From the third Yongle Emperor on, the one who chose feng shui principles for the tombs, thirteen emperors of the Ming dynasty in China have been laid to rest. The valley enclosed by mountains was chosen so as to guard the spirits from bad demons. A seven-kilometer “Spirit Way” leads into the complex, guarded by animals and a large “Red Gate” with three arches. The tombs are part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 2003) including yet other tombs of the Ming and Xing dynasties. The eighteen pairs of mythical animals carved of stone lead the souls of the dead Emperors to the nether world.
The steps are made of marble and carved with snakes and dragons. The all-pervading royal colors are red and gold. Large metal pots filled with water symbolize longevity. The pointed ends of the rooftops shall ward off evil spirits. Bells and prayer drums are for the use of the devotees.
Within the buildings many objects like headdresses and silk robes are on display.