Three to four Zhongshan parks will be selected from 35 to apply for World Cultural Heritage listing. Of these, Beijing’s Zhongshan Park will be the first put forward for consideration.
During the closing ceremony for the First Sodality of Zhongshan Parks, a leading official from the Ministry of Construction said, due to their long history and wealth of culture, three to four Zhongshan parks should apply for World Heritage listing. There are currently 35 Zhongshan Parks in China, including the Beijing Zhongshan Park, the Shanghai Zhongshan Park, the Wuhan Zhongshan Park and the Zhuhai Zhongshan Park among others.
According to a relevant official, Beijing’s Zhongshan Park has some advantages over other such parks.
First, Beijing’s Zhongshan Park is situated in the center of the country’s capital, west of Tiananmen Square, occupying some 230,000 square meters. The park is an ancient altar to folk-style city life and was appraised as an “important cultural relic worthy of protection” in 1988.
The second advantage is that Beijing’s Zhongshan Park, founded in the 18th year of Yongle reign (1420) during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), has a centuries-old history with deep cultural meanings, just as the Forbidden City at its neighborhood and other world heritage listed locations such as the Temple of Heaven and Summer Palace. Beijing’s Zhongshan Park was formerly a Shejitan (Altar of Land and Grain) of the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It was rebuilt into a park, named Central Park, in 1914. Fourteen years later, it was renamed Zhongshan Park, to commemorate Dr. Sun Yat-sen (also known as Sun Zhongshan), leader of China’s modern democratic revolution. The rebuilt park, with the aim of protecting the ancient Shejitan, created the Songbaijiaocui Pavilion (Pine and Cypress Pavilion), the Geyan Pavilion (Adage Pavilion), the Huifang Garden (Grass and Flower Garden), the Xinghua Village (Almond Flower Village), while at the same time removing the Xili Pavilion (Studying Courtesy Pavilion), the Lantingbazhu Pavilion (Eight-Pillar Lanting Pavilion), the Baoweiheping Archway (Protecting Peace Archway) and the Song Dynasty’s stone lion from the Hebei Daming Ancient Temple.
Third, the natural environment of Beijing’s Zhongshan Park is well protected. There are many ancient trees around the altar, most of them cypresses. These cypresses were planted during the Ming Dynasty and are up to 570 years old. The most famous ones among them are the seven ancient cypresses planted during the Liao (916-1125) and Kin (115-1234) dynasties and a scene of “cypress and scholar tree growing intertwined.” The park staff also offer natural decoration.
China has 28 historic cultural and natural heritage listings, of which 14 are parks. The Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace and the Temple of Heaven in Beijing are all listed as World Cultural Heritages.
Zhongshan Park should continue its development throughout the course of it application. It is said work on building cultural parks and discovering historical culture will be strengthened.
(China.org.cn by Chen Lin December 19, 2002)