Fujian province is located in the southeast of China, staring directly across the straits into Taiwan. Centuries ago it has opened arms to outsiders like Arab and European traders, which made it the prime time in Yuan Dynasty (13th century). Best maritime museum in China, fantastic puppet show, thousand-year-old Temples and Mosque, piano isle with colonial-style European architecture, Hakka's earthen fortress constitute colorful and diversified culture of Southeastern China.
If one could go back in time to Quanzhou during the Song and Yuan dynasties (960-1368), one would see hundreds of huge ships docked in Quanzhou Bay.
Boats loaded with goods would be shuttling back and forth between the ships and the wharves, the latter already piled high with goods. After unloading items such as spices, ivory, pearls, hawksbill turtles and rhinoceros horns, the ships would then take on silk, porcelain, tea and Chinese arts and crafts before sailing back home.
Both inside and outside the city, people of all nationalities mixed together. Most were Arabs and Persians but there were also people from India and Southeast Asian countries.
They were merchants, sailors, emissaries, missionaries and officials, and many of them settled down here for long periods of time, particularly in the area from Fashi to Houzhu Port. In one place called "Fanfang" (Foreigners' Living Quarters), many houses, churches, temples and mosques were constructed in varying architectural styles. It was indeed an international city, and remained that way for more than three centuries, something quite unprecedented in the history of China.
Zaytun -The Alexandria of Asia, Marco Polo said that Quanzhou, the starting point of the Maritime Silk Road, was the world's greatest port, rivaling Egypt's Alexandria. The Venice sailor was said to have visited Quanzhou, which Arabs called "Zaytun”--a homonym for "olive," and the symbol of peace and prosperity (and from which we got the word 'satin'). Zaytun's harbor was a forest of ships' masts as barbarian merchants traded jewels and spices for fine Chinese silks, porcelain and tea. But Zaytun was also the Jerusalem of Asia, and Fujianese embraced a vast variety of religions: Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism, Manichean, Nestorian and Catholic Christian – "World Museum of Religion"dubbed by UNESCO.
As one of the historic cities of China, Quanzhou boasts many ancient cultural and religion relics. It is also blessed with beautiful scenic spots because of its special geographic location. Here, we just mention a few of the most important tourist destinations.
Places of Historic Interest
East and West PagodasThe majestic East and West Pagodas stand as a symbol and the pride of ancient Quanzhou City. Rising up before the Ziyun Hall in the Kaiyuan Temple, they remain intact after dozens of severe earthquakes in the course of the thousands of years, and deserv the title of the pearl of architecture in China
Kuaiyuan Buddhist Temple
The largest Buddhist temple in Quanzhou can date back to 686AD. The temple has an airy, stone-paved courtyard, which is flanked by the impressive East and West Pagoda surrounded by Buddhist niches of both Chinese and Indian styles. The main hall contains five large, gilded buddhas and on the ceiling above them are peculiar flying apsaras – a celestial beings similar to angels. During its heyday in Song Dynasty, it is said that more than 1000 monks lived in it.
Qingjing Mosque, located on Tumen Street in the Licheng District, is the oldest example of Moslem architecture in China. It was built in the year 1009 and since then has been repaired several times. Now the gate, the main prayer hall--Fengtian Tan--and the second prayer hall--Mingshan Tang--are still well kept, presenting the traditional architectural style of Arabic Islam. The stone inscription of the Koran written in Arabic is also preserved in the main prayer hall. This temple bears witness to the friendship and cultural exchange between China and Arabic countries.
Tianhou Palace is located on Tianhou Street near the south gate of the city. Tianhou--also called Mazu--is a goddess who is believed to watch over sailors at sea and provide for their safely. In southern China, there are many temples built solely for making sacrifices to her. This palace is the oldest and largest one. The magnificent main hall and back hall have stood for thousands of years and are still in good condition. In the main hall, you can see vividly carved patterns in the windows and various reliefs showing the culture of Taoism. There is also a newly opened museum showing the development of ties between the mainland and Taiwan.
Luoyang Bridge, China's earliest stone bridge built in the seaport, spans the Luoyang River in the east of the Quanzhou city. It was built in 1053 and is one of the most famous ancient bridges in China; even Marco Polo described it in his journey notes. Built from light grey granite, the bridge resembles a silver dragon lying above the green water. The method of reinforcing the foundation of the bridge is very unusual. Thousands of oysters were bred around the footstones and piers so that their secretions would act as kind of cement. This was the world's first example of the use of biology in bridge building and shows the great wisdom of the ancient Chinese people.
Anhai Manichaean Temple The Temple nestles in Huabiao Mountain of Anhai, Jinjiang Country, where rocks are ragged and valleys are deep. It is a quiet place "like heaven." According to records, Manichaeism as intorduced to China in the later seventh century. In 1313, the second year of Huangqing of the Yuan Dynasty, when it reached its height in Quanzhou, believers began to carve stone statues in Huabiao Mountain, which "has two peaks like decorated columns". In 1339, the fifth year of Zhiyuan of the Yuan Dynasty, they built the Manichaean Temple so as to spreead the doctrine of Manichaeism. The statue of Mani is carved on the rocky wall, his hair spread over his shoulder, quite different from other statues. It's a rare historic site in Fujian and the only relic of Manichaeism in Fujian, so it's highly valued
Five-Mile Bridge The Five-Mile Bridge had the name for its five-mile length. Its location at the ancient Anping Township of Jinjiang gave it another name "Anping Bridge". Built in the Shaoxing period in the southern Song Dynasty, the long bridge came out the best stone sea port bridge in ancient China and the longest beam bridge in the world in the Middle Ages. Thus it had the honour of being "the longest bridge in the world". In recent years, the local government allocated funds several times for the restoration of the bridge so as to retrieve its past grandeur.
Mt. Qingyuan lies in a northern suburb of the city. It combines natural beauty with the religious cultures of Buddhism and Daoism. Walking along the trails, you'll be charmed by the various streams, ponds, and strange-shaped rocks. The mountain boasts thousands of ancient trees which make it green all year round.
Qingshui Yan is a Buddhist temple built high on Penglai Mountain in Anxi County. The architecture is a three-layer tower style built with blue bricks and red tiles. Hiding in the emerald bamboos, green pines, hazy mist, and clouds the temple looks grand and imposing. Around the temple, there are many unusual natural wonders as well as cultural relics, such as the ancient tree with all its branches growing northwards, the four stone bamboo shoots towering to the sky, and the precious Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) stone tablets showing the map of the mountain.
Mt. Xiangong is another well-known tourist spot which is located in the northern part of the city. The mountain is characterized by its majestic features which include perilous cliffs and secluded forests. Many beautiful legends surround the mountain. On the mountain, nearly every temple or pavilion tells you a fairytale. Modern tourist facilities including cable cars, winding blacktops, and other amenities will make your travel more convenient and interesting.
Quanzhou Maritime Museum, located in the Fengze district, is China's only museum dedicated to the history of Chinese overseas exploration. The old exhibition hall, designed like a huge ship, was set up in 1959. It exhibits the components of a Song Dynasty (960-1127) ship discovered in the seaport of Quanzhou. The new East Lake exhibition hall was opened in 1991 and focuses on the history of overseas exploration, religious stone sculptures, and the folk culture of the seaside. The museum shows people the importance of Quanzhou in the development of China's overseas exploration.
Quanzhou is also a modern city that has lots of leisure and entertainment facilities. The Golf Club near the south gate of the city is a good place for you to relax. Encircled by a beautiful natural environment, it has a playground, a meeting hall, a swimming pool, European-style villas, and other entertainments. Additionally, you can go to the Above-Water Paradise outside of the north gate of the city. Just like a Disneyland, it has different facilities for people of different ages. The Outer Space Film City, the Ferris wheel, the Kating Automobile Racing Arena, the Children's Paradise, together with the colorful music fountain, will please you to no end.
Sightseeing List :
Built in 686 (during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian), this temple is the largest Buddhist temple in Fujian Province.
Luoyang Bridge, one of the four famous ancient bridges in China, spans the Luoyang River from south to north in the southern suburb of Quanzhou.
Mt. Qingyuan Scenic Area
The most appealing attractions of Mt. Qingyuan are the Statue of Lao-tzu, Statues of the Three Buddhas, Islamic Holy Tombs and Qi Feng Inscriptions of the Song Dynasty.
This mosque, built and repaired by Arab Muslims, reflects the friendship and cultural exchange between China and Arabic countries.
Qingshui Yan Temple
Located at the foot of Penglai Mountain, this temple is an ideal tourist resort owing to its charming scenic spots and Buddhist culture.
Quanzhou Maritime Museum
This museum has four exhibition halls showing Quanzhou Overseas Communications, Quanzhou Religious Sculpture, Ancient Chinese Sailboats Models and Quanzhou Customs and Culture.
This palace was built in 1196 during the Song Dynasty to memorize A-Ma, a very kind and helpful girl. The emperors of past dynasties worshipped her as Heaven Empress or Sea Goddess.
-- Related Link --
Xiamen is one of China's most attractive cities. Situated at the coast of the Fujian Strait this wonderful city with its palm trees, vast beaches and historical architecture attracts many foreigners. >>> Xiamen Attraction
Fuzhou The tourism industry of Fuzhou with its sustainable, fast and healthy development is being perfected day by day. In this coastal city, the reception establishments related to tourism are modern. At present, there are over 80 stared hotels, and the recreational facilities are too numerous to mention. The transportation network of Fuzhou is well developed and incorporates the road, rail, water and aviation networks, providing your trip to Fuzhou with convenient all-around access. >>> Fuzhou Travel Guide