The pagoda stands at the confluence of the Hanjiang River and its estuary Guxi Creek. Because Guxi Creek flows past it, it is also known as Guxi Pagoda.
The pagoda was built in 1585 in the Ming Dynasty, and although it underwent an overhaul in 1691 in the Qing Dynasty, it retained its original structure, style and the ornamental designs on its main body. A horizontal board inscribed with the pagoda's name dates hack to 1585.
Fenghuang Pagoda, an octagonal, seven-storey structure of brick and stone, is some forty-five meters high. The first and second storeys are built of rectangular stone slabs and the others of brick. Inside the pagoda stone steps along the wall lead to the first and second floors. Starting from the third storey a winding staircase in a passageway in the double-layer walls leads to the top, but the sixth and seventh storeys have only three, instead of four, doors. There are three niches on the southern side of the sixth storey, while the seventh has only one.
Along the staircase in the double-layer walls there is a small window every nine to thirteen steps for letting in light and for looking out. All the storeys except the second storey and the top have balconies so people can enjoy the view.
The pagoda's ornaments are concentrated on the pedestal and the first and second storeys, built of stone. Carved on the girdle and beams of the pedestal are animals, plants and flowers, including twin phoenixes, mandarin ducks, two dragons playing with a bead, two lions grabbing a ball, jumping carps, dogs, deer, sea horses, elephants, lotus and grasses. They are all very vivid, showing excellent workmanship and high artistic quality.
The most distinct characteristic of the pagoda is its role as a beacon or lighthouse without any trace of religious use. There are no statues of Buddha or carvings relating to Buddhism, and it is unlikely that there is an underground palace or any Buddhist relies. It actually has three roles: as a navigation marker for ships, as an object to beautify the city, and as a place for people to enjoy the view.