Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom in Ji’an City, Tonghua


The Koguryo(高句丽) regime began in 37 B.C. and ended in 668 A.D., moved its capital to the domestic city in 3 A.D. (Ji’an City today), and then to Pyongyang(平壤) in 427 A.D. Huanren City(桓仁市) and Ji’an City(集安市) are the political, cultural and economic centers of Koguryo in the early and middle period, and are the areas where the cultural heritage of Koguryo is most concentrated. The capital city and tombs of ancient Koguryo Kingdom were listed in the World Heritage List in July 2004. It embodies the masterpiece of human creation and wisdom. As the capital city and tombs built in the early history, it reflects the influence of other nationalities by the Han nationality on the culture  and the unique mural art. It also reflects the disappeared Koguryo civilization. The capital city built by the use of stone, clay and other materials. It shows the perfect combination of human creation and nature.

History of Koguryo

Prince Gao Zhumeng of Fuyu Kingdom established Koguryo Kingdom in 37 B.C..After the founding, Koguryo expanded rapidly and gradually annexed the surrounding Fuyu, Woju, Dongli and other four counties of the Han Dynasty. During the reign of King Haotai and King Changshou in the 5th century, Koguryo entered its heyday. In the next century, Koguryo maintained its overwhelming dominance over Xinluo Kindom and Baiji Kindom on the Korean Peninsula, and controlled most of the present Korean Peninsula and the southern part of Northeast China. During the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Koguryo fought with the Sui and Tang Dynasties continuously, and its national strength fell. In August 668, it was destroyed by the Tang Dynasty and the Xinluo Coalition Army. More than 30,000 Koguryos were transferred to the China by the Tang Dynasty. They became an important group of warriors in the Tang Dynasty and played an important role in the history of the late Tang and the Five Dynasties. The Koguryo survivors who remained in place were absorbed by the Bohai States and Xinluo Kindom.
In 2010, the Chinese government established the Ji’an Gaogouli National Archaeological Park (集安高句丽考古遗址公园), which includes all of the Koguryo World Heritage Sites in Ji’an, Jilin, but not the ones in Liaoning (such as Wunü Mountain City).

Main Attraction

Wandu Mountain City(丸都山城)

The Wandu Mountain City is the second capital of Koguryo. It is a military garrison city of Koguryo. It is also interdependent with the Guonei City. It has become a special model of compound capital cities in the history of the capital architecture in world. It is a major feature of Koguryo architecture. 

Guonei City(国内城)

Both the Guonei City and the Wandu Mountain City were the political, economic and cultural centers of Koguryo. 

Tombs (墓群)

The site includes archaeological remains of 40 tombs which were built by Goguryeo, which was founded in Northeast China and later extended into the northern half of the Korean Peninsula.
Some of the tombs have elaborate ceilings designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound) was placed above them. The paintings in the tombs, while showing artistic skills and specific style, are also an example of strong influence from various cultures.
The tombs represent a masterpiece of the human creative genius in their wall paintings and structures.

General’s Grave(将军坟)

General’s Grave is the most representative of the large Koguryo mausoleum, which is similar to the tomb of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs and is known as the Oriental Pyramid. General’s tomb is 31 meters long and 12 meters high. There are seven steps. All of them are made of exquisite large granite strips. The top of the tomb is covered with a huge stone covering an area of more than 50 square meters. Two sarcophagus were placed side by side in the tomb room. At the top of the tomb, there are round holes arranged neatly on the four sides of the stones. In the sediment on the top of the tomb, there are slabs, lotus-pattern tiles and iron hooks, which can be seen as the relics of pavilions, which is very consistent with the burial customs of other ancient minorities in the north. Behind the General’s Grave, there were four tombs of the same pattern. They were much smaller, but only one remains.

Gwanggaeto Stele(好太王碑)

Gwanggaeto Stele  known as the first monument in the East, was built by the King Changshou in memory of King Yongle. The stele is made of a huge square pillar stone, more than 6 meters high, with a total of 1775 inscriptions on all sides, with fonts between official scripts and regular scripts. The inscription in Chinese characters describes the achievements of King Haotai in his life and the legends about the origin of Koguryo and the establishment of the regime. It is the longest written material preserved by Koguryo up to now

How to Get There

Take a bus from Changchun Bus Station to Ji’an (taking about 5h). There are two buses departing at 7:45 and 17:30. It costs CNY108. And then take a taxi to reach Capital Cities and Tombs of Ancient Koguryo Kingdom.