Shexian County is located at the southern foot of Mt. Huangshan, in the upper reaches of the Xin'an River, surrounded by mountains and streams. Ever since Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Shexian has outgrown other areas in Southeast China in economic and cultural development, making it the birthplace of the unique Huizhou Culture, which is represented by the Xin'an painting, Huizhou architecture, and Xin'an medicine.
The influence of the Huizhou Culture and the prosperity of the area have earned Shexian County the title of "Southwest Zou-Lu." Zou-Lu is the hometown of Confucius and Mencius, meaning that Shexian is the home of art and culture in the southwestern China. Indeed, Shexian County has produced many artists, philosophers and men of letters, great educator Tao Xingzhi and master painter Huang Binhong are just two examples.
Shenxian is in the middle of the tourist route of Hangzhou, the Qiandao Lake, Huangshan Mountain and Jiuhua Mountain. It has the Huihang and Tunwu Roads converging and the Anhui-Jiangxi Railway running through. With green mountains and crystal-clear rivers, Shenxian has a collection of ancient gardens, pavilions, bridges, archways and pagodas. The county is an living historical museum with major spots of the Taibai Building, the Xin'an Stele Garden, the Archway of Xuguo, the Doushan Street and the Memorial Hall for Tao Xingzhi. To the west of the Taibai Bridge, the Taibai Building is the place one must pass by from Huangshan Mountain to the Qiandao Lake. The building is of the typical Anhui-style and features two storeys with exhibitions of steles, and scriptures of all dynasties. It is said that in the Tianbao reign of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), Li Bai once came to Shixian to visit the hermit, Xu Xuanping. However, they missed each other on the bank of the Lianjiang River. In memorial of this experience, people built the Taibai Building on the seat of the place where Li Bai drank. Climbing up the building, one can enjoy the scenery of the old bridges and pagodas. Standing in the downtown of the county, the Archway of Xuguo is a key protection unit of the state. It was set up in the 12th year (1584) of the Wanli reign in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to honor Xu Guo, the Minister of the Board of Rites and the Scholar of the Wuying Palace. Xu Guo was successful in the highest national examination in the Jiajing reign of the Ming Dynasty, thereafter became a prestigious minister for three emperors, namely Jiajing, Longqing and Wanli. The archway has eight pillars on the four sides. All the pillars, railings, ridges and tiers were made of black stones of 4 to 5 tons with delicate carvings of dragons and phoenixes. The twelve stone lion in front of the archway are the typical demonstration of the Anhui carving art. All the scriptures of the archway were the works of the famous calligrapher Dong Qichang, student of Xu Guo, which have an effect of adding to the boldness and dignity of the archway. Located in town, the Doushan Street is an integration of ancient residences, streets, sculptures, wells and arches, and looks like a long picture scroll of history. The original clock tower is now called Dongqiao Gate or Yanghe Gate. The gate is a two-storeyed tower and was built in the Hongzhi reign of the Ming Dynasty.
Shexian has two nicknames: "Hometown of Archways" for the thousands of arches scattered in the county, and "Hometown of Tea" for the production of high quality tea in large quantity. In fact, Shexian County is a perfect place to examine the culture of ancient China's feudal society.