Canton Tourist Attractions
Altitude 5m/16ft. Area: 1345sq.km/519 sq.miCanton is not only an economic, but also a cultural center. The Sun-Yat-sen University (Zhongshan Daxue) has an importance extending well beyond the immediate area of Canton, while in the city's opera houses the Chinese opera tradition continues to be nurtured.
Cantonese cooking, in which seafood plays a crucial part, is also famous.An important Cantonese legend tells the story of how five gods came down to earth on goats and gave the inhabitants five ears of corn in order to protect them from famine.The city of Canton, which was originally called Fanyu, has a history dating back over 2000 years. In 214 BC Emperor Qin Shi Huangdi nominated it capital of the administrative area of Nanhai (Southern Sea) in recognition of its growing importance as a river and sea port. In AD 226 it was renamed Guangzhou. From the time of the Tang dynasty (618-907) onwards Canton developed into a center of foreign trade and as a result a large Islamic community grew up here. Under the Song dynasty (960-1279) the city enjoyed a golden period. In 1517 the Portuguese landed here, followed by the Spanish, Dutch, British and French. Over the years the harbor became larger and larger and in 1684 the East India Company moved its headquarters here in order to be able to have better control of its trade in the opium which it was bringing over from India. In 1839 the Imperial High Commissioner Lin Zexu had 1185 tons of opium destroyed in Humen, a small village near Canton, and in so doing triggered off the opium wars between Britain and China. In 1841 the city offered stubborn resistance to the attacking English troops, with the peasants of Sanyuanli (today a suburb of Canton) particularly distinguishing themselves. In the Treaty of Nanking (1842) the city was forced to open its doors to foreign trade and in 1858 the island of Shamian became a foreign concessionary area. This contact with foreigners was destined to imbue the Cantonese from very early on with nationalistic sentiments, a readiness for reform and revolutionary ideas. At the beginning of the 20th C Sun Yat-sen started numerous uprisings against the Qing government.In 1918 the city began to be modernized, with wide streets being laid out, countless shacks torn down, canals filled in and the city walls taken down.The year 1924 saw the founding of the Whampoa military academy where Zhou Enlai studied. In the period following, Zhou, Guo Moruo and Mao Zedong taught at the local institute of the peasants' movement. After the rupture in relations between the Communists and the Guomindang, more than 5000 of the former lost their lives at the hands of Guomindang troops during a workers' revolt in 1927. In 1949 Canton fell to the Communist regime.In the 1950s Canton became an important center for industry (steel, chemicals, textiles and foodstuffs) and foreign trade, a development which was helped by its proximity to Hong Kong. Since 1957 the famous Canton Fair has taken place twice a year.
Temple of Light and Children's Love
The Temple of Light and Children's Love, one of the oldest buildings in the city, is only a short distance from the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees. In the 1st C BC Zhao Jiande, the king of the state of Nanyue, lived here. Under the Western Jin dynasty (265-316) the royal residence was turned into a temple. After that the building was chiefly inhabited by Indian monks who came to China in order to disseminate Buddhism. It was here, too, that Huinen, the 6th patriarch of Zen Buddhism, took his vows. In 1151 the building received its present name. Of the original 30 temples and palaces only about ten have survived.The two iron pagodas on either side of the main temple are worth inspecting closely, as they are thought to be the oldest of their kind in China.The Eastern Iron Pagoda (Dongtie Ta) dates from 967 and is decorated with over 900 niches with statuettes of Buddha.The Western Iron Pagoda (Xitie Ta), dating from 963, only retains three ''stories''.
The Temple of the Six Banyan Trees was built in the 6th C to house a relic of the Buddha.
Mosque in Memory of the Wise Man
The Mosque in Memory of the Wise Man, situated in the city center 300m/330yd south of the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees, is one of the oldest mosques in China. It is supposed to have been built by an Arab in 627 in honor of Mohammed. It is also known as the Lighthouse Mosque (Guangta Si) because its high minaret is fitted with lighting equipment and in the past was actually used as a lighthouse. Today this house of prayer is the center of the city's Muslim community.
Tomb of the 72 Martyrs on the Hill of the Yellow Flowers
This tomb commemorates those who lost their lives during the uprising led by Sun-Yat-sen against the Qing government on April 27th 1911. The tomb is situated on the Xianlie Lu, about 3km/2mi east of Yuexiu Gongyuan Park. It was erected in 1918 and is surrounded by a park. On the arch at the southern entrance are to be found Sun-Yat-sen's words ''Eternal Glory''. The park also contains an obelisk, pavilion and pyramid-shaped building, the upper section of which consists of 72 stone slabs representing the 72 martyrs.
Northeast of the Tomb of the 72 Martyrs on the Hill of the Yellow Flowers lies the Zoo, one of the largest in China. The pandas are especially popular.
At the market, consisting of two intersecting, partially covered streets extending along Qingping Lu, there are all kinds of food on sale (fruit, vegetables, fish, snakes, turtles and poultry), animals of every type (dogs, cats, monkeys, etc.), herbs, earthenware and porcelain.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart
The 58m/190ft high Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Yide Lu Street is the largest Christian church in China. The French architect Guillemin built it between 1863 and 1888 in Neo-Gothic style.
Yuexiu Gongyuan Park
Yuexiu Gongyuan Park is situated at the foot of the hill of the same name in the north of the city. It contains several ponds, a hall of flowers, an orchid garden, a sports complex and an open-air cinema.
Sun-Yat-sen Memorial Hall
The 49m/161ft high Sun-Yat-sen Memorial Hall (Zhongshang Jiniantang) is located at the south end of Yuexiu Gongyuan Park and is dedicated to the memory of Sun-Yat-sen, who was the first president of the Chinese Republic, which was founded in 1911. This imposing building was erected in 1931 in the classical Chinese style. The hall, which is used for cultural events, has space for more than 4000 people.In the gardens in front of the hall can be seen a bronze statue of Sun-Yat-sen while to the west lies a small museum which keeps the politician's memory alive.
Building Overlooking the Sea
On a hill in Yuexiu Gongyuan Park stands the five-story 28m/92ft high palace, the Building Overlooking the Sea (Zhenhai Lou). It was constructed in 1380 and in 1686 was converted into a watch-tower to guard against pirate attacks.
Historical Museum of Guangzhou
Today the Building Overlooking the Sea is the seat of the Historical Museum of Guangzhou. On the individual stories there are exhibits on display from the various epochs of Chinese history, while on the top story there is information available on the Communist movement in Canton.
Memorial Park to the Martyrs of the Canton Uprising
About 4km/2.5mi east of the city center, on Zhongshan Lu, a 26ha/64 acre cemetery was laid out in 1957 for the victims of the Canton uprising which was led by the Communist party in 1927. The 5700 people shot by the Guomindang government are now buried in a tumulus. In addition the memorial park also contains a pavilion (1957) dedicated to Sino-Soviet friendship and one (1964) to Sino-Korean friendship. These are intended as a reminder that Russians and Koreans also lost their lives in the uprising.In the western section of the park stands the Museum of the Revolutionary History of Guangdong.
Ancestral Temple of the Chen Family
Between 1890 and 1894 the great ancestral temple of the Chen family was built in Zhongshan Lu. It is famous for its wood carvings and sculptures, of which particular mention should be made of the figures on the roof ridges which adopt themes from mythology and classical literature.Today the temple houses the Folklore Museum, in which arts and crafts from Canton and Guangdong are displayed.
Shamian Island is 900m/1000yd long and 300m/900ft wide and lies in the southwest of the city, linked with the north bank of the Zhujiang by several bridges. Under Ming rule (1368-1644) the island was used for mooring.During the Opium Wars it was vigorously defended by the city leaders because of its strategic position, but in 1861 it was conceded to England and France. The foreign powers erected their consulates here, as well as villas, banks, churches and even a tennis court and sailing club. The Chinese needed special permission to be able to set foot on the island.It is only since 1949 that Shamian has once again been under Chinese administration. Today some of the larger consulates are still located here.
The 8ha/20 acre Culture Park in the south of the city offers a wide range of entertainment, including exhibition halls, an open-air stage, an opera and concert hall.
College of the Peasants' Movement
The College of the Peasants' Movement is to be found to the west of the Memorial for the Martyrs of the Canton Uprising. It was founded jointly by the Communist Party and the Guomindang in July 1924 in a former Confucian temple.This college, in which the cadre of the Communist Party are educated, was from 1926 under the direction of Mao Zedong and its teachers included Zhou Enlai. Mao's office, a large hall, library, refectory and students' dormitory can all be visited.
The areas surrounding Canton offer a variety of natural attractions.
Mountains of the White Clouds
To the northeast of the city rises the mountain range of the White Clouds with more than thirty peaks, the highest of which, The Peak Which Touches the Stars (Moxing Ling), reaches a height of 382m/1253ft. Of the many picturesque places to be found in the mountains, mention should be made of the 2000-year-old Nine Dragons Spring (Jiulong Quan), the tomb of Zhang Erqiao, a famous singer of the Ming period, and the Villa of the Waves in the Sea of Pines (Songtao Bieyuan).
Conghua Thermal Springs
The Conghua Wenquan thermal springs are to be found in the spa resort of the same name, 80km/50mi northeast of Canton. The spa comprises a dozen calcium, magnesium and natrium springs, as well as several thermal baths, extending over an area of some 10sq.km/4 sq.mi. The water temperatures range from 50°-70°C (122°-158°F). The resort also has a large number of sanatoria, hotels and boarding houses.
Birthplace of Sun Yat-sen
The house in which Sun-Yat-sen was born in 1866 is situated in the village of Cuiheng (Zhongshan district), about 100km/62mi south of Canton. It still has the original furniture. In a neighboring building there is a museum commemorating the founder of the first Chinese republic.
Map of Canton Attractions