Why is Zhonghua Gate special?
Zhonghua Gate, also known as Gate of China is the south gate of Nanjing City in Jiangsu Province. Zhonghua Gate is a magnificent building with a complicated structure, ingenious design and great originality. With materials comprising of mainly large boulder strips and bricks mixed with glutinous rice juices, limes and China wood oil, Zhonghua Gate is firm enough to stand for six centuries.
As a precious cultural relic, Zhonghua Gate has 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.
Zhonghua Gate Highlights
The construction of the gate was from 1366 to 1387. The gate as originally called Gate of Gathering Treasure. Legend has it that in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the first emperor of Ming Dynasty named Zhu Yuanzhang planned to have the gate built. However, the gate kept on collapsing. It was not until a treasure bowl was buried under the gate that it stood firm. Thus the name of Gate of Gathering Treasure was endowed. Later on, to commemorate the Revolution of 1911 and the Republic of China, the Gate of Gathering Treasure was renamed as Zhonghua Gate.
Under the reign of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, Nanjing was the capital of China. In 1366, Zhu Yuanzhang began to build a wall around the city of Nanjing to defend it from attack. The Gate of Gathering Treasure was built on the site of a previous gate. The new gate was the grandest among the thirteen gates of the new castle. It was an architecturally complex structure composed of three closed courtyards and four arched doors serving as the entrances. Additional stone doors were set behind double paneled wooden doors in order to attack the enemies. If the enemy broke through the wooden doors, they could be separated and trapped in the three closed courtyards upon dropping the stone doors. Twenty-seven tunnels were built to store large quantities of food and weapons. Approximately 3000 soldiers can also be stationed in it. Wide and steep ramps were built on the east and west side to allow soldiers to carry materials upward.
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.