks. With its many green pines and cypresses, blue tiles and silvery walls, the mausoleum offers a sublime and majestic view.

The question remains to be answered as to why the mausoleum is located on Zijin Mountain, especially since Dr. Sun Yat-sen, who was born in Chanxiangshan of Guangdong province and died in Beijing, stayed in Nanjing for only a short time. Perhaps the answer can be found in one of his trips to Zijin Mountain.

In March 1912, when Dr. Sun was the provisional president of the then Republic of China, he once went hunting on Zijin Mountain with Hu Hanmin and others. As he gazed at the winding Qinhuai River, followed by the green mountains behind, the Ming Dynasty Tomb to the left and Linggu Valley to the right, he smiled and said to his close attendants, "The day I die, I wish to rest my body down here."

In March 1925, Dr. Sun fell seriously ill and was on his deathbed. As he was sleeping, his wife Song Qingling, He Xiangning and Wang Jingwei began to talk about his funeral. Wang suggested his remains be buried on Jingshan Mountain in Beijing. At that very moment, Dr. Sun woke up and said, "No, no, I want myself to be buried on Zijin Mountain." Everyone present was astonished and immediately consented to his request, though none of them knew where the so-called Zijin Mountain was located.

After his death on March 12, 1925, his coffin was temporarily put in the Fragrant's Mountain's Temple of Azure Clouds, while the mausoleum was being built on the southern slope of Zijin Mountain, according to his will. A grand foundation-laying ceremony was held. In 1928, the Kuomintang government designated the entire Zijin Mountain as the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum and upon completion of the mausoleum; Dr. Sun's coffin was brought from Beijing to be buried there. In 1961, the mausoleum was declared by the State Council to be a key protective unit of cultural relics.

The south-facing mausoleum covers an area of over 80,000 square meters, and includes the semi-circle square, the memorial archway, the passway, the gate hall, the tablet pavilion, the sacrificial hall and the coffin chamber. All the buildings in the mausoleum's layout are arranged on a north to south axis. The Ming Dynasty Tomb (Ming Xiao Ling) is located nearby. Visitors cherish the memory of Dr. Sun by paying respects to his remains.

The mausoleum was designed in the shape of an alarm bell, reflecting Dr. Sun's idea of "evoking the mass people to build the Republic of China". The bronze statue of his image at the foot of the mountain is the spire of the bell,and the semi-circle square in front of the entrance resembles the arch top of the bell. The main memorial hall's vault looks like the pendulum. The huge bronze Ding (an ancient cooking vessel with two or three loop handles), a symbol of power in ancient times is seen as the hand of the bell.

A granite memorial archway, or Paifang which is inscribed with two Chinese characters written by Dr. Sun with the meaning of "fraternity", leads to the mausoleum grounds.Immediately behind is a 375-meter-long and 40-meter-wide pathway leading slightly up the hill to the formal gate hall with three arched entrances. On the upper part of the gate is inscribed four Chinese characters written by Dr. Sun, meaning, "the nation is people's nation and everyone shall serve the nation selflessly" (Tian Xia Wei Gong). From here the pathway leads up a wide stairway consisting of 392 steps and 8 terraces to the main memorial hall at the top. From the top, none of the terraces can be seen while from the top, none of the steps can enter the eyes. This can be viewed as an engineer reflection of Dr. Sun's philosophy of all people being equal.

Inside the gate hall, there is a pavilion which houses Dr. Sun's memorial tablet, a huge stone stele about 6 meters in height. Behind this and at the end to steps is the main memorial hall, consisting of the sacrificial hall and the coffin chamber. On the eighth terrace there is a pair of ancient Chinese ornamental columns (Huabiao), standing respectively on each side of the 12.6 meters high memorial hall.

The sacrificial hall is actually a palace with three entries, with the inscriptions of "nationalism" "civil rights" and "people's livelihood" respectively on each entry. The hall's ceiling is tiled with a flag of the Republic of China, which Dr. Sun Yat-sen established in 1911. In the center of the hall sits the 4.6-meter-high marble statue of a sitting Dr. Sun Yat-sen. On the four sides of the statue there are relief sculptures reflecting Sun's glorious revolutionary life. The walls of the hall are decorated with the full text of "The Guidelines for Establishing a Nation" written by Dr. Sun and "The Premier's Will" compiled by Huhanmin, etc. Visitors will not only learn of Sun's efforts and achievements in overthrowing the feudal system, but also his ideology about the independence, prosperity and development of the country.

North to the sacrificial hall is the circular coffin chamber, the resting place of Sun's remains. They lie in a rectangular marble stone coffin capped with a reclining sculpture of Dr. Sun , which is the work of a Czechic sculptor. The coffin sits in a sunken circular pit with a diameter of 4 meters and a height of 5 meters so that visitors can gaze down on it as they circle around in silence.

Over the last three decades, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum has witnessed enormous changes. The whole mausoleum and its memorial buildings have been extensively renovated several times. Tourists to Nanjing usually visit the mausoleum and pay their respects to Sun Yat-sen, the great revolutionist. Endowed with rolling hills, a vast sea-like forest, many sights and rich resources, the mausoleum is majestic and magnificent. With the unique and successful design, the mausoleum has been dubbed "the First Mausoleum in the History of Modern Architecture ".

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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