Exquisite pagodas of various styles embellish the landscape of their surrounding areas. Some have become the symbols of cities and districts. For instance, the elegant Buddhist pagoda at Yan'an has become the symbol of the revolutionary shrine. Baochu Pagoda on top of Precious Stone Hill is the landmark of the scenic city of Hangzhou with its beautiful West Lake. Jade Peak Pagoda on Jade Spring Hill in the suburbs of Beijing forms a charming background for the Summer Palace, At sight of the pagoda of Yunyan Temple on Huqiu Hill people know they will soon arrive at Suzhou, the most picturesque city on water in southeast China. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda in Xi'an, the Iron Pagoda in Kaifeng, the Twin Pagodas in Taiyuan and the Twin Stone Pagodas in Quanzhou have all become symbols of the cities where they are located.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties many pagodas were built simply to decorate the landscape. Even their names were no longer connected with Buddhism. Pagodas symbolizing good geomancy, prosperity and good fortune were built in great numbers. In Hancheng County, Shaanxi Province, Wenxing Pagoda dates back to the Ming Dynasty. Leng Chong, a scholar of the Ming Dynasty, told of the purpose for building the pagoda in an article written to commemorate its construction. He said that natural landscapes and manmade buildings had both contributed to the beauty of scenic spots and historical sites ever since ancient times. Mr. Yang, after being made the county magistrate, had immediately toured the scenic spots and historical sites in that area and showed great admiration for the beauty of the scenery of Hancheng. However, he felt that the mountain peaks in the northeast were not lofty enough, so he consulted with the local gentry and decided to build a pagoda in that direction to make up for the shortcomings of the landscape. On top of the pagoda a statue of the god in charge of the four stars in the bowl of the Big Dipper was erected, and to the north of the pagoda a temple symbolic of prosperity was built. The scenery was perfected when construction was finished. The project began in 1484 and was completed in 1486.
This record shows that except for the use of the term futu or Buddhist pagoda, nothing about the building was related to Buddhism. The purpose of construction was purely to embellish the landscape and make up for a defect in the scenery.
Ancient pagodas built as part of the landscape are found everywhere in the country. In fact, pagodas have become an inseparable part of scenic spots in China.