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World Heritage Site

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Koguryo Kingdom

Koguryo Kingdom
Photo provided by Boj Capati

The "Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom" consists of three former capitals and 40 tombs.

These archaeological sites represent the extinct Koguryu civilization that existed from the 1st century BC until the 7th century AD in what is now Northeast China and North Korea.

The cities are the first capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, Wunu Mountain City and Guonei City, and Wandu Mountain City. Of the thousands known Koguryo tombs, the designated area includes 14 Imperial Tombs and 26 tombs of Nobles. The latter are decorated with wall paintings, describing daily life scenes.

This WHS is closely related to Koguryu Tombs in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. The tombs there belong to a later period of the Koguryu Kingdom. Both China and North Korea have been asked to join their Koguryan sites, but haven't taken action to accomplish this so far.

Map of Koguryo Kingdom


  • Cultural

Community Reviews

tian China - 02-Jan-14

I have been to this WHS in 2008. Koguryo kindom was not an empire since its kings were always authorised by Chinese emperors. The most visitable place is Ji'an, Jilin province. Besides of some ancient ruins, you can see a big stele "Haotaiwangbei", which is famous for its Chinese calligraphy. Wukuifen is an ancient tomb with many mural showing how ancient Chinese understand the universe, the Chinese legendary emperor Fuxi and Shennong was pictured on the wall.

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Community Rating

Community Rating 3.33. Based on 3 votes.

Site Info

Full name: Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom

Unesco ID: 1135

Inscribed: 2004

Type: Cultural

Criteria: 1   2   3   4   5  

Link: By Name By ID

Site History

  • 2004 - Inscribed 


The site has 5 locations.

  • Koguryo Kingdom: Changchuan Tomb No. 1, 2, 4 Ji'an City, Jilin Province, China
  • Koguryo Kingdom: Guonei City Ji'an City, Jilin Province, China
  • Koguryo Kingdom: Ranmou Tomb and Huanwen Tomb Ji'an City, Jilin Province, China
  • Koguryo Kingdom: Wandu Mountain City Ji'an City, Jilin Province, China
  • Koguryo Kingdom: Wunu Mountain City Huanren County, Liaoning Prov., China


The site has 20 connections.


  • Early Under-floor Heating: Wunu Mountain City Army Camps "The semi-pit houses are generally 4.5 meters long and 4 meters wide. Inside the rooms are the kang in the shape of folded ruler with one to three rows of smoke channels. At the end of the kang is a kitchen range. At the other end is a chimney." - Nomination File


  • Pyramids: Tomb of the General
  • Mausolea: Tomb of the General (Ji'an)
  • Stelae: The stele of King Gwanggaeto of Goguryeo was erected in 414 by King Jangsu as a memorial to his deceased father. It is carved out of a single mass of granite, stands nearly 7 meters tall and has a girth of almost 4 meters. The inscription is written exclusively in Classical Chinese and has 1802 characters.
  • Tumuli: "Some of the tombs show great ingenuity in their elaborate ceilings, designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound), which was placed above them." - Nomination File
  • Walled cities: "Wandu Mountain City was one of the capitals of the Koguryo. It is surrounded by stone walls, following topography lines and has seven gates." - Nomination File
  • Cultural sites connected to Cliffs: "Geographical conditions were best used in the building of city walls, which reflected the architectual characteristics of the Koguryeo mountain city. The precipitous cliffs at the southeastern corner were used as the city walls. The seams were filled by stone tablets. Some of the other parts of the city walls were also built this way." - Nomination File


  • Destroyed during invasion: "Koguryo directly bordered the Kingdom of Wei, with which it often conflicted. General Wu Qi~ujian of Wei attacked Koguryo. The construction of palaces of Wandu Mountain City was damaged. King Dongchuanwang moved the capital to Guonei City (209AD) and started the first round of construction of the city." - Nomination File


Human Activity

  • Protective engineering works against flooding: "In August 1995, heavy rains caused flooding of the Chenjiagou River, Tomb No. 2102 in the Yushan Tomb Area was threatened. When the anti-flooding team arrived at the place, they built a dam to block floodwater from threatening the tomb and cultural relics were therfore effectively protected. Now dams have been built at the prone sections and protective measures have been taken." - Nomination File

Individual People

  • Homer B. Hulbert: "Manchuria is full of Korean graves, and for many centuries the power of Chosun was felt in this region." - The Passing of Korea (1905) pg 73

Religion and Belief

  • Taoism: "Motifs in most Goguryeo tomb murals display influences from the Taoist culture of the Yan Dynasty of China." - Cultural Heritage Administration of Korea (CHA) Korean Heritage Summer Webzine Spring 2009 (Vol.2,No.1)


  • Built in the 1st century BC: "The Koguryo kingdom starts as a regional power in the year 37BC, when its first capital city, Wunu Mountain City was built. 30 years later the capital moved to Guonei city." - AB Evaluation


World Heritage Process

  • WHC locations: Suzhou (2004)
  • Controversial at inscription: (1) there were some issues concerning the whitewashing of the facts in relation to chinese and korean histories; (2) the korean press accused the chinese of political maneuvering in order to get the dprk's own koguryo nomination deferred so that its own koguryo site will have a greater chance of getting inscribed. ironically, both were inscribed on the list in 2004, and the committee even recommended that a transfrontier site be formed.