Quanzhou is situated on the northern bank of the Jinjiang River in Fujian Province, facing the sea. It is an ancient cultural city and was an important trade port during the Middle Ages. It is also the hometown of many overseas Chinese.
With its mountain slopes and magnificent bay, Quanzhou has long been regarded as the most attractive town on China's southeast coast. During the Five Dynasties (907-960), the city was surrounded by Indian coral trees, from which it got the name "city of coral trees." As Quanzhou is in the southern subtropical zone and has a maritime monsoon climate, it is humid and warm all the year round.
One of the most interesting sites of this ancient port, the temple, first constructed in 686, was originally named the Lotus Flower Temple. The temple was later renamed several times until finally in 738, the Tang Emperor Xuan Zong, a devout Buddhist, ordered every large town in China to name one of its temples "Kaiyuan," the title of his reign. The temple has since been known as Kaiyuan Temple.
The temple is one of the outstanding examples of Chinese architecture and art. Flying musicians are carved on pillars that support the roof of the Hall of One Hundred Pillars. The two pagodas that stand opposite each other in front of the main hall in the temple, Purple Cloud Hall, are octagonal five-tier stone buildings with exquisite carvings. Two images of Buddha are carved on each of the eight sides. Forty ancient Buddhist tales are inscribed on the walls of one of the pagodas.
There are numerous other stone carvings in the temple -- figures resembling the Sphinx, animal heads and birds, dragons and tigers. Interestingly there are columns here in ancient Greek style. Many of these rare art works were once religious decorations on other buildings in Quanzhou, later moved to Kaiyuan Temple.
Add: No. 176, West Street, Quanzhou City, Fujian Province;
Entry ticket: 10 yuan;
Opening hours: 7:30 - 17:30;
Traffic: Bus No.2 or Tourist Bus No. 601;
Tel: 0595-2383285 or 0595-22383036.
Nine Suns Hill (Jiurishan)
Rising in the western suburbs of Quanzhou, this hill is known for its beautiful scenery and its great hoard of cultural relics. By the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), Quanzhou had become a developed port for overseas trade and was visited by many foreign merchants every year. Two wind worship ceremonies were held here each year by the imperial government of Northern Song to pray for safe voyages on the sea, and the procedures of these ceremonies were inscribed on stone. Today, such inscriptions are still found in more than seventy locations on the stone cliffs. They provide important materials for the study of China's overseas trade and transportation in earlier years and bear historic witness to the friendly intercourse that existed between Chinese and foreign peoples at that time.
Located in the northern suburbs of Quanzhou, it is a beautiful rocky hill with clear streams and luxuriant woods. It has been a scenic attraction ever since the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and is known as the "first fairyland of Fujian." The statue of Lao Zi- forefather and founder of Taoism-in sitting position on the hill is 5 meters tall, 7 meters deep, and 7 meters wide. It was made of a single piece of rock during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The smiling face and flying beard of the statue bring to life the kindly character of this legendary old man.
Spanning the Luoyang River about ten kilometers northeast of Quanzhou, this bridge was completed in 1053 during the Northern Song Dynasty after six years and eight months of hard work. It was originally 1,200 meters long and five meters wide, with 46 piers and 500 balusters decorated with 28 stone lions, seven stone pavilions, and nine stone pagodas. It is one of the most famous beam bridges of ancient China.