Xuanwu Lake is in the northeast portion of Nanjing City near the railway station.
The lake covers an area of 444 hectares with a coastline of 15 kilometers in circumferences.
According to the legend, in the Southern Dynasty a black dragon was seen in the lake. Chinese Daoists believed that the black dragon was a water god appeared appearing as the uniform of a turtle and snake, called Xuanwu. Hence the lake was called Xuwu Lake.
Another legend said stated that when Sun Quan, the King of the Eastern Wu Kingdom settled down in the region, he brought water in and made this lake.
Geological study shows that the lake was actually formed by the movements of the geological plates when Mountain Yanshan was formed.
In the long history of China, the lake had has been used by many dynasties as an ideal place spot to train their waterborne troops. Many military demonstrations had been held here and a lot of battles were fought here. Therefore, the lake was also called "Military Rehearsal Lake" or "Kunming Lake."
At the end of the Qing Dynasty, it was turned into a park. The lake today is much more beautiful with its water and colorful mountains.
Xuanwu Lake is best seen in combination with the Ming city wall bordering the park to its east and south and the Ji Ming Temple just outside Jie Fang Men at Xuanwu Lake's southwestern edge. The main entrance, through Xuanwu Gate, is just east of Zhongyang Road near the intersection with Hunan Lu.
Or, if you want to wander down an interesting alley where some of Nanjing's oldest houses have been built right up against the city wall, then don't enter the park at all. Instead, take a right at Xuanwu Gate onto Kunlun Lake and follow it all the way to Jiefang Gate. After about two minutes walking time, look for a faded yellow slogan from the Cultural Revolution painted on the western face of one of the buildings on your left. Then again, if you take this route, you might miss sighting Xuanwu Lake's black dragon.
How to Get There: Take bus No.1 (RMB 1) from Gulou to the train station. The Lake is directly opposite. The main gateway to the Lake is on Zhongyang Lu. There is a small and quiet pedestrian path around most of Xuanwu Lake. Bus 304, 3, 25, 30, 35, 38 are also accessible
Admission Price: 10 yuan (US$1.2)
Open Time: 8:00-20:00
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(China.org.cn November 19, 2004)