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Museum of the Mausoleum of Nanyue King, or officially known as Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum, is always on the top list of things to do in Guangzhou for archaeological lovers and Chinese history and culture enthusiasts. This museum includes a 2000-year-old mausoleum relic, which is widely regarded as the largest and oldest stone chamber tomb in Lingnan Area (south of the Nanling Mountains) and one of the major archaeological discoveries in China. Apart from the tomb site, the museum displays more than 1,000 rare relics unearthed from the tomb. Those elegant treasures can take you to the exquisite life of Nanyue State 2,000 years ago.
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The museum is built on the tomb site of the second Nanyue King - Zhaomo (赵眜), who ruled from 137 BC to 122 BC (more than 2,000 years ago). Nanyue Kingdom was a dependent state of Western Han Dynasty in China (202 BC- 8 AD), hence the name of the museum, the Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum. The tomb hidden 20 meters underground was accidently discovered at 1983 when people were digging and measuring to build new apartments here. More than a thousand pieces of relics were unearthed from the intact tomb include the Administrative Seal of Emperor which proves the owner of the tomb.
The museum was firstly opened to the public in 1983 and renovated in 2010. Inside the museum, you can find the original site of the tomb, the rare treasures unearthed from the tomb and a collection of ceramic pillows.
The tomb of Nanyue King was discovered by chance in 1983, intact and had not been plundered. For a better preservation of the treasures, the rare relics found in the tomb were carefully moved out from the tomb. Therefore, there are no artifacts displayed in the tomb now. However, the tomb with altogether 7 rooms itself is still a vital relic with strong features of Nanyue. It is made up of 750 huge stones, with colorful murals painted on the wall. Such a color-painted stone chamber tomb has been proved to be the earliest stone tomb with painting in the area of South China since it was discovered.
The relics and artifacts unearthed from the tomb must be the highlights of the museum. Those rare treasures are displayed in the exhibition room next to the tomb, including "Beautiful Jades", "Weapons, Chariots and Harness", "Instrument of Production", "Daily Utensils" and "Musical Instruments and Cooking Utensils", meticulously depicting how life was during Zhao Mo's reign (2,000 years ago). Besides, the foreign articles excavated from the mausoleum gives visitors a glimpse of the trade on ancient Marine Silk Road. The star attraction of those treasures is the elaborate and luxurious burial garment of Zhao Mo, which is made of more than 2,300 pieces of jade tiles. This Jade Garment is considered to be the earliest jade burial suit in the world and also the most unique one. Unlike other existing Jade Garments with pieces connected by gold, silver, or copper, all the jade tiles of the burial suit of Zhao Mo were connected by silk thread.
Inside the museum, there are also a collection of over 400 ceramic pillows in different shape and color, among which over 200 pieces were donated by the renowned Hong Kong collector and industrialist Mr. Yeung Wing Tak and his wife Madame Yeung Cheung Shui Ching. The pillows range in date from the Tang Dynasty (618 AD - 907 AD) to the Yuan Danasty (1271 AD - 1368 AD), with the majority produced during the Song Dynasty (960 AD - 1279 AD) and Jin Dynasty (266 AD - 420 AD). The different pillow in different shape and decoration reflects different culture in different time. Ceramic pillows can help people kill the hot of in the summer nights. Besides, those ceramic pillows with delicate decorations hold good wishes. For example, ceramic pillows with dancing butterflies represent a blessing for a perfect marriage, and the pillows in animal shapes were thought to ward off evil spirits. The different pillow in different shape and decoration shows the unique and stunning culture of that time.
The Western Han Museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum is located in the heart area of Guangzhou city, right close to the Yuexiu Park and Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and not far from Beijing Road Pedestrian Street and Tai Sha Tau Cruise Ship Terminal (where you can experience the Pearl River Night Cruise). Therefore, after a deep visit of the Nanyue King Mausoleum, you can spend some hours to visit Yuexiu Park for some leisure walking, to Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall for more Modern History of China, to Beijing Road Pedestrian Street for some shopping, or to Tai Sha Tau Cruise Ship Terminal to have a 70-minute exploration of the charming night view by cruise.
The Western Han museum of the Nanyue King Mausoleum in settled at No.867, Jiefangbei Road, Guangzhou (广州解放北路867号), right next to the Yuexiu Park and Guangzhou Museum, and about 30km/18mi from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (广州白云机场). You can easily find it and get there by taxi, metro, bus, bicycle, etc.
If you are going to visit the museum by metro, you can take the Guangzhou Metro Line 2 and get off at Yuexiu Park Station (Exit E) to get to this museum.
Usually, it takes about 2-3 days for the travelers coming to Guangzhou to savor the delicate and delicious Cantonese Food and catch its top classic highlights like Chen Clan Ancestral Hall, Canton Tower, Museum of the Mausoleum of Nanyue King, Yuexiu Park, Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Shamian Island, Pearl River, etc.
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For the visitors on business travel to attend the Canton Fair (usually lasts for 3 days) in Guangzhou, you are suggested to spend 6-7 days in total to enjoy the big global event and also explore the famous attractions of Guangzhou.
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[Important] Travel News for Expats: China travel is reopening now! Travel with China Discovery and learn about where to visit & requirements for each destination! Read Details >