The Tiananmen

Tiananmen was the front entrance of the Im-perial City of the Ming and Qing Dynasties. In the Ming Dynasty. it was first known as Chengtianmen, meaning “Monarchical Power Coming from Heaven” to rule the country.tiananmen-1Later renamed “Tiananmen”, it was renovated repeatedly. Also called the “National Gate”, it was one from which the emperor came in and out when be got married, personally went on an ex-pedition, worshipped heaven at the Temple of Heaven, attended farming ceremonies at Xiannongtan. On the grand occasions when the emperor was enthroned and the empress set up, the ceremonies to issue imperial edict were conducted at Tianan-men. First, the im-perial edict was placed in a tray, held by the Minister of Rites from the Hall of Supreme Harmony through the Gate of Supreme Harmony. tiananmen2Then,the tray was carried in an imperial kiosk onto the Tiananmen rostrum, right in the centre of which an official read the edict. After that,a wooden phoenix with the edict in her mouth, descended slowly from the rostrum. Princes,dukes,ministers, cholars and gen-tlemen were all ears on their knees in the square. An offical from the Ministry of Rites took over the and sent it to the Ministry,where the edict,transcribed on yellow papers, was released to country. This is what is known as “Golden Phoenix Promulgating Imperial Edict”.

The Forbidden City

Construction of the Palace commenced in 1406, during the Ming Dynasty and was completed in 1420. From completion to now, for over 570 years, the palace endures turmoil rises and falls of dynasties.forbidden1

In 1420, Ming emperor Zhu Di moved the capital from Nanjing to Beijing-formerly known as Peking. In 1911 civil revolution led to abdication of the last emperor of the Qing Dynasty. For over a period of 491 years, the Forbidden City remains to be the capital for 14 Ming emperors and 10 Qing emperors. It has been a symbol of feudalism and the center of power.

forbidden2The palace occupies an area of some 720,000 square-meter with over 9,000 rooms. Historical records showed that it took up to one million laborers and 100,000 artisans to complete the construction project. Original construction materials came from all parts of the country. in the Ming Dy-nasty, the timber needed for building the palace was brought mostly from Sichuan, Hunan and Guangdong Provinces, while in the Qing Dynasty timber from northeast territories were used for renovations and ex-pansions. Bricks with a light golden color were used to pave the floors of the inte- rior halls. Although they are not made of real gold, but since they were spe cially made in Suzhou and cost a good fortune, so people called them gold bricks anyway. All the structures employed red brick walls and yellow glass tiles for the roof. The main buildings were arranged with utmost care to form sym-metrical patterns. The overall layout of the palatial complex place strong emphasis on reflecting the dignity of the emperor and is a master piece of Chinese palatial con-struction. The 1911 civil revolution brought an end to the Qing Dynasty and also marked the con-clusion of the two thous-and years of autocratic feudalism in China. However, the last emperor Po Yi stayed in the palace for thirteen years after the dethroning. Until November 5, 1924, People’s Army drove Po Yi away from the palace and re-named it Palace Museum on October 10, l925 .forbidden3 The Palace Museum is the largest museum in China, with a vast collection of art crafts pieces from ancient times up to the Qing Dynasty. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1945, the museum has under-gone several large scale renovations. Massive compilation works had been carried out over the years to preserve this important historical monument for the viewing of local and overseas tourists.

The Great Wall

It’s more than 2,000 years old, but the Great Wall of China remains one of the greatest wonders of the world, an engineering feat rarely matched in the 22 centuries since its construction began. Stretching 4,500 miles, from the mountains of Korea to the Gobi Desert, it was first built to protect an ancient Chinese empire from marauding tribes from the north. But it evolved into something far greater ¡ª a boon to trade and prosperity and ultimately a symbol of Chinese ingenuity and will.

greatwallThe Mutianyu Grate Wall The section of the Great Wall at Mutianyu is within the bound-aries of Huairou County, 70 km northeast of Beijing. It is one of the sixteen famous scenes in Beijing. Mutianyu joins Juyong Pass in the west and Gubei Entrance in the east. Together with Badaling, it is the quintes-sence of the Great Wall in the Ming Dynasty. On the section of the Great Wall at Mutian-yu the watchtowers are very closely spaced, varied in style and refined in construcion. The Zheng Guan Tower is a building on which three watchtowers crowd together. It is imposing, novel and unique, an asset of the Great Wall. Gazing into the distance on this section of the Great Wall, you are presented with a splendid sight. The wall changes with the mountain slope, leaping onto the peaks one moment, slipping into the low valleys the next, just like a huge dragon rising and ready to fly to the sky. The tourist district of Mutianyu is relatively well equipped in services. A cablecaris buiilt whereby tourists ride cable cars to climb the Great Wall.

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BeiJing, An Ancient City

Beijing’s city walls have a long history. Kublai Khan of the Yuan Dynasty built his capital at the present site, which he called Dadu. Rebuilding and extension operations were carried out on the city during the Ming Dynasty. The city acquired a ermanent shape in the middle of the 16th century.

The constructionof the city of Beijing was carried out under well-thought- out ove-rall planning: the motif that the imperial palaces were to be the dominating feature is clearly manifested in its general layout. The city spreads out on a 7.5-kilometer-long central axis running from south to north.The central axis begins at the Zheng-yang Gate and runs all the way to Tian An Men, which is the main entrance to the Forbidden City. Going fur-ther northward from Tian An Men. the central axis enters the Forbidden City and runs through the Duan Men Gate, the Wu Men Gate, the Tai He Gate, the Tai He Palace, the Bao He Palace and the Qian Qing Palace. Leaving the Forbidden city at the Shen Wu Gate,it runs through the lmperial gardens, the Di An Gate and comes to an end at the Bell Tower and the Drum Heaven and the southern tip of the axis has the Temple of Heaven and the Temple of the Land God and the Grain god.

Further north stand the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of the moon.Situated at parallel locations in the south and the north are the Trmple of Earth and the Temple of Heaven. and Beijing’s streets fan out with this central line as the axis. Beijing used to comprise an inner city and an outer city, both of which were sur-rounded by high walls with gates on all foyr sides;the inner city gad nine gates and rhe outer had seven. The names of the gates have been handed down to this day though all of the walls have been demolished. Almost all of the gates have also been pulled down except the central southern gate of the inner city, the Zheng Yang Gate, which in older days only the emperors could use,the Bell Tower, the De Sheng Gate watch tower and the southeastern corner tower. All of these have now been opened to the public as museums.


With a total area of 440,000 square meters, Tiananmen Square is the largest square in the center of Beijing. For over a hundred years, many ceremony and demonstrations have been held here. The grandeur of Tiananmen Gate (Heavenly Peace Gate) is a national symbol, with the Great Hall of the People on the western side and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History to its east and west. The Monument to the People’s Heroes – the 36 meters obelisk, made of Qingdao granite, dominates the center of the square. The Chairman Mao Memorial Hall and the Qianmen gate, sit in the south.

Tian’anmen Gate

Tian’anmen Gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) was built in the 15th Century and restored in the 17th Century. From imperial days, the yellow glaze-tiled double-eaves tower functioned as a rostrum for proclamations to the assembled masses. October 1, 1949, Chairman Mao Zedong proclaimed the founding of the new China. The tower has five doors and in front of it are seven bridges spanning a stream. Only the emperor could use the central door and bridge. On the top of the central door is a gigantic portrait of Chairman Mao with slogans on each side stating ‘Long Live the People’s Republic of China’ and ‘Long Live the Unity of the Peoples of the World’. Walking through the gate, you can enter the imperial city – Forbidden City with free charge while a panoramic view from the tower costs 15RMB for Foreigners.


Right beside a pair of marble lions in front of the Tian’anmen Gate stand obelisk of marble engraved with entwisting dragons and clouds – an ornamental architecture called Huabiao. Its history can be traced back to the Yao and Shun, legendary kings in remote antiquity. To solicit public criticism, it is said that wooden crosses were erected at marketplaces for people to write down complaints. Later during the Han (206 B.C. — 220 A.D.) wooden posts were replaced by stone pillars, which gradually became the sumptuous columns to palace gates. Huabiao can be usually found in imperial gardens and mausoleums.

On the top is a plate-shape flat called Chenglupan (dew-collecting) on which squats an animal called kong (a legendary animal for watch-keeping) facing to the south. They were called “Wangjungui” or “looking forward to the emperor’s return,” who watched over the emperor’s excursions and called him back. The couple inside the gate facing north, called Wangjunchu or “looking forward to the emperor’s progress,” were considered to supervise the emperor’s behavior in the court when he neglect court affairs.

Great Hall of the People

This is the venue of the legislature, the National People’s Congress. Summit meetings are often held in the 10,000-seat auditorium with the familiar red star embedded in a galaxy of lights in the ceiling. Also you can visit the 5000 seat banquet room where US president Richard Nixon dined in 1972. The admission costs £¡è 15.

Monument to the People’s Heroes (Renmin Yingxiong Jinianbei)

Built in 1958 on the southern side of Tian’anmen Square, this 36-meter obelisk bears brass-relief carvings of key revolutionary events such as the Chinese destroying opium in the 19th century.

Mao Zedong Memorial Hall (Mao Zhuxi Jiniantang)

Behind the Monument to the People’s Heroes is the hall where the embalmed body of Chairman Mao is kept and many Chinese show deep respect when confronted with the physical presence of Mao.

Admission:  15
Opening: 9:00 – 16:30

Tian’anmen square

Though the square itself is not particularly good-looking, it is immense(covering 44 hectares, it is the largest square in the world) and filled with tourists from all parts of China every day. In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People’s Heroes. Directly north is Chang’an Avenue, Beijing’s main drag. Acorss the street is Tian’anmen Gate, which is recognizable instantly by the huge portrait of Mao Zedong hanging on it. Tian’anmen Gate is the gate which leads to the Forbidden City. To the west is the Great Hall of the People, which houses the National People’s Congress, but when Congress is not in session the Hall is the venue for concerts and cultural events. The Great Hall is occasionally rented out for other purposes as well. Off to the east is the National History Museum, on which is displayed a large digital countdown clock, ticking off the days and seconds until the return of Macao to Chinese sovereignty on December 20, 1999. Before July 1, 1997, the same clock was used to count down the days untkl the return of Hong Kong. Back to the south is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, where you can wait in line and be quickly ushered (sans camera) past the crystal coffin where “mao” now lies. Incidentally, the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall is the only attraction in Beijing that has free admission. The other interesting thing to do in the square is to watch the flag-raising ceremony at sunrise. This is the perfect activity for travelers who have not yet recovered battalion of PLA troops marches out each morning and raises the flag exactly at sunrise. Then, at sunset the flag is taken down again. Every tourists gather in the square to watch this solemn ceremony. Exact times for sunrise and sunset are posted next to the flagpole in red, digital numbers. On holidays and special ocasions the square is filled with flower arrangements and fountains. There are people all over the square hawking kites, as it is a popular site for locals to go and fly their kites, which range from simple one-piece jobs, to elaborate meterslong dragons.

Temple of Heaven

Providing all information on the famous attraction in Beijing-the Temple of Heaven.

The Temple of Heaven is situated in the southern part of the city in Chongwen district. As famous as the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, it is a “must” for every visitor.

In ancient China, the emperor was regarded as the “Son of Heaven”, who administered matters on the earth on behalf of the heavenly authority. To show respect to the heaven, ceremonies for sacrifices to heaven were extremely important to the emperor. The temple was built for the worship of heaven and prayers for good harvests. A double wall encloses the temple.

The upper northern half is circular, representing Heaven and the southern half is square, representing the Earth, coincident with the Chinese saying of “Round Heaven and Square Earth”. The main buildings on the north-south axis are The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest with the Pavilion of Double Ring Longevity on the left clustered at the northern end are the Imperial Vaulted Heaven and the Circular Altar at the southern. A 2.5-meter-high, 360-meter-long causeway connects the two parts and is known as the Vermilion Steps Bridge or the Sacred Way. Four Heavenly gates were built on the cardinal points.

Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest

This triple-eaved wooden structure with glazed-tiles and coloured decorative patterns is the most attractive in the temple and is the symbol of Beijing. It stands 38 meters high and 30 meters in diameter on a triple-tiered circular terrace called Altar for Grain Prayer. The terrace is edged with marble balustrades carved with dragons, phoenixes and clouds. Without nails, cement or steel rods, the whole structure was fixed by wooden mortise and wooden brackets with the support of 12 pillars.

Astronomic and calendric episteme are usually employed in the Chinese traditional architecture. There are a total of 28 pillars, which represent 28 constellations. Four thick in the centre symbolize the four seasons of a year, while the inner 12 enclosed represent the 12 months and the outer 12 for two-hour intervals in a day. And the 24 altogether represent the 24 solar terms, of approximately 15 days each, into which the lunar year is divided. The system of the 24 lunar terms is quite important to farmers since it indicates weather changing at the time when it comes round.

The coffered ceiling of the hall is unique, carved in a design of dragons and phoenixes. This may remind visitors of a dome in western churches or Arabic mosques, but different in style and design.

The marble slab floor in the hall was engraved with dragon and phoenix. In the centre, there used to be a long table with screens behind on which the tablets of the Emperor’s ancestors were placed. With predominance of Confucianism, ancestor worship had also become an important feature. Therefore, tablets were enshrined in the Ancestral Temple as well as in the Temple of Heaven. On the left is a chair for the emperor to have rest.

Histrical Introduction of Temple of Heaven

The Temple of Heaven : legitimising the Emperor’s rule

Temple of HeavenThe Temple of Heaven is the most holy of Beijing’s Imperial temples. For this is where the Emperor came every winter solstice to worship heaven and to solemnly pray for a good harvest. Since his rule was legitimised by a mandate from heaven, a bad harvest could be interpreted as his fall from heaven’s favour and threaten the stability of his reign. So, it was not without a measure of self-interest that the Emperor fervently prayed for a very good crop.

In line with the Confucianist revival during the Ming dynasty, the sacred harvest ceremony was combined with the Emperor’s worship of his ancestors. This embellishment was also, in effect, self-interested. For according to the Confucian pattern of social organisation, just as the Emperor respected his ancestors, so a younger brother should respect an elder brother, a wife her husband, a son his father, and a nation’s subjects their ruler. Incorporating ancestor worship within the most solemn ceremony of the Imperial ritual calendar, indirectly reinforced the social philosophy that perpetuated the Emperor’s power.

The design of the Temple of Heaven complex, true to its sacred purpose, reflects the mystical cosmological laws believed to be central to the workings of the universe. Hence, complex numerological permutations operate within its design. For example, because the number nine was considered to be the most powerful digit, you will see that the slabs that form the Circular Altar have been lain in multiples of nine. Similarly within the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest, the interior twenty-eight columns are divided into four central pillars to represent the seasons, twelve inner columns to represent the months and twelve outer columns to represent the two hour tranches that make up a day. There are many such examples of this intense numerology at play.

Whereas in Imperial times commoners were not allowed to enter the enormous park, now for a minimal fee Chinese citizens can enjoy it all day long. Were you to visit at dawn you’d be surprised by the number of people there performing their morning exercises. Next to an older person practising the slow and flowing movements of Tai Qi there might be a younger one performing vigorous karate-like punches and kicks. One group might be learning the ancient martial art of sword-fighting, while another might be practising a traditional dance. Should you have the energy and the inclination, it is well worth waking up early one morning and visiting this park to watch such events take place.

On a parting note – amongst Sir Isaac Newton’s lesser known achievements in the seventeenth century was the design of a nail-less bridge at Queens College, Cambridge. I wonder how he’d have felt to have known that the Chinese had already built the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest on the same principle two hundred years earlier.

Beihai Park

Beihai Park1About one bus stop, or half a kilometer to the west of the north gate of the Forbidden City is the famous Beihai Park. It is used to be the former palace of the emperors in successive dynasties, called the Winter Palace by Westerners.

Early in the 10th century, the Liao dynasty a secondary imperial palace and an island ( Jade Islet) were built here. It was expanded by digging a lake, adding more palace halls when Jin empire took over; during the Yuan dynasty was rebuilt three times. The Ming and the Qing saw more construction and renovation: The Five Dragon Pavilions and the Nine-dragon Screen and pavilions were added. A White Dagoba, an onion-shaped shrine pagoda in Tibetan style, was erected in honor of the fifth Dalai Lama’s visit to Beijing in 1651.

Now it is a popular park with a total area of over 68 hectares, half of which is a lake. It boasts one of the best of China’s classical gardens with artificial hills, pavilions, halls, temples and covered corridors.

Most visitors enter the park through its south gate, touring the island and then walk along the eastern bank to the north gate. Have a rest at the gate and a further stoke along the western bank will feast your eyes on halls, temples and pavilions. Another choice is to enter from the south gate crossing the Beihai Bridge touring the western bank first and then ferry by boat across the lake to the Islet.

Beihai Park2Besides the lake, the main things to see are the Round City, which contains a jade vase from the time of Kublai Khan; the Temple of Eternal Peace; the Nine Dragon Screen, which is actually a 5-metre-high, 27-metre-long wall covered with glazed tiles carved into nine intertwining dragons; and the White Dagoba on Jade Isle in the center of the lake.

Round City

A round building surrounded by a 5-meter-high wall, the Round City stands at the south gate of Beihai Park, and has a distinctive courtyard studded with halls, pavilions and ancient trees.

The Hall of Receiving Light (Chengguangdian) houses a statue of Buddha, 1.5 meters high, carved from a block of lustrous jade, a present from Burma to Empress Dowager Cixi. In the Jade Urn Pavilion at the center of the Round City is a jade urn, 0.66 meter in height and 1.5 meters in diameter, which was believed to be a wine vessel by Kublai Khan. Fancy decorative patterns of clouds, dragons and animals on the surface reveal the exquisite craft of consummate craftsman.

Jade Islet

The Jade Islet, the center of the park, features luxuriant trees and a host of temple halls. Atop the isle is the 35.9-meter-high White Dagoba. The dagoba together with a painting depicting Emperor Shunzhi (the first emperor of the Qing) meeting with the Fifth Dalai is the witness of the Central Government-Tibet alliance at that time. The top is a gold-gilded copper lid decorated with dozens of bells with jingle far in the wind. In front of the Dagoba stand the Temple of Enternal Peace (Yong’an si) and Hall of Universal Peace. At the back of the island is Hall of Rippling Water.

West Bank

Opposite the Jade Isle across the lake on the west bank are unique buildings. The Five-Dragon Pavilions – a zigzag line of five glaze-tiled pavilions over the water were built in 1602 and renovated several times under the Qing. The Qing emperors used to go fishing there.

The Iron Shadow Screen ( Tieyingbi), 3.56 meters long and 1.9 meters high, was built in the Yuan. The iron-colored screen was carved out of neutral igneous rock.

Nine-Dragon Screen

Just like the one in the Forbidden City, the screen is built with colored glazed-tiles, It was used to protect a temple (no long there now) from invading evil spirits, and is considered an art treasure and one of the best of its kind.

In summer, Beihai is an ideal place to escape from heat.

Beijing Palace Architecture

Palace Architecture – its incorporation of the occult sciences

Beijing Palace ArchitectureHome of the Emperor, the Forbidden Palace was constructed in accordance with the laws of geomancy or fengshui. Every element was considered according to its prescriptions, the most fundamental being the positioning of the palace along a north-south axis.

The occult art of numerology similarly played a significant part within the palace’s architecture. Since odd numbers are thought to be masculine and even ones feminine, the number nine, the “ultimate masculine” number, was associated with supreme Imperial sovereignty. It is therefore employed continuously in the palace, for instance in the number of studs on the gates. Likewise, the towers guarding the four corners of the palace each have nine beams and eighteen columns. But its most conspicuous application is in the fact that the Forbidden Palace is comprised of 9,999 rooms.

A further element differentiating palace architecture from other traditional Chinese forms includes the specific designation of colored glazed tiles. While these were applied to the roofs of many aristocratic homes, the use of yellow tiles was exclusively reserved for Imperial palaces, mausoleums, gardens and temples. The association of the color yellow with the Emperor originated with the idea that the great Yellow River was the cradle of Chinese civilization. As a result yellow also represents the concept of earth in the Chinese occult universe. Green was used on palace buildings reserved for court officials, while red, signifying happiness and solemnity was generally used on doors.

Prevalent throughout the palace are elements of zoomorphic symbolism. The most apparent of these is the use of the dragon and phoenix, symbols of the emperor and empress. Omnipresent in the palace, these legendary animals have been found on objects dating back as far as three thousand years. Another frequently seen animal is the lion who guards various entrance gates. Always found in a pair, the lion on the left is male and holds a ball symbolic of imperial unity. The one on the right is female and plays with a lion cub, symbolic of fertility. As the lion was thought to be the ruler of the animal kingdom, it represented qualities of power and prestige.

Interesting also are the animal ornaments found on imperial rooftops. The mystical animal at the outermost tip was thought to be the son of the Dragon King-ruler of the sea. With powers over the waters, this animal was thought to protect the palace buildings from fire. Along the roof edges are various smaller animals, the sizes and numbers of which differ according to the rank and status of the dweller within.

Zhongshan Park

Zhongshan Park is located to the west of Tian’anmen Rostrum in the heart of the Inner City. It is the site of the former Altar of Land and Grain.

Entering through the main southern entrance, one comes to a large vestibular pavilion with long corridors running off to the east and west. In front of the pavilion is a white marble memorial archway erected by the Qing government to commemorate the German Minister Baron von Kettler, who was killed during the Yihetuan Movement ( “Boxer Rebellion” ) in 1900. This archway originally stood outside the western entrance to the Xizongbu Alley, but after Germany’ s defeat in World War I, it was removed to the Zhongshan Park and inscribed with the words “Triumph of Righteousness” (Gongli Zhansheng). After 1949 it was rein scribed in Guo Moruo’ s handwriting with “Defeat the Peace” (Baowei Heping).

To the east stands a beautiful specimen of Taihu Lake stone known as “a slice of dark clouds,” which was moved here from uanmingyuan. Emperor Qianlong composed its inscription. There is a peony pond, a wisteria arbor and, to the north, a grove of cypresses with trees said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty. Seven of the trees are so large that it takes three of four persons with arms outstretched to encircle the trunk. One of the cypresses on the eastern side is particularly unusual, because a scholar trees is called “the embrace of the scholar tree and the cypress.” The path that runs through the archway is lined with umbrella-like scholar trees and verdant pines.

On the southern side of this east-west path lies a greenhouse with fresh flowers on display all year round. Included are 39 varieties of tulips presented to the park in 1977 by the Princess of Holland. The eight “Orchid Pavilion” stela, standing inside a hall nearby, are engraved in the hand of Emperor Qianlong with the text of a famous preface to a collection of poems entitled the Orchid Pavilion. The Pavilion Where the RITES Are Practiced was moved to the Zhongshan Park from the Honglu Court, an office which during the Ming and Qing dynasties. In imperial times all officials coming to the capital to be received by the emperor for the first time went first to the Honglu Court to learn the proper protocol.

To the south of this path there is also a display of rare goldfish. Further south, one comes to the quietest spot in the park, the area of the Lotus Pool, Water-side Pavilion, Pavilion of Four Contentment and the Pavilion to Welcome the Sunshine.

On the north side of the path is the Altar of Land and Grain. Here the landscape is particularly charming. With the lofty Concert Hall to the east and the Health Education hall to the west. The area is planted with numerous fruit trees, herbaceous peonies and green lawns. A wide path through the center of the lawns leads to the altar.

To the east of the altar is the Pavilion of the Pines and Cypresses and a tall rockery. Footpaths lead to secluded nooks and wind their ways to the cross-shaped Touhu Pavilion, which takes its name from an old game of throwing arrows into a pot. South of this building lies the Kiosk for Meeting New Friends (Laijinyuxuan) where refreshments are sold.

To the west of the Altar of Land and Grain is the liveliest part of the park. Here among a forest of cypress trees stand artificial hills, thatched pavilions, a teahouse, a restaurant, a children’ s playground and an amusement park.

To the north of the altar past the Zhongshan Hall is another copse of cypress trees, among which is a stone table built of hollow bricks dating from the Han Dynasty. The classically elegant designs on the old bricks are still quite distinct. The moat (Tongzihe or Tube River) is also known as the Imperial River (Yuhe) and is used for ice skating in the winter and boating during the summer and autumn.

Over 1,000 years ago the site of Zhongshan Park was the Temple of National Prosperity, which stood in the northeast suburbs of Yanjing, the Liao Dynasty capital. Under the Yuan Dynasty, the name of the temple was changed to the Temple of Longevity and National Prosperity. Although no traces of the old buildings remain, the ancient cypresses planted inside the temple serve as a reminder of those days. In 1421, the Ming Emperor Yongle built the Altar of Land and Grain symmetrically opposite the Imperial Ancestral (Taimiao) Temple, which stands to the east of Tian’anmen Rostrum. In 1914, the altar was renamed Central Park and opened to the public on October 10. In 1928, the park was renamed Zhongshan Park in tribute to the memory of Sun Yat-sen.

Zhongnanhai (Central and South Lakes)

Immediately to the west of the Forbidden City is a large lake area which court officials of the Qing Dynasty called the Western Lake (Xihaizi) or the Pool of Great Secretion (Taiyechi). Centuries ago, this stretch of water was divided into three sections- North Lake (Beihai), Central Lake (Zhonghai) and South lake (Nanhai). The area between Xinhuamen (New China) Gate on Chang’ an Boulevard in the south and Yingtai (SEA terrace Island) in the north is called South Lake. The area north of the Hall of Diligent Government (Qinzhengdian) and south of the Hall of Endless Blessings (Wanshandian) is called Central Lake. It is connected to South Lake by a lock near the old eastern gate. The area north of the Hall of Received Brilliance (Chengguangdian) and south of the Five-Drag-on Pavilions (Wulongting) is known as North Lake or Beihai. A long white marble bridge-the Golden Tortoise Jade Rainbow Bridge-divided Central Lake from North Lake. The water supply for the lakes comes from the Jade Spring Mountain (Yuquanshan) to the west of Beijing and enters the city at the Deshengmen (Moral Victory) Gate in the northwest corner of the old city.

The fine natural hills and ponds in this area inspired the emperors of the Liao Dynasty to choose it as their pleasure park. During the Jin Dynasty, North Lake became the site of the emperors’ winter palace. In the Yuan Dynasty, the lakes were enclosed as part of the Imperial Palace in the new Mongol capital of Dadu, and the lakes were called the pool of Great Secretion (Taiyechi). The lakes were then widened and deepened, and the mud dredged heaped up to the north of the Forbidden City to form Prospect Hill (Jingshan). They attained their present dimensions of two kilometers from north to south and, at their widest point, 200 meters from east to west.

When Emperor Yongle rebuilt the Imperial Palace in 1417, he extended the walls to enclose both the former Yuan palace and gardens to the west. In the Ming and Qing, the area became known as the Western Gardens (Xiyuan) and continued to serve palace residents as a place of leisure. During the Qing Dynasty, refurbishment of the area continued on a grand scale. The majority of the structures and relics, which remain today date from that period.

After the demise of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, Zhongnanhai (the Central and South Lakes) were turned into a park for a short period of time and served as the headquarters of the government of Yuan Shikai. It is now the headquarters of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council of the People’ s Republic of China.

Nanhai (the South Lake)

The main gate of South Lake is Xinhuamen (New China) Gate, which was originally known as the Precious Moon Tower. This was the famous Gazing Home Tower (Wangxianlou) built by Emperor Qianlong for his favorite Muslim Concubine Xiang (Fragrant Consort). To remind this homesick lady if her native Kashgaria (in present-day Xinjiang). Qianlong had a mosque and Islamic-style marketplace built within view of the tower. After the establishment of the Republic of China in 1912, the Xinhuamen (New China) Gate was refurbished and the signboard for Yuan Shikai’ s presidential residence was hung here.

The gate is today the official entrance to the headquarters of the people’ s government, but visitors to the scenic areas must enter by a gate at 81 Nanchang Street. A short distance to the north, one comes to a pavilion, the floor of which contains stone-lined channel which makes nine turns. The bubbling of the water in the channel gives this spot the name Flowing Water Music (Liushuiyin). To the west is the Hall of Diligent Government (Qinzhengdian) where Emperor Guangxu administered affairs of state. When Yuan Shikai took up residence in Nanhai, he rebuilt the hall in Western-style and used it to receive foreign guests.

To the south is a curving bridge to the Sea Terrace Island (Yingtai), which is actually a peninsula in the South Lake. The tall granite structure on the other side of the bridge is the Southern Terrace (Nantai), the principal viewing place in this section of the park. The buildings here date from the reigns of emperors Shunzhi (1644-1661) and Kangxi (1662-1722). Among the dozen or so poetically named pavilions, gates, halls and towers, we shall only mention the following: the Hall of the Fragrant Screen (Xiangyidian), where there is a room set aside for drinking tea; the Fairy Isles Pavilion (Penglaige), next to which stands a specimen of fossilized pine nearly three meters tall-an inscription nearby attributes the stone to the Six Dynasties period (220-589); on each side of this stone are several flower beds, and in front of it a stone bridge which leads to a pavilion on the water known as the Welcoming Fragrance Pavilion (Yingxunting), where there are numerous stone inscriptions praising the virtues and achievements of the emperors. Looking south across the water from there, one can see the north side of the screen wall, which stands directly inside New China Gate.

Among the other relics on the island are a group of imitation stalagmites inscribed with the calligraphy of Emperor Qianlong and another stone inscription in the same emperor’ s hand commemorating a willow tree in the shape of the Chinese character for man which once stood on this spot. A limb of this willow was bent by a strong wind, and some kind soul moored one of its branches to the ground to support the rest of the tree. This branch actually took root and the resulting grotesquely shaped tree so delighted Emperor Qianlong that he composed a prose poem about it.

The Sea Terrace Island was one of the favorite summer resort spots of Qing emperors. Kangxi and Qianlong both administered the empire from here, and after the failure of the Reform Movement of 1898, Emperor Guangxu was imprisoned here by Empress Dowager Cixi. He died in 1908 in the Hanyuan (Cherishing the Origin) Palace. In the early years of the Republican period, Yuan Shikai arranged for Li yuanhong, vice-president of the Republic, to make his residence here. After the establishment of the People’ Republic of China in 1949, various departments of the State Council made use of its many halls to hold private small-scale industrial exhibitions. A major restoration project was completed in 1975.

Northwest from the Sea Terrace Island, one comes to the Garden of Plenty (Fengzeyuan), in which there is a small plot of land called the Trial Sowing Grounds (Yangengdi) where the Qing emperors rehearsed on a somewhat smaller scale the plowing ceremony held at the Altar of the God of Agriculture. One particular rehearsal which took place in 1888 is recorded in the diary of Weng Tonghe, Emperor Guangxu’ s tutor: Shortly after 9 a.m. the emperor arrived at the yellow tent by palanquin, rested for a short while, and removed his long gown. Officials presented him with a plow and a whip, and Weng Tonghe sowed the seeds. Two old peasants led the oxen, and with imperial guards supporting the plow, the emperor sowed four furrows. His Majesty then rested in the yellow tent and frank tea before returning to the palace. Having been touched by the dragon hands of the emperor, this ceremonial plow became a sacred object. It is now on display in the Palace Museum.

Mao Zedong’s former residence, a traditional Beijing home built around a courtyard, is also here in the Garden of Plenty. Chairman Mao occupied the rooms on the northern side of the courtyard; the rooms to the west now display his personal effects; his office and bedroom to the east remain exactly as before, with the late Mao’ s desk, bathrobe and slippers on display. In Qing times, these rooms were known as the Library of Chrysanthemum Fragrance.

To the west of the Garden of Plenty is the Pavilion of Lotus Breeze and Orchid-Scented Dew (Hefenghuiluting), and immediately to the south, an elegant white marble gateway with the inscription Peaceful Valley (Jinggu) carved into its lintel.

In addition, a number of other buildings not yet open to the public are worthy of mention. The Hall of the Calm Sea (Haiyantang), a Western-style structure, was formerly used by Cixi for entertaining women guests. The hall is furnished with chairs and tables in Louis XY style imported from France. When Yuan Shikai came into power, he changed its name to the Hall of Benevolence (Jerentang) and continued to use it for entertaining visitors. In 1927, when the warlord Zhang Zuolin took over Beijing, he made the Hall of Benevolence his home. And in 1923, when the warlord Cao Kun was president of the Republic, he too made his offices here. When the Christian General Feng Yuxiang captured Cao, it became his prison.

In the South Lake district, there is an interesting set of 10 square stones, each inscribed with a poem written by different people. Though the nearby Swastika Corridor (Wanzilang) has been torn down, to the south of its former site stands the Stone Chamber (Shishi), built entirely of white marble. Inside the chamber is a golden casket –actually a gilded safe — which played a critical role in the history of the early Republic. In 1914, Yuan Shikai reformed the Laws for Electing the President by having the names of three reselected candidates for his succession-including his own-placed inside the safe. When the time came, his specially appointed parliament had little choice but to choose Yuan as the new president.

The most impressive in the South Lake area are the groves of old trees, elms conspicuous for their absence. One day in 1883, Empress Dowager Cixi was out for a stroll when a caterpillar fell from an infested elm and stung her hand. Enraged she ordered all the elm trees in that area cut down.

Zhonghai (the Central Lake)

The area north of the Hall of Diligent Government to Fuhuamen Gate is full of pre-and post-liberation buildings which, with the exception of the Hall of Embracing Benevolence (Huairentang), are not open to the public.

The Hall of Embracing Benevolence is the most important building in the Central Lake area. It was originally the site of the Hall of Imperial Pomp (Yiluandian), which was destroyed by the Eight-power Allied Forces. When Cixi returned to Beijing from Xi’ an, she spent more than 5 million silver dollars to erect a Tower of Buddhist Reflections (Fozhaolou). During the first year of the Republic of China (1912), the tower’ s name was changed to the Hall of Embracing Benevolence. The National Assembly and other governing bodies of the early Republic met here. After Yuan Shikai’ s death, the former president’s coffin was kept here temporarily. After 1949, the hall was used for meetings of the First People’ s Political Consultative Conference and other important political bodies. In front of the hall is a display of cultural relic: 12 bronze statues with animal heads and human torsos; bronze lions decorated with cloisonne; commemorative tablets; and images of the 12 animal signs used to symbolize the year in which a person is born. Local school children are occasionally brought to visit.

On the northwest bank of the Central Lake is another important structure, the tower of Vermilion Light (Ziguangge), also called the Flat Terrace (Pingtai), where Emperor Zhengde (reigned 1506-1521) of the Ming Dynasty watched his troops practice calisthenics and archery. These displays continued during the Qing Dynasty when portraits of meritorious officials from past dynasties hung inside the tower’s hall. In the first lunar month of every year, the emperor would hold a banquet here in honor of his ministers. Fine old maps and paintings are preserved in the tower in excellent condition.

The northeast bank of the Central Lake is the location of the famous Plantain Garden (Jiaoyuan) or Virtuous Garden, the former site of the Ming Dynasty Palace of Sublime Wisdom (Chongzhidian). The path leading north along the eastern side of the lake is lined with scholar, willow and fruit trees as well as pavilions and small decorative buildings. During the Qianlong period (1736-1796), the Plantain Garden served as a schoolroom for the younger eunuchs who lived in the palace. On the Buddhist Ghost Festival, celebrated on the evening of the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, floating lanterns were sent out to sea, turning the lakes into a field of twinkling stars.

To the north of the Plantain Garden is the Temple of Endless Blessings (Wanshandian). The main hall contains images of the Three Buddhas — the Goddess of Mercy (Guanyin), Manjusri (Wenshu) and Samantabhadra (Puxian) — and the eighteen disciples of Buddha (Luohan). At the rear of the main hall is a statue of the Goddess of Mercy of the Southern Seas (Nanhai Guanyin). The Hall if a Thousand Buddhas stands tot eh rear of this temple complex with an octagonal sandalwood pagoda seven storied high dating from the Ming Dynasty. Other halls house sculptural representations of legendary emperors, Buddhas and other gods and immortals. Of particular interest is the Hall of the Dragon Kings (Longwangtang) housing images of the dragon kings, which govern streams, rivers, lakes and seas.

From the eastern gate of the Plantain Garden walking north, one will pass a small hill and pond before coming to a thatched gate. Continuing down the path, there is the Pavilion of Clouds on the Water (Shuiyunxie). Its name is derived from the way it appears to float amidst clouds reflected on the lake.

A large stone tablet inscribed with the calligraphy of Emperor Qianlong, Autumn Winds on Taiye, immortalizes this spot as one of the Eight Great Sights of Yanjing.

Temple of the Poor and the Wild Mulberry (Tanzhesi)

The Temple of the Poor and the Wild Mulberry was first built in the Western Jin and Eastern Jin dynasties (265-420), when it was known as the Temple of Excellent Blessings. In the Tang Dynasty it was renamed the Dragon Spring Temple and in the Jin Dynasty rebuilt as the Temple of Longevity. Additions were made to it in the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, and during the Kangxi reign it was rebuilt and renamed the Temple of Hill and Cloud.

The present name of the temple refers to the Dragon Pool (Longtan) above the temple and the wild mulberry (zhe) trees growing in the surrounding hills. From the old saying, First there was Tanzhe and then there was Youzhou (a name for the Beijing region dating back to the sixth century), one can imagine the antiquity of the temple. Legend has it that the pool was originally called the Green Dragon Pool (Qinglongtan). When the famous Tang monk Fa Zang came here to preach, a green dragon residing in the pool was so frightened of the monk’s supernatural powers that it fled. That day at dusk a violent storm broke out and the pool was transformed into a flat plain.

The temple is located in Beijing’s Western Hills, on Tanzhe Hill, 13 kilometers west of Mentougou, and laid out along three axes.

The central axis consists of the main gate and the front, main and rear halls. Many cultural relics are to be found in this architectural group, the most interesting being a statue of Princess Miaoyan, daughter of Kublai Khan. According to legend, the temple as a nun. She worshiped the Bodhisattva Guanyin so devoutly that the particular flagstone upon which she stood and kowtowed soon developed three indentations in it-two from her feet and one from her head. Among the other relics is an image of the monk Yao Guangxiao, an imperial tutor during the Ming Dynasty. On the eastern side of the Mahavira Hall stands an ancient gingko tree known as the Emperor’s Tree. It is nearly 30 meters high and is said to have been planted in the Liao Dynasty. There is another symmetrically placed gingko growing on the western side of the hall called the Emperor’s Companion Tree. The pines along the central axis are particularly grand and besides them there are magnolia and sal trees and a variety of other rare flowers and shrubs. Climbing up to the Vairocaca Hall (Piluge), one can obtain a good view of the entire temple. Hanging under the eaves of the Hall of the Dragon King is the famous stonefish. This one-meter-long sea creature weighs 150 kilograms and is carved out of a meteorite. When struck it resounds with a clear bell-like tone.

On the eastern axis are the rooms where the Qing emperors rested during their visits to the hills. The architectural style employed here differs substantially from that in the temple.

A bamboo grove has been planted in the northern section of this part of the temple, and through a dragon-head spout set in an adjacent wall, water from two mountain springs bubbles forth and flows through a curving watercourse carved in white marble which forms the base of a small kiosk.

The western axis is comprised of a number of scattered buildings. Although the overall layout gives the impression of solemn regularity, the square and round Buddhist halls with their colorful glazed tile roofs are very beautiful. The highest point in this section is the Hall of the Goddess of Mercy. Great numbers of tiny bells hang from its corners and make a delightful tinkling sound when the wind blows.

Outside the main gate are two other points of interest: the Hall of Peaceful Joy (Anletang); and the stupa park, containing the tombs of monks from the Liao and Jin dynasties. Originally, there were numerous wild mulberry trees in the park, but now only one remains in the eastern section.

Miaoying Monastery and White Dagoba

The Miaoying Monastery is situated on the north side of Fuchengmennei Street in the West City District of Beijing.

The Whiter Dagoba in the monastery was first built in 1096 of the Liao Dynasty and was considerably expanded and elaborately redecorated in 1271 during the reign of Emperor Shizu (Kubla Khan) of the Yuan Dynasty.

A passage from Chats of a Visitor to the Capital (Chang’an Kehua), written during the Ming Dynasty, describes the dagoba in these words: From the corners of the buildings hang pestle-like jade ornaments. Stone balustrades line the platform. Beneath the eaves dangle countless strings of wrought iron flowers. Bells tinkle overhead in the wind. The golden apex of the dagoba glitters in the sun. Seen from afar, the lustrous ornaments appear like a galaxy of stars. The present-day brilliance of the dagoba’ s surface is due to the fact that it is painted with an expensive whitewash containing a high percentage of pulverized seashells. A local joke relates that if it were not for this whitewash, the monument would soon become a black dagoba.

In 1279, the monastery was renovated and renamed the Temple of the Emperor’ s Longevity and Peace (Dasheng Shou’ ansi), but was destroyed by fire 12 years later.

In 1457, a new monastery was built in its place, which was given the name it retains to this day, the Miaoying (Divine Retribution) Monastery. At the same time, 108 iron lanterns were installed around the base of the dagoba.

A verse from an early description of the monastery runs as follows: The monastery embellishes the capital with its lofty dagoba rising above the skyline. In the wee hours of the night, the fragrance of incense drifts about beneath the lone bright moon.

The dagoba in the Miaoying Monastery is today the largest structure of its kind in Beijing. It rises to a height of 50.9 meters, making it 15 meters taller than the dagoba in Beihai Park, and has a diameter of oven 30 meters at its base. Thirteen broad circular bands of molding, called the Thirteen Heavens, divide its surface. At the apex of the cone is an umbrella-like bronze disc structure with 36 bronze bells hanging from its rim. At the very top is a small bronze pagoda, in itself a work of art.

Today the Whiter Dagoba stands as a symbol of cultural exchange between China and Nepal. In the Yuan Dynasty, a Nepalese architect named Arnico played an important role in its design and construction. It is said that while in China, Arnico helped to build three pagodas: one in Tibet, another on the Wutai Mountain in Shanxi Province and the third the White Dagoba in Beijing. For his work, the Yuan court posthumously conferred on him the title of Duke of Lianguo.

Down through the centuries, many wonderful legends have been woven around the White Dagoba, the most popular of which relates to Lu Ban, the master carpenter who lived in the Spring and Autumn Period. It is said that Lu Ban repaired the dagoba when it cracked by binding it with seven broad iron hoops. Though impossible to authenticate, this story attests to a high level of skill in forging and riveting in early times.

In 1976, the tremors of the Tangshan earthquake caused serious damage to the monastery buildings. The top of dagoba tilted to one side, bricks and mortar in the comical neck supporting the cupola crumbled off, and the main trunk cracked in several places.

In September 1978, the Beijing Department of Cultural Relics undertook the work of repair and reinforcement. The courtyards, the four corner-pavilions, the Hall of the Buddhas of the Three Ages, the Hall of the Heavenly Kings (Tianwangdian) in front of the dagoba, the Hall of the Seven Buddhas and the dagoba itself were repaired and renovated.

At this time, a number of valuable objects were discovered. A square box, a round box and two oblong boxes of different lengths were found in a hidden recess inside the dagoba. And at its apex a box containing numerous Buddhist scriptures was discovered.

The square box covered with copper and contains a folded map wrapped with finely woven multicolored silk threads. The design of the dagoba appears on both sides of the map.

The larger oblong box contains calligraphy of Emperor Qianlong, four silver urns filled with jewelry, rosaries and coins of the dagoba appears on both sides of the map.

The large oblong box contains calligraphy of Emperor Qianlong, four silver urns filled with jewelry, rosaries and coins of different dynasties, bronze images of the Buddhas of the Three Worlds, a hada (a piece of silk used as a gift among the Tibetan and Mongol groups) and several pieces of brocade.

The small box contains only a colorful image of the Goddess of Mercy (Guanyin) and, at the bottom of the image’s lotus-flower throne, an alms bowl containing 33 pieces of shelizi (luminous stones reputed to have been drawn from the ashes of Buddha’s cremated body). The round box contains a pentagonal Buddhist headdress and an applique brocade robe, which were encrusted with a total of approximately 1,000 rubies, sapphires and coral beads.

Huangpu River

The scenic Huangpu River

Cruise on the Huangpu River
Huangpu RiverRiding a cruise boat along the Huangpu River. you will take a glimpse of the today and yesterday of Shanghai. On one side of the river. there is the Bund, a landmark of Shanghai. Lining the boulevard of the waterfront are grandiose solid buildings of Western style dating back to the early this century. You will also see the Park bridge. the first toll bridge in Shanghai; the People’s Heroes Monument and Huangpu Park, the city’s first park. On the other side is the image of a new Shanghai. Lofty Oriental pearl TV Tower and sleek high-rises in the Lujiazui Financial Zone give a fresh outlook of the city. On the cruise, you will also marvel at the two giant suspended bridges over the river. Cargo slips that sail to and fro on the river will make you realize how busy the trading business is ongoing in this most bustling trade outlet of China. Sailing further northward, you might be impressed by the scale of industrial plants, such as the steel giant Baosteel.The cruise will end at Wusongkou, where the Huangpu River flows into the East China Sea.

Shanghai Stadium

Shanghai Stadium1Shanghai Stadium is a giant sports facility boasts unique designing. Covering a floor area of 190,000 square meters, the stadium is a sphere in an radium of 300 meters. The saddle-shaped stadium has a total construction space of 150,000 square meters Above audiences’ stands there are awnings that could be spread out in case of raining and big sun. The stadium can seat 80,000 audiences. In addition to playing host to sports games and performances, the stadium also has facilities for dining, accommodation, conferences and exhibitions. The exhibition hall at the southern part of the stadium can play host to various seminars and press conferences.Shanghai Stadium2

Yu Garden

Yu Garden, a classical garden in downtown Shanghai, boasts a history over 400 years. Each pavilion, hall, stone and stream in the garden is expressing the quintessence of South China landscape design from Ming and Qing Dynasty. Over forty spots, divided by dragon walls, wound corridors and beautiful flowers, form an unique picture featuring one step, one beauty; every step, every beauty. It’s reputed to be the most beautiful garden south of the Yangtze River. Yu Garden1

Yu Garden2Built beside the Temple of the City God and covering only fives acres, it follows the Suzhou garden design of a world in microcosm, with 30 pavillions linked by corridors, artificial hills, bridges over lotus pools, groves of bamboo and walls occupied by stone dragons. The surrpounding bazaar is packed with traditional and modern shops, restaurants and temples.


GardenLocated in Chenxiang Town, Jiading County, the Qiuxia Pu Garden(Autumn Clouds Garden) was built in 1502(Ming Dynasty). It is the oldest garden in Shanghai and one of the famous classical gardens in the south of China. When first built, it had 10 sites such as shuyuzhai, Sanyintang, Goufengling, Yingyudi, Suihanjing, Baiwutai, Taohuatan, etc.

Fang Ta

Fang TaLocated on Zhongshan Road(E) of Songjiang County, the Fang Ta was erected in Yuan You period of the Song Dynasty(949-1094 AD.),has a history of 400 years. It is one of the best-known pagodas south of the Yangtse River and follows the type of Buddhist square pagoda of Tang Dynasty. In front of the Square Pagoda stands a brick screen wall on which is sculptured a legendary creature named “Tan” featuring deer’s antlers, lion’s tail , dragon’s scale and ox’s hoofs.

This pagoda was completed in the 11th century under the Song dynasty, although it is in the style of the earlier Tang dynasty, marking the period in which construction began. Recently restored in its former elegance, over half of the original wood is still intact.

Longhua Pagoda

LONGHUA Temple and pagoda in the southwest area of the city was a major tourist attraction for foreigners in the days of Old Shanghai. It has eight sides and seven storeys and was first built in the year 274AD. The pagoda itself is closed but can easily be seen from the road. The temple complex opposite is huge, featuring several impressive Buddhas,including one who looks like a serene Bart Simpson. 2853 Longhua Lu.Longhua Pagoda

Longhua, the Historic Town Longhua, which has a long history, is one of the famous ancient towns south of the Yangtze River. Situated in the southeast part of Xuhui District, it covers an area of 8.08 sq. km and has a population of over 40,000. At Longhua is found the thousand-year-old Temple of Longhua that features on its grounds an ancient pagoda. Here is also located the Martyrs’ Cemetery of Shanghai and the memorial hall of Huang Daopo the ancient weaving lady of China. Every year in March, the local people like to come to Longhua to enjoy the sight of the blooming peach flowers and stroll around the fair before the Temple. At the Temple, the old hierarchical system that began in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) is still in force today. Visited every day by large numbers of monks and laymen, the Temple is pervaded by the smell of incense burning and the sounds of prayers and Buddhist ritual music. Over a million people visit the Temple each year and on the eve of the Lunar New Year, large numbers of people, Chinese as well as foreign, come and listen to the Temple bell ringing in the new year. The pagoda in the Temple was first built in A. D. 977 in the Song Dynasty. An octagonal seven-storied structure, it is over 40m high. In 1990, technicians installed new lighting devices in the Temple and atop the pagoda, thus making it possible for the Temple to present itself at its best on festive nights.

Guyi Yuan

Guyi Yuan1Situated in the town of Nanxiang, Jiading County, the Guyi (Ancient Splendour) Garden was built in 1566(Ming Dynasty). The name of the garden stemmed from “the beauty of green bamboo”. Its main structures are pavilions, corridors and winding paths. The Tang stela inscribed with Buddhist scriptures and a stone tower of the Song dynasty are famous works of art.

Guyi Yuan2This calssic Chinese garden, laid out under the Ming dynasty in the 16th century, is the site of two stone pillars dating back to the Tang and Song dynasties. In its grounds is The United Boat- a pavillion in the form of a boat.

Location: Nanxiang, Jiading

Information: open daily 6:00am to 5:00

Shanghai Grand Theater

Shanghai Grand Theater1Shanghai Grand Theater is at the northern part of the People’s Square,at the intersection of the square’s Central Boulevard and Huangpi Road.The theater covers a floor space of 11,528 square meters. The east-west length of the theater is about 120 meters and the south-north length is about 1,378 meters. The modern and grandeur theater has 10 floors. Total construction space is 62,803 square meters.

Shanghai Grand Theater2The theater has a 2,000-seat audience hall and a 760-square-meter hall for VIPs. (The backstage is 420 square meters and the two side-stages each has around 280 square meters of space). The theater will play host to performances of top-notch ballet troupes, opera troupes and symphony orchestras. Near the arch-like ceiling of the theater is a 500-plus-seat multi-functional ballroom where banquets, fashion shows and exhibitions can be held.

Shanghai Museum

Shanghai Museum1Shanghai Museum is situated at the southern side of the People’s Square. Total construction space is 38,000 square meters. The museum structure, 29.5 meters in height, includes five floors aboveground and two floors underground. Total investment of the museum is 432.69 million yuan. The museum opened to visitors at the end of 1995.

The design of the museum, a square foundation supporting a circular roof, incorporates ancient Chinese philosophy that the sky is round and the earth is square. The museum has 10 showrooms featuring bronze wares, ceramics, ancient Chinese paintings, calligraphy works, sculptures, seals, coins, jade wares, furniture and handicrafts of Chinese minorities. The museum now collects some 120,000 pieces of precious antiques, accounting for almost half of the total such collections in the country. The museum is highly acclaimed internationally.

Gallery of Ancient Chinese BronzeShanghai Museum2

Gallery of Ancient Chinese Bronze shows about 440 pieces of various kinds of ancient Chinese bronzes, including the bronze wine vessel, food vessel, musical instrument, water vessel, weapon and some other vessels from the Xia Dynasty (ca, 21st century B.C.)to the Warring States Period (221 B.C.) The distinctively shaped and beautifully decorated bronzes, some with historic inscriptions, is an important mark of ancient Chinese civilization and a marvelous treasure of the Chinese cultural heritage respected highly in the world.

Gallery of Ancient Chinese JadesShanghai Museum3

Gallery of Ancient Chinese Jades displays over 400 pieces of various jade wares and treasure.

There are jade wares and treasure used on ceremonious occasions at Hongshan Culture and Liangzhu Culture during the Neolithic Age. The heyday of Chinese jade ware is Shang Dynasty. Jade ware made in Zhou Ages is the most elegant, its style had been modeled after till Han Dynasty. After Donghan Ages, the technique of jade ware making went downhill. In Tang and Song Dynasty, jades were more used in daily life, which is believed to be well accepted among the users.

The Bund

the bund

The Bund is the birthplace of Shanghai. Cruise boats meander eastward along the golden waterway to the intriguing “three-layer waters” at the Wusong Mouth.

The Bund is the most famous sightseeing spot in Shanghai. The Waibaidu Bridge, the long embankment along the Hungpu River, and the imposing array of tall buildings known as “an international exhibition” together from a symbol of the East. The Bund has always been closely linked with the developlment of Shanghai.

Zhouzhuang Town

Zhouzhuang Town, once called Zhenfengli, is located in Kunshan City, 30 km to the southeast of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province covering an area of 0.4 sq. km. Apart from Kunshan, it is also closely linked with Qingpu, WuJiang and Wuxian County. The above four places were called Yaocheng in ancient times and were the fief in the spring and autumn Period (770-476 B. C.). In 1086, Zhou Digong, a noted Buddhist, contributed 13 hectares of land to the Quanfu Temple (Full Fortune), which later took the name of Zhouzhuang Town as a memorial to Zhou.

Zhouzhuang is well known for its beautiful environment and simple architecture. Although more than 900 years have past, its architectural style is still well preserved. More than 60 percent of the residential houses were built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, consisting of nearly 100 classic courtyards and 60 carved brick archways. Like a lotus on the water, the town is surrounded and bisected by rivers including Nanbeichi, Houxiang, Youcheyang and Zhongshi. There are many bridges as well, including Fu’an,Zhenfeng, Fuhong, Tongxiu, Puqing, Xianyuan, Tiyun, Bao’en, Longxing, Yong’ an, Shide and Jubao, the most famous being Yong’an and Shide, known as Double Bridge, one a stone archetype and the other a stone beam type bridge. Two rivers crisscross in north-south and east-west directions here, and the square and round openings of the bridges provide a unique frame for the water scenery. Sitting on the boat, one may enjoying the scene between bridges and feels the interest of a water township, which offers a quiet and simple life. When night falls, all streets are empty. Down the narrow lanes one catches a glimpse of dim lights. Walking by the waterside, along the road or over a bridge, the peace of the calm water and clear sky, perhaps punctuated occasionally by the distant sound of laughter, creates a harmonious and sweet environment.  The town has many cultural relics, including the houses of Shen and Zhang, the Milou Tower, Ye Chucang’s Former Residence, Chengxu Taoist Temple and Quanfu Temple.  Many ancient and modern scholars have lived in or visited the town, such as ancient Zhang Han, a literati of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-317), Liu Yuxi and Lu Guimeng, two poets of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), as well as modern Sanmao, a noted woman writer from Taiwan, and artist Chen Yifei. Chen’s painting, “The Double Bridge”, is as famous as the real double bridge in the town. A well-known Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong once praised the town as a collection of beauty of China’s water townships. Luo Zhewen, a notable architect, described Zhouzhuang as “a treasure of China”. Zhouzhuang enJoys rich cultural resources, a beautiful environment and simple local customs.

Dragon Dance: Men of Zhouzhuang always play the black dragon and women play the yellow dragon during holidays. Lion dance is also very common.

Fast Boating: This started in the Qing Dynasty. At first, it was the needs of war, and then people held races for celebrating the harvest and holidays, also for weddings. Farmers participate with their own boats, clothes, props, gongs and drums. Zhouzhuang now has dozens of travel boats for tourists to do sightseeing around.

Grandmother Tea: People of Zhouzhuang are very fond of tea. They drink it in a tasteful way, using ancient tea sets, boiling water in pottery or earthen Jars, bamboo slices or branches as fuel. They first wash the tea and then, several minutes later; pour on boiled water to guarantee the color, fragrance and taste. People used to see groups of old women sitting together and drinking tea, and hence the name, grandmother tea. At present, people like to take some vegetables, melon seeds, beans and other pastries during the tea drinking.  Zhouzhuang enjoys rich natural resources and local specialties. Family Feast of Shen Wansan: When the rich man Shen Wansan moved to Zhouzhuang, he invited famous chefs, selected fresh aquatic products to create a series of delicacies after seasoning and cooking, such as Wansan Pig’s Upper Leg, Streamed Mandarin Fish, Pottage of Vegetables and Perch, Ginger Sauce River Snail, Bean Curd Leaf Rolls with Minced Pork, Dried Double-Flavor Bean curd, Braised Lotus Root, and Three- Flavor Meatballs. These dishes have been handed down for generations.

Wansan Pig’s Upper Leg: This is Zhouzhuang’s most famous delicacy. The pig’s upper Leg with flavorings is cooked or steamed until well done. The soup, which turns red, is saline and sweet.

Three-Flavor Meatballs: Chicken meat, fresh prawns, pork, shallots and ginger, as well as rice wine are packed inside gluten, and then made into round balls. They are boiled in chicken soup until well done. It looks crystal-clear and very delicious.

Pottage of Vegetables and Perch: Zhouzhuang’s perch has two gills, and its nice meat can be cooked in many different ways. Boiling the perch with vegetables is one of the best ways to serve. White Shellfish: White shellfish are produced in XianJiang River in April. They are washed first and boiled with some flavorings until well done. The soup, which has a milky appearance, is richly nutritious. The meat can also be stir-fried.

Wansan Cake: This has a history of hundreds of years. The Zou’s family used to produce various cakes for generations. This therapy is based on fine materials and offers many different kinds, which is welcomed by local people. Every holiday, Shen Wansan’s family often ordered lots of cakes to give relatives and friends, thus creating the name of Wansan Cake.

Pickled Vegetables: People collect fresh rape in late spring, then dry it in the sun. Before being completely dried out, however, they are put into an earthen Jar, then sealed and put into an airtight storage space. Several months later, the rape can be taken out and eaten directly, or used for cooking and in soup.

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