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Zhonghua Gate

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Zhonghua Gate, Nanjing Attractions

Brief Introduction

Zhonghua Gate (Chinese Gate) is the south gate of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province. A precious cultural relic, Zhonghua Gate has the double distinction of being the biggest castle-style city gate in China and a structural element of the most complicated castle in the world. It is the castle's magnificent scale, delicate structure, and the great skill with which it was built that bequeath it an important place in China's military and architectural traditions.

Construction

Accordingly to the history, it takes 22 years to built castle, Zhonghua Gate originally called the 'Gate of Gathering Treasure' carries a legend from the time of its creation in the early Ming Dynasty. According to the legend, when Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), had the gate built, the ground kept sinking. The gate collapsed again and again. It was not until a treasure bowl was buried under the gate that it stood firm. In 1931, to commemorate the revolution of 1911 and the Republic of China (1919-1949) that emerged as a result, the Gate of Gathering Treasure was renamed Zhonghua Gate. In Chinese Pinyin, Republic of China is written as Zhonghua Minguo. At the top step, there used to be a wooden building to defend against the enemy. The middle step was built of brick and stone. It was 65.15 m long, 47.20 m wide and 9.00 m high. In the north section of it were constructed 7 soldier staying holes. In the middle of the lower step was constructed an arched gate leading to barbican. It was 52.60 m long, 5.35 m wide and 8.7 m high. At the north section of it were built 3 soldier staying holes. Erdaomen (the second gate) was 16.14 m away from Toudaomen. Its hole was 8.20 m long, 4.97 m wide and 8.10 m high. The hole of Sandaomen (the third gate) 15.18 m away from Erdaomen was 8.32 m long, 4.82 m wide and 8.1 m high. Sidaomen (the fourth gate) was 19.3 m away from Sandaomen. Its hole was 8.8 m long, 4.8 m wide and 8.1 m high. At the outerside of the east and west of barbican were constructed 14 soldier staying holes (7 facing to the east 7 facing to the west). There are 27 soldier staying holes altogether in all the barbican and two paved ramps by which mounted troops can ride to the top.

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Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of Ming Dynasty, made Nanjing as the capital. For security, Zhu Yuanzhang began to build a wall around the city of Nanjing to defend it from attack in 1366. The Gate of Gathering Treasure (Zhonghua Gate) was built on the site of a previous gate, the south gate of the city built during the Later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936). The new gate, the grandest among the thirteen gates of the new castle, was an architecturally complex structure composed of three closed courtyards and four arched doors serving as the entrance. There were double paneled wooden doors and with additional stone door set behind. If the enemy broke through the wooden doors, they could be separated and trapped in the three closed courtyards upon dropping the stone doors.

In the Zhonghua Gate, there are Twenty-seven tunnels that were built in the castle to store large quantities of food and weapons and to hold approximately 3000 soldiers. Wide and steep ramps were built on the east and west side to allow people to carry materials upward. The entire structure was built with massive bricks mortared together with special cement made from lime, sticky rice juice and tung oil. In order to guarantee the quality of the construction, every brick underwent a strict quality control process. The brick makers and builders were ordered to mark their names on each brick. Even today, it is possible to find Chinese characters and numbers on the bricks. 

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The Zhonghua Gate has the history of around 600 years and still holds its original state except the wooden part. It is rare in the world for its bast scale and sophisticated style. No doubt, this detailed attention to quality of construction is one of the reasons why the condition of the castle remains so remarkably good today. 

Travel Guide

Admission Fee: CNY 50
Opening Hours: 8:30-20:00
Address:  Zhonghua Gate, Qinhuai District, Nanjing
Recommended Time for Visit: 1 hour

How to get to Zhonghua Gate

Bus route: take bus No. 33, 16, 701, 202, 2 and get off Zhonghuamen (Zhonghua Gate) stop
Metro route: take metro line 1 and get off at Zhonghua Gate station

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