High up in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountains, on the outskirts of Madrid, a tomb in a mausoleum was opened last month. By order of the Spanish government, which was upheld by the Supreme Court, the body of General Francisco Franco, who ruled Spain from 1939 to 1975, was exhumed and reburied next to his wife in a municipal cemetery. Officially inaugurated in 1959, the Valle de los Caídos (“Valley of the Fallen”) mausoleum is a grand monument adorned with statues, mosaics, tapestries and a towering 150-metre-high cross. Franco was not the only person interred in the mausoleum, but he was certainly the most famous and controversial. Most Chinese emperors were buried in mausoleums constructed during their lifetimes. Some of these imperial tombs are still standing, the most famous and most visited of which are in Beijing, where 13 emperors of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) are buried. It may come as a surprise for many Hongkongers there is an imperial tomb in the Chiwan District of Shenzhen . After decades of resisting the Mongols, the Southern Song dynasty finally capitulated in 1276, when Grand Empress Dowager Xie and the five-year-old Emperor Gong formally surrendered to the Mongol commander Bayan at the capital Linan (present-day Hangzhou). Determined to keep the dynasty alive, a group of loyalists escaped to the south with two of Gong’s half-brothers and what was left of the Southern Song army. The older prince, Zhao Shi, aged seven, was enthroned in Fuzhou four months later. But the loyalists were no match for the Mongol army and retreated further south. When Zhao Shi, known in history as Emperor Duanzong, died two years later, in what many believe to be present-day Mui Wo, on Lantau Island, his half-brother Zhao Bing was made emperor. With the Mongols in pursuit, Zhao Bing and his itinerant court fled to Yashan, a coastal town west of the Pearl River Delta. It was there that the Mongols and the remnants of the Southern Song dynasty had a final showdown in 1279, resulting in the total annihilation of the Southern Song forces. A loyalist, seeing that all was lost, carried the seven-year-old Zhao Bing on his back and jumped into the sea. Accounts following this became somewhat fanciful. In one version, an Buddhist monastic walking along the coast of Chiwan saw a body floating in the sea with a flock of birds hovering over it. He fished it out, and from his clothes and still recognisable face, identified him as Zhao Bing. He buried the child at the foot of a nearby hill. In another account, a corpse of a child wearing yellow imperial robes washed up in Chiwan. At the same time, a wooden pillar of a nearby temple dedicated to Tin Hau, the Goddess of the Sea, suddenly collapsed. A divination ritual revealed that the body to be Zhao Bing and the broken pillar a gift from Tin Hau to ensure a proper burial. A small coffin was fashioned out of the pillar and Zhao Bing was buried. The grave was rediscovered in the 1960s and in 1984, a joint Hong Kong-Shenzhen effort was made to restore and expand the gravesite. As imperial mausoleums go, the tomb of Zhao Bing, known posthumously as Emperor Shao, is of modest proportions. Given the stories surrounding its origins, even the identity of the body interred within, if indeed there is one, has yet to be authenticated.