Backed by the essence of historical happenings, complex architecture and legendary stories, the Zhonghua Gate in the Jiangsu Province of Nanjing City features among the most loved tourist destinations of China. It took 21 years to construct this gate.
And the imposing structure that stands on the spot till today justifies every bit of the effort and talent that was put to work way back during the rule of the Ming Dynasty. Even to a modern day tourist this huge structure appeals with the magnificence of its structural elements that make it the most complicated castle in the world!
Zhonghua Gate , also known as the Chinese Gate, is the south gate of the city of Nanjing. Its construction began in 1366 during the reign of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty. During this time Nanjing was the capital of China. The Emperor instructed the construction of a wall around his capital city to protect it from outside attacks. Zhonghua Gate, which was then known as the Gate of Gathering Treasure, was thus constructed on the site that had seen an old gate built during the later Tang Dynasty (923 - 936).
There is a fascinating legend that explains the then name of Zhonghua Gate- the Gate of Gathering Treasurs. It is said that when Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang built the gate, the ground kept sinking and the gate kept collapsing to the ground. Finally, when a treasure bowl was buried in the place did the gate stand firm. Later on, in 1931 this gate was renamed to the Zhonghua Gate in order to pay tribute to the revolution of 1911 which led to the formation of the Republic of China.
The new castle built by Zhu Yuanzhang had a total of 13 gates but the Zhonghua Gate was the grandest of them all. It had a very complex structure made up of three closed courtyards and four arched doors that served as the entrance. There were stone doors set behind the double paneled wooden doors. The strategy was to divide the enemy troop in the event of an attack and trap them in the three closed courtyards by dropping the heavy stone doors.
One of the most interesting features of the castle is its 27 tunnels. These were built for storing large amount of food and weapon and had the capacity to hold around 3000 soldiers. Interesting displays of old weapons can be seen in many of these. Others lie empty but still makes for a nice walk through the alleys of history. The east and the west side has wide and steep ramps which enabled people to carry materials upward. Massive bricks plastered together with specially made cement created with lime, sticky rice juice and tung oil were used. Quite interestingly, each of these bricks has, even to this day, the names of the brick makers on them.