China Yangzhou City:
4.46 million (urban population: 500,000)
Yangzhou ("Famous Prefecture") is located northwest of Nanjing, close to the eastern border of Jiangsu province. Once prosperous and grand, the city has the air of a forgotten treasure, where reminders of its ancient past have withstood the tests of time and development.
Yangzhou is located in the confluence of the Yangtze River and the Jinghang Canelin; in the south of Jiangsu province, the north bank of lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the south end of Jianghuai Plain.
Yangzhou has a subtropical monsoon climate with humid changeable wind; longer winters for about 4 months, summers 3 months and shorter springs and autumns, 2 months respectively.
From the time of the Taiping Rebellion (1853) to the end of the Communist revolution (1949) Yangzhou was in decline, due to war damage and neglect of the Grand Canal. Now that the canal has been partially restored, Yangzhou is once again an important transportation and market center. It also has some industrial output, chiefly in cotton and textiles.
At the beginning of The Sui Dynasty (6th century AD), Emperor Yangdi ordered the recruitment of millions of workers in the area to dig the Grand Canal, a waterway linking Hangzhou in the south with Zhuojin, near Beijing, in the north. The canal, which became the major artery for the transport of grain from the rich agricultural southern provinces to population centers in the arid north, transformed Yangzhou into a major commercial and communications center by the Tang Dynasty (618?907 AD). At its zenith, Yangzhou had a population of 500,000?approximately double its present size.
Yangzhou was renamed jiangdu (River Capital) for a brief period in the 10th centry, when the Southern Wu kingdom made the town its capital.
Many prominment figures have been associated with Yangzhou through the centuries. Jian Zhen, the Tang Dynasty Buddhist monk who made several attempts to reach japan to spread the faith, and who is credited with introducing to japan not only Buddhism, but also many aspects of China's art, culture, and medical science, was a native of Yangzhou. Owing to Jian Zhen's efforts, Yangzhou is still considered a holy site by japanese Buddhists, who continue to donate treasures and gifts to Jian Zhen's shrine in Yangzhou.
The great Tang Dynasty poets Li Bai (Li Po), Bai juyi, Gao Shi, and Du Fu, among others, visited Yangzhou often and wrote hundreds of P?ems praising its natural beauty. In the Song Dynasty, Bulhading, said to be a descendent of the Prophet Mohammed, traveled to China in the hope of spreading the Islamic faith. He made Yangzhou his home for ten years and eventually died there. Ouyang Xiu and Su Dongpo, two famous Song DYnastY writers, also lived in Yangzhou and served as prefects of the city. 3"en the legendary traveler Marco Polo visited Yangzhou during the Yuan Dynasty at the invitation of Kublai Khan, he served as mayor of the town for three years (1282?85).
As the center of the salt trade in the Qing Dynasty (1644~1911), Yangzhou enjoyed great prosperity and dynamic economic growth. The burgeoning fortunes of salt merchants and other entrepreneurs created opportunities for conspicuous consumption and attracted important numbers of artists, scholars, and craftsmen seeking wealthy patrons. It was during this "second golden age" that Yangzhou spawned the school of painters known as "the Eight Eccentrics." These artists sought to paint bold new pictures instead of imitating the old masters. Their favorite subjects were flowers and natural objects. Branded in their own day as heretics by more orthodox artists, the Eight Eccentrics developed a free, vigorous style that has reemerged to exert a strong influence on modem Chinese artists.
Today, Yangzhou remains an important center for artistic endeavor. It is famous for its carved lacquerware screens inlaid with mother?of?pearI, jade carvings, intricate papercuts, embroidery, miniature potted land-scapes, and reproductions of ancient texts?printed from handcarved wooden blocks, with the pages stitched by hand in the traditional method.
The ancestors of people in Yangzhou created a splendid culture and left behind them a large number of historical relics and sites, making it a well?known tourist city in China. Among the many scenic and historic attractions for visitors to Yangzhou, perhaps the most notable are the local section of the Grand Canal, the many lovely gardens, and the buildings associated with the monk Jian Zhen.
A wide selection of Yangzhou's famed handicrafts can be found at the Friendship Store on Yanfu Road and at the People's Market on Dong-fanghong Road. Reproductions of ancient Chinese classics, such as The Romance of the West Chamber and The Peach Blossom Fan, printed and handsewn in the traditional method, are available from the Yangzhou Guangling Ancient Books Block Printing Cooperative.
This is the home of Yangzhou Fried Rice, which can be ordered in almost any Chinese restaurant around the world. Another local specialty is 1000-layer Oily Cake.
During a period of prosperity and Imperial favour, the arts of storytelling and painting flourished in Yangzhou. A group of painters from that time, who came to be called the Eight Eccentrics, are still famous in China.
There is a commonly reported legend that Yangzhou produces the most beautiful women in China, and that emperors would seek their brides from Yangzhou (but the same legend is often told about Hangzhou, Zhejiang province).
Yangzhou Attractive points:
Fajing Temple (Fajing Si)
Located on Shugang Hill, in the city's northwest, is Fajing Temple, formerly known as Daming Temple. The original temple was built by jian Zhen some 1,500 years ago. In the latter years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127?1279), a nine?storey pagoda, the Qilingta, was built on the temple grounds. A recent addition to the tempie complex is the jian Zhen Memorial Hall, built according to Tang Dynasty methods and financed with contributions raised by Buddhist groups in japan.
When Qing,.qmperor Qian Long visited Yangzhou in 1765, he was troubled by The temple's name?Daming (which literally means "Great Ming'% fearing that it might revive nostalgia for the Ming Dynasty, which was overthrown by his Manchu predecessors. He had it renamed Fajing Temple.
The temple was seriously damaged during the Taiping Rebellion at the beginning of the 20th century. The present structure is a reconstruc-tion dating from the 1930s.
Flat Hills (Ping Shan) Hall
Built by the Song Dynasty writer Ouyang Xiu when he served as prefect of the city, this hall stands just west of Faji,g Temple. Looking out from this hall, the mountains to the south of the Yangtsc River appear as a line at the viewer's eye level?hence the riame Fiat Hills Hall. When Ouyang Xiu's student Su Dongpo moved to Yangzhou, he too served as prefect of the city. He had a hall built directly behind the one erected by his master, and called it Guling Hall.
Pavilion of Flourishing Culture (Wenchangge)
This round, three?ticred pavilion in Yangzhou's castern sector was built in 1585 and celebrates the city's rich cultural traditions.
Stone Pagoda (Shita)
Standing west of the Pavilion of Flourishing Culture is a five?storey Tang Dynasty pagoda. Built in 837 AD, it is the oldest pagoda still standing in Yangzhou.
Siender West Lake (Shouxi Hu)
Named after Hangzhou's famous West Lake, this long, narrow stretch of water which meanders through Yangzhou's western limits is a well?known scenic spot. A long dyke planted with weeping willows spans the lake; at its midpoint stands a square terrace with pavilions at each of the corners and one in the center. Around the lake is a park in which are found several attractions: Lotus Flower Pagoda (Lianhua SO, a white structure reminiscent of the White Pagoda (Baita) in Beijing's Beihai Park; Small Gold Mountain (Xiao Jin Shan); and the Fishing Platform (Diaoyutai), a favorite retreat of the Qing emperor Qian Long. The emperor was so gratified by his luck in fishing at this spot that he ordered additional stipends for the town. As it turns out, his success had been augmented by local swimners who lurked in the recds busily attaching fish to his hook.
Tomb of Bulhading
The tomb is in the eastern sector of the city and is adiacent to a mosque which houses a collection of valuable materials documenting China's relations with Muslim countries.
Ge Garden (Ge Yuan)
The entrance to this typical southern?style garden with its luxuriant bamboo groves, ponds, and rock grottoes is on
Dongguan St. in the city's northeast section. Designed by the great Qing Dynasty landscape painter Shi Tao for Wang Yingtai, an officer of the Qing
imperial court, this garden takes its name from the shape of bamboo leaves which resemble the Chinese character ge, meaning "each" or "every."
He Garden (He Yuan)
Built by He Zhidiao, a 19th?century Chinese envoy to France, this garden is famous for a 430?m. (1,377?ft.) two?storcyed winding corridor, the walls of which are lined with stone tablets carved with lines of ciassical poetry, In the garden is also an open?air theater set on an isiand in the middle of a fish pond.
Yechun Garden (Yechun Yuan)
In this garden, which lies on the banks of the Xiading River at the city's northern limits, the Qing Dynasty poet Wang Yuyang and a circle of friends used to gather to recite their works. The thatched roofs of the pavilions in this garden give it a quaint, rustic air.
In the same arca is the Yangzhou Museurn, which houses about 100 paintings and calligraphy scrolIs by the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou and a research institute for the study of their work.
Jiangdu Water Control Project
Construction of this multiple-purpose water control project?the biggest in China?start¨¨d in 1961 and was completed in 1975. The project includes facilities for irrigation, drainage, navigation, and power generation. It consists of four large modern electric pumping stations, six medium?sized check gates, thrce navigation locks, and two trunk waterways.