Zhonghua Gate, initially called Jubao Gate during the Ming Dynasty, is the south gate of Nanjing City. As the gate looks like an urn, it was also initially called Urn Gate. It is the largest of 13 gates measuring 21.45 meters in height, 118 meters in length from east to west and 129 meters from north to south.
Zhonghua Gate was originally constructed to be a strategic military citadel composed of three enclosed courtyards connected by four arched entryways. Separating each courtyard is a set of wooden doors and a set of stone doors. The stone doors swing open up and down instead of left and right. If the enemy broke through the wooden doors they would be trapped inside the courtyard by dropping the set of stone doors.
The entire gated area measures more than 15,000 square meters and contains 27 hideouts or caves built to store weapons and food. The battlements were able to house approximately 3,000 soldiers at a time.
The construction is very complex, very clever and very effective. It is said that it is one of the most complicated and well-preserved ancient citadels in the world. It took twenty-one years (from 1366 to 1387) to complete construction. The project of Zhonghua Gate was acknowledged to be grand at that time; magnificent in scale, detailed in structure, and architecturally advanced.
The Zhonghua Gate records the dynastic cycle of this city. It shows both the prosperity and decadence of Chinese History. Therefore, a visit to the Zhonghua Gate is a profound study of our country.