Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Quanzhou
Quanzhou View slideshowQuanzhou lies in the southeast of the Fuijian province on the Jinjiang estuary.
From Xiamen and Fuzhou it is accessible by air or by sea.Already in the 6th C Malayan ships docked in Quanzhou, and it was founded in about 700. Quanzhou grew until in the 10th C, under the Tang, it had become with Canton and Yangzhou one of the three largest Chinese international trading ports. From the 11th C to the 14th C the city had its greatest flowering. At this time the woven satin which was manufactured here was even sold in the European market. Some expert linguists think that the word satin is taken from ''Zaiton'', which is the name Marco Polo gave to Quanzhou in his work ''Millions''. The Venetian traveled back to Italy from Quanzhou in 1292, and noted in his travel journal: ''Zaiton is the biggest port in the world''.During the following centuries, the city attracted many foreign dealers, missionaries, and travelers, many of whom finally settled here. In the 15th C the city lost its status as a trading center.
Temple of the Beginning of the New Age
The 20m/66ft high main building, the Buddha Hall (Daxiong Baodian), was erected between 1368-1644 under Ming rule on the remains of the previous building. The 24 extremely finely chiseled statuettes on the columns represent Apsaras.The base of one of the columns is decorated with sphinxes; a sign that the early Chinese were aware of Mediterranean culture. On an altar in the rear section of the hall there is an interesting statue only 50cm/19in.) high, the ''thousand armed goddess of mercy''. Note that no two arms are exactly alike.
Pavilion of the Sacred Books
More than ten thousand books of sacred writings are kept in the Pavilion of the Sacred Books (Cangjinag Ge).
Mosque of Peace and Clarity
The Mosque of Peace and Clarity, situated in the Tumen Jie in the southeast of the city, was erected in 1009 in the style of a prayer house of Damascus. The construction was financed by donations from foreign Muslims. It was restored in 1310. Islamic merchants were already coming here in the 7th C to seek trade.As the mosque is one of the oldest in the whole of China, the government placed it under its protection. For this reason an order by the Ming Emperor Chengzu is engraved on a stone tablet inside the mosque which dates from 1407. The order begs respect for this important building and reverence for the Islamic faith. The impressive main gate is still preserved. On the mosque walls passages from the Koran are engraved in old Arabic.
Museum of the History of Foreign Trade
To the east of the Kaiyuan Si temple is the Museum of the History of Foreign Trade (founded 1959). It is divided into three sections: in the first section is a 24m/72ft long, 9m/27ft wide sailing ship from the Song period (960-1279). It was discovered in 1974, near the port of Houzhu in Quanzhou Bay about 10km/6mi south east of the city. The second section displays hundreds of sculptures and stone tablets with inscriptions in old Chinese, Latin, Syrian and old Arabic; they date back to the Song and Yuan era (10th-14th C). In the last section over 300 ceramic pieces are displayed; these were crafted in Quanzhou from the 10th C onwards and were intended for export.
Ninth Day Mountain
The Ninth Day Mountain is situated 5km/3mi to the west of the city on the bank of the Jinjiang River. Even in the Song period it was a popular goal of pilgrims. According to tradition many people moved to Fujian from the north in the 3rd and 4th C. Every year on the ninth day of the ninth month of the moon, the people came to Jiurishan to look in the direction of their home and this has given the mountain its name.The slopes of the twin-peaked mountain are decorated with more than 70 inscriptions, some of which are the work of poets who came to this place. Thirteen of these inscriptions are in memory of the sacrificial ceremonies which the Governor of Quanzhou held here between 1104 and 1266 to beg the gods to protect the Chinese traders at sea.The western peak is crowned with a 4.5m/15ft high Buddha sculpture on a lotus-flower throne, dating from the 10th C.
Holy Islamic Grave Yard
On the Mountain of Souls (Lingshan) on the eastern edge of Quanzhou, are buried two students of the prophet Mohammed. They came here in the early 7th C to spread the word of Islam. Behind the graves is a marble plate dating from 1323 inscribed in Arabic.
Mountain of Clear Springs
The 490m/1608ft high Mountain of Clear Springs is also known as the Beishan (north mountain), its name being taken from Quanzhou ''city of springs''. It is said that there were once many Daoist temples here.The 5m/16ft high Rock of Laotse (Laojun Yan), a figure of the philosopher, dates from the Song period (960-1279).In a building on the Amitabha rock (Mituo Yan), can be seen a tall statue of the Amitabha Buddha.
Luoyang Qiao Bridge
The bridge, erected in the years 1053 to 1059, which spans the Luoyang river 10km/6mi to the northeast of the city is 843m/2765ft long and 7m/23ft wide. The pavilion on the middle of the bridge is covered with many stone tablets, with inscriptions up to 1000 years old. The 46 pylons were part of the original structure which was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 1607.
House of General Zheng Chenggong, Shijing, China
In the little village of Shijing stands the House of General Zheng Chenggong (42km/26mi) to the south of Quanzhou). He was born here in 1624. Zheng freed Taiwan from the Dutch rulers on February 4th 1662 and died only three months later. His body was buried in the family graveyard of Shuitou, some 10km/6mi to the north of this house. In 1962 the house was converted into a museum in order to keep the memory of the national hero alive.
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