The ancient but well-preserved Mausoleum of the Nanyue King (Nányuè Wáng Mù, 南越王墓) is a must-see Guangzhou attraction. Set atop a hill, the tomb has been excavated and is open to tourists. Though a collapsed roof caused water damage inside the tomb, several of the wall paintings are still visible and the structure remains largely intact. Descending into the tomb is somewhat slow if there's a crowd, but it's an incredible chance to explore what was intended to be the king's home in the afterlife. Many of the artifacts, including the king's burial suit made from sewn-together jade tiles (pictured), have been moved into the adjacent museum. The English audio guide is an indispensible companion in digging into the museum's history.
The tomb was discovered in 1983 during the building of a hotel upon Elephant Hill. The tomb's royal inhabitant, Zhao Mo, was the grandson of Zhao Tuo, a Qin Dynasty general who founded the Nanyue Kingdom after the collapse of the dynasty. From his capital at Panyu (now Guangzhou), Zhao Tuo encouraged intermarriage between Han Chinese and the local population. Considered by the Vietnamese to be their first emperor, Zhao Tuo still made tribute to the Han Dynasty, which considered Nanyue something of a vassal state. The kingdom would stand 93 years before its fall to Han Dynasty China after Zhao Mo's grandson, who sought to dissolve the Nanyue/China border, was killed in a coup by his brother and prime minister.
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