We started following the Spirit Way/Sacred Way in the middle, at the Hua Biao/decorative hexagonal columns:
But first some snacks for lunch: a meat stick, a red bean sticky bun, and some fresh strawberries:
Others were trying the caramel art lollipops:
Back on the Sacred Way, where it turns north. Different from the straight sacred ways of former dynasties, this one turns and curves, making it unique and unprecedented in Chinese history. Here it is lined with two pairs of generals:
(It looks like they stick juniper branches in the ground, but they are all rooted:)
And two pairs of civil servants in 14th-century dress:
This one stands in front of Plum Blossom Hill:
The last pair of civil servants stands before the Pailou/decorative gateway.
The Lingxing Men/Dragon & Phoenix Gate (renovated in 2006) has six pillars and three openings:
The tops of the pillars are carved to look like clouds.
Kent at a side bridge over a series of pools:
One tour group had matching Burberry-like rain hats.
Wenwu Men/Civil & Military Gate:
Restored in 1998.
Just before the gate sits a tablets with a Special Notice written in six languages:
Imperial Tablet Hall:
First restored in 1699 when then Qing Emperor Kangxi wrote these four characters. Somehow these four characters say "Running the State even better than the Tang Emperor Taizong and Song Emperor Taizu, two successful emperors in Chinese history."
The tablet is held by the Bixi:
An ornate stone relief carving:
Bixi's rear end:
The three-level base of Xiaoling Hall:
After passing through an Inner Red Gate, you can see the massive Soul Tower:
Individual bricks were marked by the manufacturer to insure quality control:
Tamiko with a tree trunk that looks like animal legs and toes:
First the loyal horses:
Next the elephants and camels:
Kent took off into an area to one side, where the Spring Outing Festival was underway:
Sifengchang/Four Square Pavilion:
The entrance to the Ming Xiaoling/Ming Tomb.