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China Landscape

Scenes & Sights   World Cultural and Natural Heritage   National Famous Cities   The Silk Road Tour
Major National Scenic Resorts    World Heritage in China    Holiday Resorts Tour    Yellow River Tour
Southwest Ethnic Groups Customs Tour    Great Wall Tour   Central Plains Tour    Three Gorges Tour
Splendid China Shenzhen    Snow Ice Tour    Religious Tours

Temple of Heaven   The Palace Museum    Potala Palace    The Cave of Peking man in Zhoukoudian    Summer Palace in Beijing
Mausoleum of Qin Shihuang and Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors
   Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang   Huangshan Mountain Scenic Area
Taishan Mountain Scenic Area
     Dazu Stone Carvings   Jiuzhaigou Ravine Scenic Area     Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) Scenic Area
Chengde Mountain Resort and Temples  Mansion, Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu   Wuyi Mountain  Zhouzhuang Village
Ancient Architectural Complex on Wudang Mountain
    Lushan Mountain Scenic Area     Emei Mountain and Giant Buddha of Leshan
   The Great Wall   Ancient City-Lijiang   The Ancient City of Pingyao    Ancient Gardens in Suzhou

 

Travel China in the Brand-New Century The turn of the century witnesses China's tourism and travel industry marching into the new millennium.

Temple of Heaven

It was built in 1420, the 18th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle and was where emperors went to worship heaven for good harvests. There are two parts to the temple-the inner altar and outer altar. The main buildings are in the inner altar, on the north-south axis. At the southern end are the Imperial Vault of Heaven and the Circular Mound Altar. On the northern end are the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests and Huangqian Hall. The structures at both ends are connected by a 360-meter-long walk. There is also the Hall of Abstinence inside the West Heavenly Gate which was where the emperor fasted for three days and bathed before prayer.

The temple's main building is the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, where the emperor prayed for good harvests. The round hall, 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter, has triple eaves and a cone-shaped deep blue tile roof crowned with a gilded knob. Surrounding the hall is a six-meter-high spacious circular stone terrace on three levels, each edged by a balustrade of carved white marble.


The Circular Mound Altar is one of the more important buildings and is a three-tier white song terrace enclosed by two walls. Geometrically designed, the altar has a taiji rock at the center of the top terrace. If you stand on the rock and speak in a normal voice, your voice will sound louder and more resonant to yourself than to others around you, because the sound waves reflected by the balustrades and the round wall bounce back to the center.
To the north of the Circular Mound Altar is the Imperial Vault of Heaven where the memorial tablets to heaven were placed. It is smaller than the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests but is very similar in structure.

The vault, made of brick and timber, is 19 meters high and 15.6 meters in diameter. It is surrounded by a circular wall of polished brick with an opening to the south. This is known as Echo Wall and is 3.72 meters high, 61.5 meters in diameter and 193 meters in circumference. If a person whispers close to the wall at any point, his voice can be heard distinctly at any other point along the wall. Around the Hall of Abstinence are two imperial ditches and they are circled by a 163 bay walkway. The Abstinence Bronze Man Pavilion and Time and Memorial Tablets Pavilion are at the Celestial Terrace of the main hall. Bells in the two bell towers at the northeast end were struck when the emperor prayed for good harvests adding to the solemnity of the occasion.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998.

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The Palace Museum

The Palace Museum is situated at the center of Beijing's meridian line to the north of Tian'an men Gate. Also known as the Forbidden City, it was the imperial palace of the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Palace Museum contains the world's largest group of intact palace structures make largely of timber. It was listed as a world cultural heritage site in 1987. Construction of the palace began in 1406, the fourth year of the reign of Ming Emperor Yongle, and it was completed 14 years later. In the years that followed, 24 emperors have ascended the throne and the last emperor, Pu Yi, was driven from the palace in 1924.

The year after the palace was converted into a museum and opened to the public.
Covering a rectangular area of 720,000 square meters the museum stretches 960 meters from north to south and 750 meters from east to west. There are 9,999 and a half, towers, buildings and pavilions and a total combined floor space of 150,000 square meters. The dark red outer wall is 3,400 meters long and at the corners there are four corner towers. Around the palace there is a city moat.

The structures in the palace were all built on the meridian line and there is an Inner Palace and an Outer Palace. The main buildings in the Outer Palace are three halls the Hall of Supreme Harmony, the Hall of Complete Harmony and the Hall of Preserving Harmony. All of them were built on an eight-meter-high platform and they occupy a total area of 85,000 square meters. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest of three, with a floor space of 2,377 square meters. It is 35 meters high, 63 meters long and 33.33 meters wide. The hall is the largest timber structure in the country.

At the center there is a golden lacquer ware throne set between two golden pillars both decorated with dragons and it was the symbol of feudal and imperial power. Enthroning ceremonies, birthday parties, festival celebrations, ceremonies for sending forces on punitive expeditions and other important activities were held in the hall. To the north is the hall of Complete Harmony where the emperor rested before attending important ceremonies and met people who came to pay their respects there. The Hall of Preserving Harmony at the northern end was the place where banquets were held and candidates sat the final imperial examinations.

North of the Hall of Preserving Harmony is the Inner Palace where the emperor carried out his daily work and the empress, concubines, princes and princesses lived, played and paid their respects to God. The main buildings in the Inner Palace include the Palace of Heavenly Purity, the Hall of Union and Peace and the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. There are 12 palace courtyards on either side. There are also three gardens Longevity Garden, Kindness and Tranquility Garden and the Imperial Garden. They were the playgrounds of the imperial family.

Included in the UNESCO world cultural heritage list in 1987.

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Potala Palace

Situated on Hongshan Mountain in Lhasa, the capital city of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Potala Palace is 3,700 meters above sea level.

In the seventh century, King Songtsan Gambo of the Tubo Dynasty had the princesses of Nepal and Tang emperor as his concubines. To mark the marriage, he built the 999-room palace, which covers an area of 410,000 square meters and has a floor space of 130,000 square meters. The palace is the quintessence of ancient Tibetan architecture and is listed as a world cultural heritage site.

The complex is divided into two sections, the Red Palace and the White Palace. The latter served as the living quarters for succeeding Dalai Lamas and was a place for them to handle political affairs. The Red Palace houses eight funerary stupas of Dalai Lamas covered in sheets of gold. The 13-story main building is 115.703 meters high. Five of the palaces have gilded bronze tiles and are considered holy palaces on highland. The palace was designed and built to take best advantage of the sunlight on the plateau and in its wide and solid foundations there are tunnels and vents. Each hall or bedroom has a skylight to allow daylight and fresh air in. The columns and beams of the palace are carved while the walls are painted with colorful murals. Since ancient times, Tibetans have painted their timber and pottery articles and the murals in the Potala Palace total some 2,500 square meters.

Tangka or Buddhist scroll paintings are usually done on cotton and some are patch work or embroideries. Tibetan ones are painted on cotton cloth. As with paintings, Tangka are based on different themes such as Buddhas and historical figures, as well as history, medicine, architecture and arts. The paintings are usually in vivid colors.

Potala Palace houses many iron, bronze, gold and silver articles, such as weapons, from the Tubo Kingdom. There are also sacrificial articles from the same period and leather, textile, paper, porcelain and carved stone goods as well as gems, seals and the golden documents issued by emperors to the Dalai Lamas.

In 1961 Potala Palace was listed a national cultural site under state protection. The palace was repaired in 1989 with funds provided by the central government.

In 1994 it was included in the world heritage list by UNESCO. Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

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The Great Wall

The Great Wall in north China stretches from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west and is 6,700 kilometers long

Construction of the Great Wall lasted for more than 2,000 years, from the state of Chu in the seventh century B.C. to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and it ran through more than 20 feudal kingdoms and states ruled by dukes or princes. During the Qin, Han and Ming dynasties there was considerable construction with more than 5,000 kilometers built. If all the sections built in various historical periods were put together the Great Wall would be more than 50,000 kilometers long. If building a wall, which is one meter thick and five meters high with the earth and stones of the Great Wall, the wall can circle the earth. The Great Wall was listed as a world cultural heritage site in 1987.

Much of the Great Wall is like a high city wall stretching thousands of kilometers following and crossing the highest mountain peaks. Along its length there are some 100 passes and tens of thousands of watch and beacon towers. These structures and the undulating topography that the wall traverses add to its wonder. The section in Beijing's Badaling is strong and intact and is a good place to enjoy, there are also interesting sections in Jinshanling, Mutianyu, Simatai and Gubeikou. Other well known and popular spots along the wall are the Huangya Pass in Tianjin, Shanhai Pass in Heibei Province and Jiayu Pass in Gansu Province. The Great Wall is a bridge that links the Chinese people with people from other countries and regions.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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The Cave of Peaking man in Zhoukoudian

Peking Man was discovered in Zhoukoudian Village, on the Longgu Mountain, Fangshan District, Beijing, which was listed as a world cultural heritage site in 1987.

In the 1920s archaeologists discovered a complete skull of an ape-man dating back 600,000 years which was later named as Peking Man. Stone tools and evidence of Peking Man's use of firs were later found on the mountain. Studies have shown that Peking Man walked on his feet and lived 690,000 years ago. His society lived in groups in caves and survived by hunting. The group could make use of rough stone tools and knew how to use fire for heating and cooking.

The discovery included six complete skulls of Peking man, 12 skull fragments, 15 mandibles, 157 teeth and some sections of broken femur, shinbone, and upper arm bones belonging to more than 40 individuals of different ages and sexes. In addition 100,000 fragments of stone tools were found together with sites used for fire and burnt bones and stones.

Peking Man created a unique Old Stone Culture, which had much influence to the Old Stone Culture of north China. Stone tools are the principal relics of this remote culture. Also discovered in Zhoukoudian are stone points, a new production tool then, and bone articles made and used by Peking Man. Found in the caves were such tools as the larger end of an antler that had been used as a hammer and the sharp end of an antler used as a digging tool.

The use of fire was a milestone of the development of civilization and the discovery of Peking Man has pushed back the time that man first used it by tens of thousands of years. The largest ash pile discovered in the caves is six meters thick. Fire allowed people to eat cooked food instead of raw food and promoted the development of the brain and improved health. With his rough tools and simple living conditions Peking Man created a unique and very ancient culture.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Summer Palace in Beijing

The Summer Palace is situated in western outskirts of Beijing and is 10 kilometers from the central city. It is world famous and the leading classical garden in China.

The Summer Palace was first built in 1153 and served as an imperial palace for short stays away from the capital. It was rebuilt in 1888 by the Empress Dowager Ci Xi who spent an enormous amount of money on it from funds that had been appropriated to build a Chinese navy.

The two main elements of the garden are Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake. Kunming Lake takes up three quarters of the garden's 290 hectares and there is an exquisite building in the middle of it. The garden is divided into three parts: a political activity area with the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity as its center; the living quarters of the empress with the hall of Jade Ripples and the Hall of Happiness and Longevity at the center, and a scenic area featuring Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. The groups of buildings, hills and lakes, together with the background of West Hills, give an ever changing scene.

The buildings on the southern slope of Longevity Hill are characteristic of the garden. Cloud-Dispelling Hall, the Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha and the Wisdom Sea on the axis line are flanked by the Wheel Hall, Wufang Pavilion and Baoyun Pavilion and are major attractions. The Pavilion of the Fragrance of Buddha is 41 meters high and stands on a 20-meter-high terrace. At the foot of Longevity Hill is the 728-meter-long passageway, which links the three areas together. The passageway is famous for its paintings and at its western end is a 36-meter-long Marble Boat.

The bridges of the western causeway of Kunming Lake are replicas of the bridges of famous Su and Bai causeways on West Lake in Hangzhou. The marble Seventeen-Arch Bridge, which spans the Eastern Causeway to South Lake Island has balusters topped by 540 carved lions, each in a different pose.

Back Lake at the northern foot of Longevity Hill is natural and peaceful. On its bank is Suzhou Street, a replica of a commercial street in the old days. At the northeastern corner of the garden there is the Ganden of Harmonious Interest, which imitates the famous Jichang Garden in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province. Diminutive and elegant, it is known as a garden within a garden.

The Summer Palace was opened to the public in 1924 and it takes one day to view it in detail. Public buses go to the outskirts or a special sightseeing coach can take you there.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1998.

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Mausoleum of Qin Shihuang and Museum of Terra Cotta Warriors

Built for the first emperor in Chinese history, the mausoleum was listed as a world cultural heritage site in 1987. According to Records of History, Qing Shihuang started building his own tomb on Lishan Mountain soon after he came to the throne. Construction expanded after he unified China in 221 B.C. and involved 700,000 laborers. It was completed 38 years later.

The mausoleum has a square rammed earthen base and is still 76 meters high. The coffin and chamber of Qin Shihuang are in the center of the underground palace. The mausoleum site contains more than 400 tombs and vaults of articles buried with Qin Shihuang; they cover an area of 56.25 square kilometers. The main vaults include the vault of the bronze carriage, the vault of horses, the vault of rare and precious birds and animals, the vault of stables and the vault of warriors and horses. Over the past few years, a total of 50,000 historical and cultural relics have been unearthed. The painted and colored bronze carriage, drawn by two bronze horses unearthed in 1980, is the largest and most elegant of its type discovered in China. The carriage is made of more than 3,000 parts, over 1,000 of them gold and silver.

The vaults of the terra cotta warriors and horses are 1.5 kilometers east of Qin Shihuang's Mausoleum and the first was discovered when local peasants were sinking wells during a drought in 1974. There are three vaults. Vault I is 14,260 square meters in area and contains 6,000 life-like terra cotta warriors and horses. On display are 1,000 soldiers, eight war chariots and 32 horses. Vault Ⅱ, which covers an area of 6,000 square meters, contains 1,300 warriors and horses and 89 war chariots. Unlike Vault ( which contains only chariots and foot soldiers, Vault Ⅱhouses warriors, war chariots, cavalrymen, and foot soldiers. Vault Ⅲ is the headquarters of the underground army and is 376.64 square meters in area. In it there are 68 warriors, one war chariot and four horses. The figures epitomize soldiers of the Qin army.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang

The Grottoes of Dunhuang include the Mogao Grottoes, West Thousand-Buddha Cave and Yulin Grottoes. The grottoes are about 25 kilometers southeast of Dunhuang in Gansu Province and are hewn from a steep cliff at the foot of Mingsha Mountain.

In places they are five stories high and their length from north to south is more than 1,600 meters. Work on the grottoes began in 366, the second year of the reign of Jianyuan of the pre-Qin Dynasty. In total there are 492 caves dating back to 16 dynasties including 16 Kingdoms, Northern Wei, Western Wei, Northern Zhou, Sui, Tang, Five Dynasties, Song, Xixia and Yuan. In the caves there are 45,000 square meters of murals, 2,415 color sculptures and some 4,000 celestial figures. In addition there are five timber buildings from the Tang and Song dynasties and 50,000 documents and cultural relics. The grottoes are a treasury of arts including architecture, painting and sculpture as well a treasure house of documents and cultural relics. They were listed as one of the world's cultural heritages in 1987.

Murals from various periods reflect social life, clothing, production, ancient architecture, music, dance and acrobatics and are a historical record of cultural exchanges between China and other regions. The images in the grottoes are a valuable reference for the study of ancient Chinese society from the fourth century to the 14th century. The murals of the Mogao Grottoes are of high historical and artistic value. Those from the Tang Dynasty achieve the highest artistic perfection with strong figures that are well shaped and proportioned and featuring attractive lively images. The painted statues in the Dunhuang Grottoes focus on integration of color and form leaving space for color and lines to supplement each other. Bright colors exaggerate the characteristics of the subjects. The most impressive caves are Cave 96, 17, 130, 158, 259, 285, 200 and 428.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Huangshan Mountain Scenic Area

Huangshan Mountain is in the Huangshan city area, south Anhui Province. The scenic reserve stretches 40 kilometers from north to south and 30 kilometers from east to west and takes up an area of 1,200 square kilometers.

The mountain has a rich history. A legend claims that Emperor Xuanyuan cultivated himself into an immortal on the mountain. Tang Xuanzong, a Taoist, renamed it Huangshan Mountain in 747 and during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) the noted traveler and geographer Xu Xiake inspected it twice. There is a saying that "you have no wish to visit any other mountains after viewing the Five Mountains (Taishan Mountain in Shandong, Hengshan Mountain in Hunan, Huashan Mountain in Hunan, Huashan Mountain in Shaanxi, Hengshan Mountain in Shanxi and Songshan Mountain in Henan) and you do not even wish to visit them after you come back from a trip to Huangshan Mountain."

Huangshan Mountain is famous for its unique and spectacular scenery. There are 36 huge peaks, 36 minor peaks and three main peaks-Lotus Flower Peak, Kaidu Peak and Brightness Summit, which are 1,800 meters or more above sea level, Seventy seven of the peaks are over 1,000 meters above sea level apart from the spectacular rocky peaks there are strangely shaped pines, crystal clear mountain springs and seas of cloud. In the valleys there are Huangshan Pines, a tree unique to the mountain. Thousands of the pines are 100 or more years old and 31 are well known with names such as the Guest-Greeting Pine, guest-Sending off Pine and Lying Dragon Pine. There are 120 sites with spectacular rock formations. The rocks come in a variety of shapes and the big ones make rock forests while the small ones are exquisite. The peaks and dense forests in the deep valleys give rise to seas of cloud and plentiful rainfall. The spring on the mountain are clear and the water is good for drinking and bathing.

Huangshan Mountain is a natural zoo and botanical garden supporting 1,452 varieties of plants and 552 types of animals. Forest coverage is as high as 56 percent. The long history and rich culture of the mountain can be seen in the 200 surviving temples, pavilions, pagodas, zig-zag passages, ancient bridges and stone sculptures. There are hotels and sanatoriums at the base of the mountain and at the top which can now be reached by cableway.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1990.

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Taishan Mountain Scenic Area

Long ago Taishan Mountain was called Mt. Daishan or Mt. Daizong. It was renamed Taishan Mountain during the Spring and Autumn Period. Since 1987 it has been listed as a world cultural heritage site.

Taishan Mountain is in central Shandong Province and is 426 square kilometers in area; its circumference is 80 kilometers. The main peak, Jade Emperor peak, rises 1,545 meters above sea level and is north of Tai'an city. The mountain is an early birthplace of China's ancient civilization and the area around was one of ancient China's political, economic and cultural centers. Seventy two emperors from Xia, Shang and Zhou dynasties built temples on it. After Qin Shihuang (246-209 B.C.), emperors and scholars from various historical periods went to Taishan Mountain and this accounts for the large quantity of precious cultural relics.

Taishan Mountain has 72 majestic peaks, magnificent waterfalls, centuries-old pines and cypresses and fascinating rocks. There are five tour1ist zones and two routes up the mountain-one in the east and one in the west. They meet at Zhongtian Gate and there are 6,293 steps in the nine kilometers leading to the top. Scenic spots include Longtan Reservoir, Zhongtian Gate, Five Doctor Pine, Duansong Hill, 18 Turns, South Gate to Heaven, Bixia Temple, Zhanglu Terrace, Sun-Watching Peak, Moon-Watching Peak. The four wonders of the mountain are Sun Rises from the East, Golden Belt Along the Yellow River, Beautiful Sunset and the Sea of Clouds. Other attractive spots are the Rare Rock Dock, Fan Cliff, Aolai Peak, Black Dragon Pool, Longevity Bridge, and the Dragon Pool Waterfall.

Running from Songshan Valley to the South Gate to Heaven, on the top of Danshan Hill, is a path with 18 turns called Ladder to Heaven. Although the path is little more than one kilometer long it rises 400 meters. The steps along the path are made of Tianshan schist. There is now a cable car from Zhongtian Gate to the top of Wangfu Hill.

Taishan Mountain is one of China's mountain parks and is a natural museum of history and art. Along its axis there are 1,800 stone sculptures including famous ones such as the Cared Road from the Qin Dynasty, the Buddhist Diamond Sutra in Sutra Stone Valley, the Wordless Stone Tablet and the Scripture of Taishan Mountain History carved on Tangmo Cliff. Tiankuang Hall in the Daimiao Temple, which is also on Taishan Mountain is one of the three great halls of China (the other two are the Hall of Supreme Harmony in the Forbidden City, Beijing, and Dacheng Hall in Qufu). The 40 statues of arhat in the Thousand-Buddha Hall of the Lingyan Temple date back to the Song Dynasty and are prized for their individuality and expressiveness.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1987.

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Dazu Stone Carvings

The stone carvings in Dazu date to the Tang and Song dynasties. There are 100,000 images in this group of stone carvings which are found at 70 sites about 14 kilometers from Chongqing. Most are Buddhist but there are Confucian and Taoist images. The stone carvings in Dazu are typical grotto carvings from later historical periods. They are important cultural relics and are under state protection.

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Jiuzhaigou Ravine Scenic Area

Jiuzhaigou Ravine is in Nanping County, Aba Tibetan-Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. The main district stretches 80 kilometers in one direction and takes up an area of more than 60,000 hectares.

There are six scenic spots-Changhai, Jianyan, Nuorilang, Shuzheng, Zharu and Heihai. The area is well known both at home and abroad for its natural scenery which includes snowy peaks, double waterfalls, colorful forests and green sea. Tibetan customs are another attraction. In 1992 it was listed as a world heritage site. The mountains, lakes, natural primeval forest and unique scenes make Jiuzhaigou a fairyland. Mountains ragging 1,980 to about 3,100 meters in height are covered by a variety of trees and plants such as green conifers, luxuriant broadleaf trees and colorful rare flowers and grasses. Scenes change according to the season and the area is particularly colorful in autumn when the wind makes kilometers of tree belt along the lake undulate like a sea wave. Waterfalls, lakes, springs, rivers and shoals add to the color and the green trees, red leaves, snowy peaks and blue skies are reflected from lakes and rivers. Trees grow in the water and flowers blossom in the middle of lakes.

At the Shuzheng Shuzheng Scenic Spot there are 40 lakes and they extend five kilometers along a valley. The spot is a central point in Jiuzhaigou's landscape and covers an area of three square kilometers. The lakes vary in color according to their depths, residues and scenery around them. Reed Lake is an ideal habitat for birds, Spark lake appears to move while the jade-like Rhinoceros Lake is a good place for rowing, swimming and rafting. There are also the Shuzheng Waterfalls which have a backdrop of trees.

Nuorilang Scenic Area extends from the Nuorilang Waterfalls to Zhuhai, an area of three square kilometers. The 320-meter-wide Nuorilang Waterfall drops 20 meters and is the widest highland waterfall in the country; it is the symbol of Jiuzhaigou. Other places of interest include the quiet and mirror like Jinghai Lake, the 310-meter-wide Pearl Beach Waterfall and the Five-Color Lake which has a richly colored underwater landscape.

The Sword-Shaped Rock Scenic Area contains Goose Lake, Suspended Springs, Sword Rock, snow-covered Mountains and primeval forests. Sometimes you can see giant pandas. There is also the 17.8-kilometer Zechawa Ravine, the longest and highest in Jiuzhaigou. At the end of it is the eight kilometer-long Changhai Lake, the largest in the area. In Haizi there is the Five-Color Pond, the brightest lake in Jiuzhaigou.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1992.

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Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) Scenic Area

There are two parts to the Huanglong Scenic Area in Songpan County, Sichuan Province-Huanglong and Maonigou.

The special character of the area, which extends over 700 square kilometers results from formations of talpatate, which give a special color to ponds and beaches. With a background of high mountains, snow covered peaks, valleys, waterfalls, lakes and forests, these talpatate scenes are quite spectacular.

The scenic area provides a variety of unique and wild scenery such as the Huanglong (Yellow Dragon) Ravine, at the foot of the Xuebao Peak in the Minshan Mountain; it is 3.6 kilometers long and 30-170 meters wide. The section from the Fuyuan Bridge at the entrance to the Yuyu Pond is 3,160-3,574 meters above sea level and its surface is a thick layer of light yellow talpatate. In the sunshine, the ravine looks like a golden dragon winding its way through the forest.

In the ravine there are a variety of talpatate scenes, talpatate ponds, beaches, waterfalls, caves and dykes but the colorful talpatate ponds are the most attractive; they come in different shapes, sizes and colors and there are 3,400 of them in eight groups. Huanglong Scenic Area is an important scenic spot and was listed as a world heritage site in 1992.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1992.

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Mansion, Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu

The Mansion, Temple and Cemetery of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province, are cultural sites and attract tourist from both China and abroad. In 1994, they were listed as world cultural heritage sites.

The Mansion of Confucius is the living quarters of the first grandson of Confucius, a great philosopher, educator and a founder of Confucianism. It is also known as Master Yanshen's Mansion because in 1055, or the second year of the reign of Song Emperor Zhaozhen, Kong Zongyuan, the 46th generation male descendant of Confucius was given the title "Master Yansheng." The title was passed down to Kong Decheng, the 77th generation male descendant of Confucius. Built on an area of 160,000 square meters, the mansion has nine courtyards with 463 rooms along the east, west and middle routes. The houses along the middle route are the main part of the mansion. The first four yards contain offices and the other five serve as residences. At the rear is a garden. The mansion stores more than 7,000 volumes of files from 1534 (the 13th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Jiaqing) to 1948 and great quantities of rare and precious cultural and historical relics.

The Temple of Confucius was, in various dynasties, a place for worshipping Confucius. In 478 B.C., the second year after Confucius' death, the ruler of the State of Lu converted the three-room Confucius' former mansion into a temple and this became a place for worshipping Confucius. The temple was constantly renovated and expanded to its present size by emperors of the Western Han Dynasty and following historical periods. It covers an area of 218,000 square meters and is 1,129 meters in length from south to north. There are nine courtyards and 466 rooms along three routes in the left, right and middle. The temple has an outer wall, with four corner towers, which shelters ancient pines. The main buildings along the middle route are Kuiwen Pavilion, Thirteen Stele Pavilion, Xingtan Pavilion, Dacheng Hall, Hall of Confucius' Wife and Shengji Hall. Dacheng hall stands out and is the main hall where Confucius was worshipped.

The temple houses some 2,000 tablets dating from the Western Han Dynasty right up to the founding of New China; they are one of the largest collections of tablets in the country. There are now three exhibition halls displaying tablets from the Han Dynasty and Six Kingdoms of Wei, stone statues from the Han Dynasty and calligraphic carvings on Yuhonglou tablets. The 17 tablets of Han Dynasty are the largest collection in the country by the quantity reserved in one place.

The Cemetery of Confucius is about 1.5 kilometers north of Qufu and is the Confucius family cemetery. It takes up 1.998 million square meters and around it there is a seven-kilometer-long hedge. The pavilions, towers, halls and archways built in various historical periods are set in a forest. Behind the Zhushui Bridge is the graveyard, dating from the Eastern Zhou, which houses the tomb of Confucius, the tombs of his son Kong Li and grandson Kong Ji. The tomb of Confucius is 6.2 meters high and has a circumference of 88 meters.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

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Chengde Mountain Resort and Temples

Chengde Imperial Palace, also known as the Rehe Palace, is in Chengde Mountain Resort.

The palace, which is in the northern part of Chengde City, Hebei Province, was where Qing emperors spent their summer day. Work on the palace began in 1703, the 42nd year of the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi, and was completed in 1792, the 57th year of the reign of Qing Emperor Qianlong. It covers an area of 5.64 million square meters and includes 110 buildings with a combined floor space of 100,000 square meters. There is a 10-kilometer-long zig-zag palace wall and the resort is the largest intact imperial garden and palace wall and the resort is the largest intact imperial garden and palace in China.

The Mountain Resort has a simple and elegant layout. It was built by the natural mountains and rivers and copying the landscape from southern Jiangsu Province and outside of the Shanhaiguan. The palaces in this large-scale imperial garden were built in a style of quadruple courtyards, with blue bricks and tiles.

There are two parts to the summer resort-the palace itself and a scenic area. The palace was where the emperor lived, handled state affairs and held celebrations or ceremonies. it is made up of the Main Palace, the Crane Temple, Wanhe Songfeng and the East Palace. The scenic area includes a Lake District, a District of Plains and a Mountainous District. The Lake District reflects the landscape of the fish-and-rice villages in southern Jiangsu Province. The Rehe Springs are located in the northeast corner. The western part of the Plain District illustrates a grassland scene from Inner Mongolia While in the eastern part there are ancient trees like the forests of Greater Xingan Mountain. The densely forested mountainous area is on an undulating landscape.

To the northeast of the Mountain Resort is a monumental temple complex composed of eight outer temples, which were built from 1713 (the 52nd year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi) to 1789 (the 45th year of Emperor Qianlong's reign). The temples are Furen Temple, Fushang Temple (which has been damaged), Pule Temple, Anyuan Temple, Puning Temple, Xumi Fushou Temple, Putuo Zongcheng Temple and Shuxiang Temple. They were built in Han palace style and drew on the architectural styles of ethnic groups such as Mongolian, Tibetan and Ugyur.

The Pule, Puning and Xumi Fushou temples are the main structures of the complex. The Hall of Brightness in the Pule Temple, which has a double-eaved and doom roof is similar to the Hall of Prayer for Bountiful Harvests at the Temple of Heaven in Beijing. In the Hall of the Bodhisattva of the Puning Temple there is a 22.23-meter-high Bodhisattva, which has 1,000 arms and 1,000 eyes. The statue weighs 110 tons and is the highest and largest wood statue in the world. Putuo Zongcheng Temple was modeled on the Potala Palace in Lhasa and is famous as Lesser Potala.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

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Wuyi Mountain

The 60-square-kilometer Wuyi Mountain is about 15 kilometers south of Wuyishan City in Fujian Province. It is a famous scenic area surrounded by valleys and isolated from other mountains. Places of interest include the Nine-Turning Stream and 36 peaks and 99 rocks. Nine-Turning Stream starts from the Sanbao Mountain and flows through Xingcun Village before entering the Wuyi Mountain area and it is a wonderful experience to float down the stream from the village on a bamboo raft. Wannian Palace in Chongyou, Chaiyang Academy and Hongqiao Bridge are historical sites and other places of scenic interest are Dawang Peak, Yunu Peak, Jiesheng Peak, Lesser Peach Garden and Skyline. There are also many rare plants and animals as well as the Wuyi Mountain Museum of Nature. In 1988 it was listed as one of the world's biosphere protection areas.

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Zhouzhuang Village

Zhouzhuang village is in southwest of Kunshan, Jiangsu Province, and is bordered by the Baixian, Dianshan and Nanhu lakes. The village has a 1,000-year history. In 1086 during the Northern Song Dynasty, Zhou Di, a court gentleman responsible for evaluations, built this village. All the residential houses and shops are next to water and most of the buildings were built in the Ming and Qing dynasties. In the village there are 10 stone arch bridges; two of them, the Shide Bridge and the Yongan Bridge were built in the period 1573-1620, during the reign of Ming Emperor Wanli.

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Ancient Architectural Complex on Wudang Mountain

Wudang Mountain, also known as Taihe Mountain, is located in Danjiangkou City, northwest Hubei Province. It is not only a famous Taoist mountain and birthplace of the art of Wudang boxing but is also known as the site of an ancient architectural complex both at home and abroad. in 1994 it was listed as a world cultural heritage site.

Wudang Mountain, which has a circumference of 400 kilometers has 72 peaks, 36 rocks, 24 ravines, nine springs, eight palaces and two Taoist temples. Tianzhu (Column) Peak, the main peak, rises 1,612 meters above sea level, like a column supporting the sky, and is famous for its uniqueness, silence and beauty. On the mountain there are several thousand cultural relics from the Yuan, Ming and other historical periods as well as a huge Taoist architectural complex. The solemn ancient buildings are well ordered, symmetrical and are spaced so that an echo occurs between them. The complex was started in 1412, the 10th year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty, and was completed 12 years later. It extends 70 kilometers from Jingle Palace in Gujunzhou City to Golden Hall at the top of Tianzhu Peak. There are eight palaces, two Taoist temples, 36 nunneries, 72 temples on cliffs, 39 bridges, 12 pavilions and 10 ancestral temples. The main tourist spots are Xuanyue Gate, Yuanhe Taoist Temple, Yuzhen Palace, Yuxu Palace, Mozhen Well, Fuzhen Taoist Temple, Zixiao Palace, Southern Rock, Taihe Palace and Golden Hall. Two of them, Xixiao Palace and Golden Hall have been placed under state protection.

Zixiao Palace is one of the buildings that is still intact and is located at the foot of Zhanqi Peak, which is northeast of Tianzhu Peak. It was built in 1413, the 11th year of the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle. The palace includes the Dongtian Gate, Dragon and Tiger Hall, Xunbei Stele Pavilion, Shifangzhang, Zixiao Hall and Parents Hall. The five-bay Zixiao Hall, the main building, was built on a three-level terrace; it is double-eaved, nine-ridged and has green tiles and red walls.

The Golden Hall, or Golden Crown, is situated on top of Tianzhu Peak and was built in 1416, the 14th year of the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle. It is 5.54 meters high, 5.8 meters wide and 4.2 meters long and imitates the appearance of a timber structure. The tiles, rafters, ridgepoles, beams and gates are bronze and it was built on a granite base; it weighs more than 80 tons. Its double eaves rise up and on the ridges there are immortals and animals. The hall demonstrates well-developed artistic skills in casting, decorating and gold-plating and it is one of the best known Taoist buildings on the mountain.

Before you enter the hall you have to pass through Zijin City, which has a city wall 1.5 kilometers long, built from 500-kilogram rectangular stone slabs. The wall has four carved gates. Golden Hall is the best place to view the sunrise in the morning and the sea of clouds in the evening.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1994.

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Lushan Mountain Scenic Area

Lushan Mountain is situated in the southern part of Jiujiang City, Jiangxi Province, on the bank of Poyang Lake.

The main scenic spots on the mountain include the Peak of the Five Old Men, Three Step Spring, Hanpo Pass, Lulin Lake, Great Tianchi Lake, Flowerpath, Ruqin Lake, Jingxiu Valley, Immortal's Cavern, Lesser Tianchi Lake, Donglin Temple, White Deer Cave Academy, Lushan Botanical Gardens and Lushan Museum.

Guling Town, the center of the scenic area, is a unique city on the mountain. At an altitude of 1,167 meters, it is surrounded on three sides by mountains. To its north is Scissors Pass. A mountain highway leads to the various scenic spots from the city.

The 1,211 meter-high Hanpo Pass lies between the Peak of the Five Old Men and Jiuqi Peak.Poyang Lake is in the south of Hanpo Peak and its extensive surface is dotted with thousands of boats. Hanpo Pavilion is an ideal place to view the sunrise. To the east of Three-Step Spring is the Peak of the Five Old Men where a waterfall cascades from rock to rock in a total drop of 300 meters. West of Guling is the Flowerpath where the noted poet of the Tang Dynasty, Bai Juyi, wrote poems expressing his admiration of the peach blossoms. Ddonglin Temple on the northwest slope of the mountain is the birthplace of the Pure Land Sect of Buddhism. White Deer Cave Academy is in a valley at the foot of the Peak of the Five Old Men and was one of the earliest institutes of higher learning in ancient China. The Greater and Lesser Tianchi Lakes are beautiful scenic spots on the mountain and contain water all the year round. The Greater Tianchi Lake is an ideal place to view a sunset and enjoy the Yangtze River while the Lesser Tianchi Lake is a good place to enjoy the beauty of the Poyang Lake. Trees surround Lushan Museum on the northern bank of Lulin Lake; it houses ancient Chinese bronzes, pottery from different historical periods, calligraphic works from Tang Dynasty and paintings from Ming and Qing dynasties. The Lushan Botanical Gardens are in a valley to the east of the mountain. At an altitude of 1,000 to 1,300 meters they are sub highland botanical gardens and were founded in 1934. The gardens cover an area of three square kilometers, grow more than 3,400 kinds of plants and preserve 100,000 plant species.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1996.

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Emei Mountain and Giant Buddha of Leshan

Emei Mountain lies seven kilometers southwest of Emeishan City and is one of the four mountain ranges in China that Buddhists consider sacred.

The mountain stretches more than 200 kilometers from south to north. Its main peak, Wanfo Top, is 3,099 meters above sea level. Since ancient times Emei Mountain has been described as "Beauty Under Heaven." Temples were built as early as the Eastern Han Dynasty (24-220) and Buddhism was introduced to the mountain during the Jin Dynasty. In the Ming and Qing dynasties there were more than 150 temples. A legend claims that the mountain was where Samantabhadra gave lectures on Buddhism and most temples house a statue of Samantabhadra. The main scenic spots on the mountain include the Baoguo Temple, Wannian Temple, Fohu Temple, Qingyin Pavilion, Heilongjiang Tunnel, Hongchun Platform, Xianfeng Temple (Jiulao Cave), Xixiang Pond and Golden Summit. These places are at different altitudes and have different climates. Temperatures at the top of mountain are 15 degrees lower than at the foot. The mountain, which supports more than 3,000 varieties of plants and many animals is an important scenic area.

Baoguo Temple sits at the foot of the mountain at the entrance and exit of the mountain area. The temple was built during the reign of Ming Emperor Wanli (1573-1620). About 15 kilometers from the Baoguo Temple is Wannian Temple, one of the main temples in the mountain area. Wannian Temple, or the Temple of Samantabhadra as it was known before the Ming Dynasty, was built during the reign of Emperor Long'an of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (397-401). It has no beams and houses a bronze statue of Buddha Samantabhadra mounted on a six-toothed white elephant cast in 980, the fifth year of the Northern Song Dynasty. The statue is 7.3 meters high and weighs 62 tons. Xianfeng Temple is situated at the foot of the Jiulao Peak and the old halls were built with tin sheets and iron tiles. The intact halls were rebuilt in 1779, the 44th year of the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianhong. At the foot of Fohu Hill, Fohu Temple is located one kilometer west of Baoguo Temple and is one of the largest in the mountain area. It was rebuilt in 1651, the eighth year of the reign of Qing Emperor Shunzhi. It covers an area of 13,000 square meters and is accessible from the highway. At the Golden Summit, the Pinnacle of the mountain area 3,065 meters above sea level, is Puguang hall or Temple. It was constructed during the Eastern Han Dynasty and has been rebuilt several times after being struck by lightning. The Golden Summit is an ideal place to view the sunrise, the sea of clouds, the "Buddhist lights" and "sacred Lamps." Emei Mountain is a well known natural museum with more than 3,000 specimens of plants and 2,000 types of animals including groups of monkeys that appear on the mountain roads and fascinate the tourists.

The Giant Buddha on the east bank of Minjiang Rive in Leshan City, Sichuan Province, rests his feet where three rivers the Minjiang, Qingyi and Dadu-join. The Buddha faces Emei Mountain across the river and at its back is the western slope of Lingyun Mountain. Standing at 70.7 meters with shoulders 24 meters wide it is an impressive sight. A water drainage system reduces erosion by rain and slows weathering.

The statue was begun in 713, the first year of the reign of Tang Emperor Xuanzong, and completed in 803, the 19th year of the reign of the Tang Emperor Dezhong. To the right of the statue a plank road with nine turns was built and it is now famous as the nine-turn plank road; it goes from the bottom to the top.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1996.

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Ancient City - Lijiang

The ancient city of Lijiang is also known as Dayan Town in Lijiangba. It is an intact ancient city inhabited mostly by Naxi ethnic people and covers an area of 1.5 square kilometers.

As its center there is a square. It was first built in 1126 in the late Song Dynasty and in 1253 Kublai (the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty) was stationed here on his march into the south. Lijiang is world renowned as an ancient city built in a simple and artistic style and scientifically laid out. It was listed as a national historical and cultural city in 1986.

Lijiang City is surrounded by Lion Mountain in the west and by Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north. These mountains in the northwest shelter it from the cold wind. In the southeast there are fertile fields, which are dozens of kilometers long. The city is favored with plentiful sunlight, an east wind and clear spring water, which flows in three streams and reaches every family. The streets are paved with the local stone slabs, which do not get muddy in the rainy season and are free of dust in the dry season. Many stone bridges and arches in the city were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties and orderly roads and lanes extend to four directions from the central square. Residential houses are made of timber; most have a screen wall in front and some have a quadruple courtyard. Local people plant flowers in them. The ancient traditional culture of the Naxi ethnic group is the Dongba culture, which is based on the Dongba religion. Believers practice witchcraft, are skilled in medicine and the culture is passed on through literature and art.

The Dongba language has more than 1,300 separate words, which are written in primitive pictographic characters. There are more than 1,400 types of Dongba scriptures written in these characters and they take up 20,000 volumes. The scriptures cover religion, philosophy, history, local customs, literature, art, astronomy, medicine, the calendar, geography, flora, fauna, dancing, painting and music.

Lijiang is also the home of murals painted by people from Han, Tibetan and Naxi ethnic groups who were invited to do so by herdsman Mu during the Ming Dynasty. They cover a total area of 139.22 square meters on 55 walls of Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Hall, Dabao Pavilion and Daque Palace in Laihe. The largest is 2.07 meters by 4.48 meters and contains 600 figures.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997.

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The Ancient City of Pingyao

The ancient city Pingyao is in Pingyao County, Shanxi Province. The city wall was first built during the Zhou Dynasty (c.11th century-256 B.C.) and was expanded in 1370, the third year of the reign of Ming Emperor Hongwu.

The perimeter of this square city is 6.4 kilometers long and the city wall is the earliest and largest intact city wall in China. The one that stands now was built early in the Ming Dynasty and is 12 meters high with an average width of five meters Its body is rammed earth strengthened with a covering of bricks. There are crenels, a water drainage system and the top is floored with bricks. Outside the city wall there is a moat four meters wide and four meters deep. The city has six gates, twoon the east wall and two on the west and one on the south and one on the north. All the gales project outwards and have two doors each. The city has resulted in the name of "Turtle City" with the two gates on the south and north representing the head and tail of the head and tail of the turtle and four gates on the east and west as the four legs. The two doors on the south or on the north stand opposite to each other, like the head of the turtle extending out and two wells just beyond southern gate are like a turtle's two eyes. The outer door of the north gate turns east like the tail of a turtle turned to the right. There is a tower at each gate and seven-meter-high towers at each corner. Along the wall there are platforms 50 meters apart, 3,000 crenels on the outer wall and 72 watchtowers.

The streets, old government offices, shops and residential houses inside the city retain their original styles and shapes and are a model for research on a county town seat of the Ming Dynasty. The city is under national protection.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997.

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Ancient Gardens in Suzhou

Suzhou is located in the south of the Yangtze River Delta and borders Taihu Lake to the west and Shanghai to the east. It is an oriental water city as well as a famous historical and cultural center with a history going back 2,500 years.

It is also a source of the unique Taihu rocks and over a long period many officials built gardens here. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, there were some 200 gardens and the city was renowned both in China and abroad for its small but elegant private gardens. They represent the quintessence of the gardens found in the southern area of Jiangsu Province and demonstrate the varied styles of the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1616-1911). The Blue-Waves Pavilion Garden, the Lion Grove Garden, the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Linger-Here Garden are the most important ones in the city and illustrate architectural styles of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

The Blue-Waves Pavilion Garden is the oldest and was a villa in the old days. Built in a unique style the garden makes use of and combines landscapes outside as well as inside the garden. the garden itself is composed of rocks, green bamboo groves and hills. Bright Path Hall is the largest building in the garden. The west wall of the hall is carved with more than 500 images of celebrities who have figured in Suzhou's history.

Lion-Grove Garden is on the Yuanlin Road in the city itself. The garden, built in the Yuan Dynasty, is famous for its rockeries, most of which look like lions, hence the name. It is small but well arranged and to the southeast there are hills while in the northwest there is water. Around the garden there is a walkway that follows the contours of the land and there are number of buildings that are in perfect harmony with the scenery including Yanyu Hall, Sleeping-Clouds Chamber and Seek-Plum-Blossoms Tower.

The Humble Administrator's Garden on Northeast Street in the city is the largest of its kind in the area. It is one of China's four major gardens and a masterpiece of the private classic garden. About three-fifths of the garden is a water area and most of the major buildings were built beside water; they are simple and elegant. There are a dozen pavilions built in different styles and the garden is divided into three parts-east, middle and west. The middle part features the essential qualities of the garden.

The Linger-Here Garden was first built in the Ming Dynasty. It is famous for its composition and variety. Groups of buildings are used ingeniously to divide and compose the space into ever-changing garden scenes. The garden is divided into four parts-central, eastern, western and northern. The central part is characterized by hills and water and is quiet and peaceful. The eastern part features double-eaved buildings. The northern part has rural scenery and the western part natural scenery. The four parts are linked together by a winding path. The central and eastern parts are the most distinctive.

Included in the UNESCO world heritage list in 1997.

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  Information provided by China National Tourism Administration.

 

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