August 27, 2009

Jinan is the capital city of Shandong province. Located at the lower reach of the Yellow River, it is the political, economic, cultural, scientific and technological, educational and financial center, and it is also a sub-provincial city and a coastal open city under national ratification. As a national historical and cultural city, Jinan has enjoyed a good reputation of “the City of Springs” due to its numerous springs around the city.
 Jinan now exercises jurisdiction over one county-level city, Zhangqiu, 3 counties, such as Pingyin, Jiyang, and Shanghe, and 6 districts, such as Lixia, Shizhong, Huaiyin, Tianqiao, Licheng, and Changqing.
Area: 8,177 square kilometers; Population: 5.974 million (Year 2005)City Tree: willow; City Flower: lotusClimate:Jinan belongs to warm and temperate zone monsoon semi-moist continental climate, featured with quick seasons change and distinctiveness of four seasons as warm spring, hot summer, and cool autumn and cold winter. The winter in Jinan lasts 5 months, while summer lasts almost 4 months. The shortest are spring and autumn. 60% of the annual precipitation is concentrated during the summer period. HistoryBeing an important cradle of Chinese civilization, Jinan is an ancient city with a long history of over 4,000 years. Chengzi Cliff, located in the eastern suburb of Jinan, is the place where Longshan Culture is  discovered. Longshan Culture (4,600 – 4,000 years ago) belongs to the later stage of Neolithic Age, featured with black pottery, and it was listed in 1961 by the State Council of China as a National Key Unit of Cultural Relics Preservation. Jinan is rich in cultural relics, which includes Shungeng Mountain as the Shun Culture Sites, the First Generation of Guo Family Memorial Temple on Xiaotang Mountain (the 1st century, BC) which is approved as the oldest surface building structure in China, the Liubu Simen Pagoda (the 7th century, AD) of the Sui Dynasty as the most ancient stone tower in China, and the Colored Arhat Statue of the Song Dynasty (the 11th century, AD) in Lingyan Temple which is regarded as the No.1 Statue throughout China. Places of Interest
Daming Lake
Located in the north-east of Jinan, Daming Lake is one of the three most well-known tourist attractions in the city. With a long history, Daming Lake is featured with willow trees and lotus. Scattered among them are various kiosks, daises, buildings and pavilions. A line of poem depicted a vivid picture of Daming Lake: “Lotuses on four sides and willows on three; Mountains outside and a lake within”.

Baotu Spring Park  
Baotu Spring Park is a spring-featured theme garden located at the north of Thousand Buddha Mountain (Qianfo Mountain). It is at the west of Quancheng Square and south of Daming Lake. Ranking the first among the “72 Famous Springs” of Jinan, Baotu Spring is the symbol and logo of Jinan. It is praised as the “No. 1 Spring of the World”.

Thousand Buddha MountainLocated on the Southern part of the city, Thousand Buddha Mountain is one of the three most well-known tourist attractions in Jinan. It is 285 meters above the sea level, it gets its name because there are many Buddha sculptures carved on the body of the mountain. The mountain is an attractive tourist destination integrated with history, culture, Buddhist religion and beautiful scenes.

 

August 27, 2009

The descendants of Confucius lived in the Kong family mansion located to the east of the temple. They were in charge of tending to the temple and cemetery. In particular, they were in charge of conducting elaborate religious ceremonies on occasions such as plantings, harvests, honoring the dead, and birthdays. The Kong family was in control of the largest private rural estate in China. The first mansion was built in 1038 during the Song dynasty and was originally connected directly to the temple. During a rebuilding in 1377 directed by the first Ming dynasty Emperor, it was moved a short distance away from the temple. In 1503, it was expanded into three rows of buildings with 560 rooms and – like the Confucius Temple – 9 courtyards. The mansion underwent a complete renovation in 1838 only to perish in a fire 47 years later in 1887. It was rebuilt two years later; the cost of both 19th century renovations was covered by the Emperor. Today, the mansion comprises 152 buildings with 480 rooms, which cover an area of 12,470 square metres. The family mansion was inhabited by descendants of Confucius until 1937, when Confucius’ descendant in the 76th and 77th generations fled to Chongqing during the Second Sino-Japanese War and later during the Chinese Civil War to Taiwan, where the head of the family still resides.

 

August 27, 2009

The Cemetery of Confucius lies to the north of the town of Qufu, the oldest graves found in this location date back to the Zhou Dynasty (1045 BC to 256 BC ). The original tomb erected here in memory of Confucius on the bank of the Sishui River had the shape of an axe. In addition, it had a brick platform for sacrifices. The present-day tomb is a cone-shaped hill. Tombs for the descendants of Confucius and additional stela to commemorate him were soon added around Confucius’ tomb. Since Confucius’ descendants were conferred noble titles and were given imperial princesses as wives, many of the tombs in the cemetery show the status symbols of noblemen. Tombstones came in use during the Han Dynasty, today, there are about 3,600 tombstones dating from  the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties still standing in the cemetery. In 1331 construction work began on the wall and gate of the cemetery. In total, the cemetery has undergone 13 renovations and extensions. Eventually, by the late 18th century, the perimeter wall reached a length of 7.5 km, enclosing an area of 3.6 square kilometers. In this space, the tombs of more than 100,000 descendants of Confucius, who have been buried there over a period of about 2000 years, can be found. The oldest graves date back to the Zhou Dynasty, the most recent of which belong to descendants in the 76th and 78th generation. More than 10,000 mature trees give the cemetery a forest-like appearance. A road runs from the north gate of Qufu to the exterior gate of the cemetery in a straight line. It is 1266 m in length and lined by cypresses and pine trees. Along this road lies the Yan Temple, dedicated to Confucius’ favorite student.

 

August 27, 2009

Within two years after the death of Confucius, his former house in Qufu was already consecrated as a temple by the Prince of Lu. In 205 BC, Emperor Gao of the Han Dynasty was the first emperor to offer sacrifices to the memory of Confucius in Qufu. He set an example for many emperors and high officials to follow. Later, emperors would visit Qufu after their enthronement or on important occasions such as a successful war. In total, 12 different emperors paid 20 personal visits to Qufu to worship Confucius. About 100 others sent their deputies for 196 official visits. In 1012 and in 1094, during the Song Dynasty, the temple was extended into a design with three sections and four courtyards, around which eventually more than 400 rooms were arranged. Fire and vandalism destroyed the temple in 1214, during the Jin Dynasty. It was restored to its former extent by the year 1302 during the Yuan Dynasty. Shortly thereafter, in 1331, the temple was framed in an enclosure wall modeled on the Imperial palace. After another devastation by fire in 1499, the temple was finally restored to its present scale. However, further additions to the buildings and the decorations were made. In total, the Temple of Confucius has undergone 15 major renovations, 31 large repairs, and numerous small building measures.

The temple complex is the second largest historical building complex in China (after the Forbidden City), it covers an area of 16,000 square metres and has a total of 460 rooms. Because the last major redesign following the fire in 1499 took place shortly after the building of the Forbidden City in the Ming Dynasty, the architecture of the Temple of Confucius resembles that of the Forbidden City in many ways. The main part of the temple consists of 9 courtyards arranged on a central axis, which is oriented in the north-south direction and is 1.3 km in length.

The Dacheng Hall is the architectural center of the present day complex. The hall covers an area of 54 by 34 m and stands slightly less than 32 m tall. It is supported by 28 richly decorated pillars, each 6 m high and 0.8 m in diameter and carved in one piece out of local rock. The 10 columns on the front side of the hall are decorated with coiled dragons. It is said that these columns were covered during visits by the emperor in order not to arouse his envy.  Dacheng Hall served as the principal place for offering sacrifices to the memory of Confucius. In the center of the courtyard in front of Dacheng Hall stands the “Apricot Platform”, which commemorates Confucius teaching his students under an apricot tree. Each year at Qufu and at many other Confucian temples a ceremony is held on September 28 to commemorate Confucius’ birthday.

 

August 27, 2009

 

Qufu is the hometown of Confucius, and it is located 135 kilometers south of Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province. It ranks among the first group of 24 most famous historical and cultural cities designated by the State Council. It is endowed with a large quantity of cultural relics and a long history.
At present, Qufu exercises jurisdiction over two sub-districts with an area of 896 square kilometers and a population of over 600,000.
Qufu is the legendary birthplace of Confucius; it served as the capital of the State of Lu during the Spring and Autumn Period. The major cultural sites in the city are all associated with Confucius. Three sites, the Temple of Confucius, the Cemetery of Confucius, and the Kong Family Mansion, have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1994.

August 27, 2009

 

The Temple of the God of Mount Tai, known as the Dai Temple (Dai Miao), is the largest and most complete ancient building complex in the area. It is located at the foot of Mount Tai in the city of Tai’an and covers an area of 96,000 square meters. The temple was first built during the Qin Dynasty. Since the time of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), its design has been a replica of the imperial palace, which makes it one out of three extant structures in China with the features of an imperial palace (the other two are the Forbidden City and the Confucius Temple in Qufu). The temple has five major halls and many small buildings. The centerpiece is the Palace of Heavenly Blessings (Tian Kuang), built in 1008, during the Northern Song Dynasty. The hall houses the mural painting “The God of Mount Tai Making a Journey”, dated to the year 1009. The mural extends around the eastern, western and northern walls of the hall and is 3.3 metres high and 62 metres long. The theme of the painting is an inspection tour by the god. Next to the Palace of Heavenly Blessings stand the Yaocan Pavilion and the entrance archway as well as the Bronze Pavilion in the northeast corner. The Dai Temple is surrounded by the 2,100 year-old Han Dynasty cypresses.

August 27, 2009

The sacred Mount Tai (‘shan’ means ‘mountain’) was the object of an imperial cult for nearly 2,000 years, and the artistic masterpieces found there are in perfect harmony with the natural landscape. It has always been a source of inspiration for Chinese artists and scholars and symbolizes ancient Chinese civilizations and beliefs.

Mount Tai is a mountain of historical and cultural significance located north of the city of Tai’an, in Shandong Province. The tallest peak is Jade Emperor Peak, which is commonly reported as 1545 meters (5069 ft) tall, but is described by the Chinese government as 1532.7 meters (5028.5 ft)[.
Mount Tai is one of the “Five Sacred Mountains”. It is associated with sunrise, birth, and renewal, and is often regarded the foremost of the five. The temples on its slopes have been a destination for pilgrims for 3,000 years.

Traces of human presence at Mount Tai date back to the Paleolithic period. Human settlement of the area can be proven from the Neolithic period onwards. During this time, two cultures had emerged near the mountain, the Dawenkou to the north and Long Shan to the south. In the Spring and Autumn Period, the mountain lay on the boundary between the competing States of Qi (north of the mountain) and Lu (south). In the ensuing Warring States Period, the State of Qi erected a 500 km-long wall to protect itself against an invasion. Ruins of this wall are still present today.

Religious worship of Mount Tai has a tradition of 3,000 years, it has been practiced from the time of the Shang (1766-1122 BC) to that of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912 AD  ). Over time, this worship evolved into an official imperial rite and Mount Tai became one of the principal places where the emperor would pay homage to Heaven (on the summit) and Earth (at the foot of the mountain) in the ceremony.  In 219 BC, Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, held a ceremony on the summit and proclaimed the unity of his empire in a famous inscription.
Mount Tai has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.