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Yangzhou -- Ancient Cultural Stronghold
Yangzhou, a famous cultural city with a long history, is just across the Yangtze River from Zhenjiang and on the bank of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Yangzhou was called Hancheng when it was first built under the order of King of the Wu State Fu Chai in 486 B.C. For years Yangzhou was one of the most prosperous towns in China, and the construction of the Grand Canal made it a pivot of communications and transportation from the Sui and Tang periods to the late Qing Dynasty. After the Grand Canal was initially completed in the Sui Dynasty (581-618), Emperor Yang Di made three inspection tours to Yangzhou. During his last tour in 612, peasant uprisings swept the country and he was killed by his subordinated here.

Yangzhou was also an important port for foreign trade and exchanges with the outside world in ancient China. The prominent Tang Dynasty monk Jian Zhen (688 - 763) made six attempts to sail from here to Japan for cultural exchange. It is also here that a celebrated Arab Moslem, Bahaa' Eddin, stayed for ten years preaching Islamism. The world-renowned traveler Marco Polo once served as an official in Yangzhou.

Slender West Lake (Shouxihu)

The lake in the southeast part of the city is so named because its long, narrow shape is similar to that of West Lake in Hangzhou. In the park, the winding streams are interconnected, and along their twisting courses are such sights as Little Gold Hill (Xiaojinshan), White Pagoda (Baita), Five Pavilions Bridge (Wutingqiao), and Moon Viewer (Yueguan). The style of the park displays both the splendor of northern Chinese gardens and the elegance of southern Chinese gardens. The White Pagoda in Lianxing Temple resembles the one in Beijai Park in Beijing.

Grand Brightness Temple (Damingsi)

This monastery on Shugang Hill in the northwest suburb of Yangzhou dates back to the Southern Dynasties in the fifth century. It was where the Buddhist monk Jain Zhen once lived and preached. Above the gate of this famous temple is the inscription "Fajing Temple" written in 1765 by Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty when he came on an inspection tour. Since then the temple is also known as Fajing Temple. A three-port, three-storied archway leads to Heavenly Gate Hall (Tianmendian) and to the Grand Hall, which stands at the rear of the temple. To the east is Clear Sky Chamber (Qinggongge), now serving as Monk Jian Zhen's memorial hall.

Other tourist attractions at Yangzhou include the Qing Dynasty Geyuan Garden on the city's Dongguan Street which is known for its bamboo groves; Xiaopangu Garden, regarded as one of the most well-known classical style gardens in China; the Moslem Mausoleum that houses the tomb of Bahaa' Eddin who came to preach a Islam and died here during the Southern Song Dynasty; and a mosque dating back to the mid-Qing Dynasty.


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