Mufu Palace once stood as a home to Lijiang’s ruling family—a center of politics, power, and culture. This grand palace was constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644), in a style matching Beijing’s Forbidden City. Few places in China, or anywhere really, feature such fine craftsmanship and intricate carving as this Lijiang palace. The building that stands today is a reconstruction and restoration of this ancient wonder, a true Lijiang landmark. It’s a reminder of the 500 years the Mu family guided Lijiang and was one of the major stops along the Silk Road.
This impressive complex in the southwest of Old Town Lijiang was built for Mu, a ruler of the Naxi People of China. This powerful leader wanted a palace as grand as the one in Beijing, and that’s just what he got. During the height of Mu’s power, his palace complex covered 16 acres and contained nearly 100 separate buildings. After war arrived during the Qing Dynasty, the palace fell into disrepair. Expert restoration work of the Lijiang palace began in 1996, under the auspices and guidance of the World Bank, and was completed in 1999.
The Mufu Palace complex today covers about half the size, but it’s still spectacular. The temple faces east, enjoying a prime view of the sunrise, Shizi Mountain and other Lijiang attractions. On a tour, you’ll have the chance to see the place the king once called home, including the living spaces and the office. In the grand main hall, three wooden steles are dedicated to three different emperors from the Ming Dynasty. Throughout China, steles are common sights—these wooden or stone pillars were erected in honor or remembrance of important people. Intricate carvings and elaborate works of art are on display at the Lijiang palace, which is surrounded by white marble railings. Outside, you’ll find lovely gardens and landscaping that seem to invite you to get out and spend time in nature.