The Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom are mainly distributed in Ji’an City of Tonghua City of Ji-lin Province and Huanren County of Benxi City of Liaoning Province. The Koguryo were an ethnic group in the borderlands of northeast China from the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC-25 AD) to Sui and Tang dynasties (581-907), and exerted an important influence. They left many rich vestiges of their sphere of activity, including Wannu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City.
The Wunu Mountain City served as the first capital of the Koguryo Kingdom. It is grand in scale, complete in system and remarkably well-preserved. Important sites of buildings and remnants of daily and military life from the early Koguryo Kingdom are distributed within the city.
The Guonei City and the Wandu Mountain City were the joint capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom of the middle period (lst-5th century) and fulfilled that role for the longest time. The preserved city wall in Guonei City is still solid, but not lacking in good appearance and sheer impressiveness. The Wandu Mountain City was constructed according to the contour of the mountain, combining a fine blend of the natural and man-made.
The Ancient Tombs of the Donggou River are greater in number than any in Northeast Asia. The Wandu Mountain City was one of the capitals of the Koguryo people and it contains more than a dozen imperial tombs and nobles’ tombs, each with wall paintings. The General’s Tomb and the Tomb of King Haotai are representative. Built of stones, creating a kind of stepped pyramid, they are regarded as being the best examples from the late Koguryo Kingdom. The Tomb of King Haotai is that of the ruler of the 19th generation of the Koguryo Kingdom. It is splendid in scale and exquisite in architectural effect. The Stone Stele of the Haotai King on the east side of the tomb, carved with Chinese characters, is the longest document of the Koruryo Kingdom preserved to the present day.
These cultural artefacts offer us very practical evidence of the long-extinct Koguryo civilization, and are thus of inestimable historical and cultural value.
Tonghua’s Old Long-Distance Bus Station provides a regular service to Ji’an and there is also a daily rail link between Tonghua and Ji’an. There are many bus routes in Ji’an leading to the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom. It is an approximately four hours’ drive from Shenyang to Huanren County of Benxi City.
Tonghua is very rich in traditional Chinese medicinal materials, hence the names the Treasury of Medicinal Material and the Land of Genseng. It is responsible for producing a considerable proportion of the Three Treasures of Northeast China (ginseng, sable fur and deer’s pilose antler). The region’s wine is also well-regarded. When visiting Benxi, one should not forget to purchase genseng, deer’s pilose antler or some of the other products unique to this part of the world. In addition, Aralia elata Seem and dried edible black fungus are good value for money and make excellent gifts for friends and relatives back home.
Tonghua has many special snacks such as the Stewed Meat Balls, the Plum Blossoms Sea Cucumber, the Jijian Steamed Corn Bun, the Special Pork Chop, the Splendid Pine Nut, the Chaffy Dish with Soiled Vegetables, the White Pork, the Northeast Family-Style Boiled Fish, the Stir-Fried Mutton and Kidney Beans, the Three-Bowl Banquet, the Ginseng Chicken Soup, the Steamed Silver Carp, the Lotus-Shaped Frog, the Stewed Cornu Cervi Pantotrichum with Three Delicacies, the White Pork and Blood Large Intestine, and the Qingling Active Fish. Huanren’s foods have the ethnic flavors, including the Fermented Corn Noodles, the White Pork and Blood Large Intestine, the Sweet Basil Food, the Pineapple Leaf Cake of Manchu ethnic group, and the Korean Dog Meat, the Cold Noodles, the Cake in Hot Toffee and the DoenJang Soup (Bean Paste Soup) of the Korean ethnic group.
Winter is the best season to visit the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom.