Introduction of Guangzhou
Guangzhou known historically as Canton or Kwangchow is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in the People's Republic of China. Located in southern China on the Pearl River, about 120 km (75 mi) north-northwest of Hong Kong, Guangzhou is a key national transportation hub and trading port. One of the five National Central Cities, it holds sub-provincial administrative status.
Guangzhou is the third largest city in China and southern China's largest city. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 12.78 million. Some estimates place the population of the entire Pearl River Delta Mega City built up area as high as 40 million including Shenzhen (10.36 million), Dongguan (8.22 million) and most parts of Foshan (7.19 million), Jiangmen (4.45 million), Zhongshan (3.12 million) and a small part of Huizhou adjoining Dongguan and Shenzhen, with an area of about 20,000 square kilometres (7,700 sq mi) (about the size of US state of New Jersey). In 2008 Guangzhou was identified as a Beta World City by the global city index produced by GaWC.
Below are the attractive places in Guangzhou:
Bright Filial Piety Temple
Situated at the north end of Guangxiao Road, Bright Filial Piety Temple (Guangxiaosi) is among the grandest and most influential temples in China with a history dating back more than 1,700 years. In fact, it is said that 'The Bright Filial Piety Temple existed before the birth of Guangzhou City'. In 1961, the Temple was designated by the State Council as a Key National Cultural Preservation Site.
The architecture of the temple and cultural relics provide insight into the history of Chinese Buddhism, culture, and architecture as well as the local history of Guangdong Province. The main complex consists of Mahavira Hall, Sixth Ancestor Hall (Liuzudian), Samgharama Hall, Heavenly King Hall (Tianwangdian), the East and West Iron Towers, and the Mahakaruna Dharani Sutra Pillar.
The Mahavira Hall was built in 401 during the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 - 420) with additions made during succeeding dynasties. Today it is 35.36 meters (116 feet) long by 24.8 meters (81.36 feet) wide by 13.6 meters (44.62 meters) high. Situated on a high platform, the stately building, which is considered the most magnificent in South China, is guarded by the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower. Inside are three fine statues of Buddha. Travelers to other parts of South China will note that many other temples in the area have imitated the architectural style of Mahavira Hall.
The Sixth Ancestor Hall, located behind Samgharama Hall, was established during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127) in honor of Master Hui Neng, a larger-than-life statue of whom is found inside. Behind this hall grows a bodhi tree, which symbolizes the Buddhist ideal of wisdom. In 676, the abbot of the temple buried Hui Neng's cut hair under the tree. Today the seven-story (7.8 meters [25 feet]) octagonal Yifa Pagoda stands as a memorial to him. Each level houses eight shrines.
The East and West Iron Towers are the oldest iron towers in China. The West Iron Tower, the older of the two, was erected in 963; the East Tower was built four years later in 967. The four upper floors of the West Tower failed to survive the collapse of the house. The East Tower, which remains intact, is seven stories tall. About 1,000 shrines, each housing a small, exquisite statue of Buddha, are carved into the exterior of the tower. It is said that at the time of its completion, the exterior of the tower was gilded.
In addition to these structures, other beautiful buildings and relics can be seen on the Temple grounds. The Heavenly King Hall boasts the 380-year old Helin Stele, which was inscribed during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644).The Spring of Washing Bowl was dug in 527 to provide clear spring water in which Bodhidhamma, the initiator of Chinese Zen Buddhism, could wash his bowl. And the unique mushroom-shaped dharani pillar, which was made of bluestone in 826, is engraved on all eight sides with the words of the Mahakaruna Dharani Sutra.
Admission Fee: CNY 5
Operate: 6:30am to 5pm
Buses: Take bus 74, 85, 88, 102, 104, 107, 193, 233, 250, 286 or Tourism Bus Line 1 and get off at Ximenkou (Zhongshan Liulu) Station. Turn into Guangxiao Road to the temple; Take bus 2, 31,38,103, 109, 186, 260, 556 and get off at Ximenkou (Renmin Beillu) Station. Turn into Jinghui Road to the temple.
Subway: Take Guangzhou Subway Line 1 to Ximenkou Station. Then get out from Exit C. Walk along Guangxiao Road for several minutes to the temple.
Yuexiu Park is the largest park in downtown Guangzhou. Covering an area of 860,000 square meters (212.5 acres), the park is made up of three artificial lakes and seven hills of Yuexiu Mountain; hence the name Yuexiu Park.
Yuexiu Park is a perfect combination of cultural relics and ecological tourism, reputed for its pretty water and hills as well as cultural relics. The main places of interest include the stone sculpture of the Five Rams, Zhenhai Tower, the site of the Ming Dynasty City Wall, and Square Cannon Site.
The Five-Ram Sculpture is one of the most famous structures in Guangzhou. It has become the emblem of Guangzhou City. Legend has it that more than 2,000 years ago, Guangzhou was a barren land with people who despite hard work were suffering from famine. One day five immortals in five-color garments came riding on five rams, playing their legendary music. The rams held sheaves of rice in their mouths. The immortals left the sheaves of rice for the Guangzhou people, gave blessings to the city and left. The rams turned into stone and the city of Guangzhou became a rich and populous place. Guangzhou got the name of the City of Rams and the City of Ears.
Zhenhai Tower, better known among the locals as the Five-Story Tower, is one of the landmarks of Guangzhou city. An interesting historical record has it that Zhu Liangzu, Yongjia Marquis of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), saw yellow and purple air rising over Yuexiu Mountain and was told by a sorcerer that it was the omen of a new emperor. To subdue this omen, Zhu Liangzu ordered this tower to be built in 1380. Over the past 600 years, the tower has been destroyed five times and set up five times. Now it is the Guangzhou Museum, housing relics and documents showing Guangzhou's history over 2, 000 years. Known as the first tower in Lingnan (South of Nanling Mountain) Area, Zhenhai Tower now is 28 meters (91.9feet) high and 16 meters (52.5 feet) wide. The striking contrast of green glazed titles and red walls makes the tower elegant.
As a large comprehensive park, Yuexiu Park provides an amusement park, swimming pool, gymnasium, restaurants, stalls, museum and art museum besides plant and flower viewing area. All visitors find pleasure in Yuexiu Park.
Admission Fee: Free
Buses: Take bus 5, 7, 8, 12, 21, 22, 24, 40, 58, 87, 101, 103, 105, 108, 109, 111, 113, 124, 180, 182, 185, 211, 244, 265, 273, 384 and get off at Yuexiu Park Station.
Subway: Take Subway Line 2 to Yuexiu Park Station. Get out from Exit B1 to the main entrance of the park. Or take Subway Line 1 to Gongyuan Qian Station then change to Line 1 to Yuexiu Park.
The Pearl River has a length of more than 2,000 kilometers (about 1243 miles) and is the third longest river in China. Today, with the modern development of Guangzhou, ten bridges span the Pearl River. Along both banks of the river, high-rise buildings such as star-grade hotels and modern shopping malls stand in great numbers. Passing through such a prosperous city, the Pearl River, unlike other rivers displaying only natural beauty, boasts the type of scenery that only belongs to a modern urban area. When night falls, the Pearl River immediately starts to look more interesting. The bridges, decorated by colorful shining neon lights, seem like fantastic rainbows spanning the river. On both banks, the nightlife of the city awakens. It becomes gorgeous with a blaze of lights. The water in the river reflects the magnificent lights in shimmering patterns. Cruise ships full of tourists ply the waters at a leisurely pace. Visitors enjoy the gentle cool breeze and soak up the colorful night view. The night scene on the Pearl River is almost on a par with Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong.
During the day, people can walk the 'Scenery Corridor' alongside the river, enjoying the beautiful water scenes. The corridor, about 23 kilometers (14 miles) long, is actually a dike built especially for appreciating the scenery. In addition to the attractive water scenes along the Pearl River, people can also find historic and artistic buildings in Guangzhou including the Huangpu Military Academy (the first military academy in Chinese history), the Xinghai Concert Hall (which boasts an unusual elegant appearance), the Historic Site in Shamian (which includes hundreds of buildings in different architectural styles), and Tianzi Dock (which was used for greeting officials hundreds of years ago).
The Pearl River is like a ribbon that connects the historical sites and beautiful scenery along the river and shows people both the modern culture and the historical legacy of Guangzhou City.
Buses: 1, 128, 131B, 194, 219, 238 and off at Haizhu Square (Qiaoguang East) Station.
Subway: Take Subway Line 2 and get off at Haizhu Square Station
Subway: Take Subway Line 2 and get off at Haizhu Square Station
White Cloud Mountain
From ancient times, White Cloud Mountain has been one of the most famous spots of natural beauty in Guangzhou, and it's still known as the First Spectacular Scene of Guangzhou. Every time the sun shines after the rain, and through late spring, a wreath of airy clouds circles the mountains. This is how White Cloud Mountain has won its name, and its reputation as a marvelous spectacle of nature. The fierce differentiation of rocks, and the different ways in which erosion has affected them, has caused White Cloud Mountain a crisscross network of gullies. So its relative height is now about 100 meters (109 yards). The quiet and secluded environment of the valley has made White Cloud Mountain a haven of peace from the big city.
People always describe the natural beauty of Guangzhou as being composed of white cloud and pearl sea, the white cloud referring to that of White Cloud Mountain, located about 17 kilometers (10 miles) north of Guangzhou. The total area of White Cloud Mountain is about 28 square kilometers (10 square miles), consisting of 30 peaks. Moxing Ridge (Star-Scraping Ridge), known as 'the first peak under the southern sky', is about 382 meters (417 yards) high. You can stand on the summit and look over the whole city and the beautiful Pearl River, the most famous river in Guangzhou.
White Cloud Mountain is an ideal place for people to relax. It has six areas that are popular with visitors, Bright Pearl Building Park, the San tailing Summit Park, the Bird Spring Valley Park (Mingchun Valley), the Santailing Park, the Luhu Park and the Fei'eling Park. Yuntai Garden, a bright pearl in the crown of White Cloud Mountain, is located in Santailing Park. Yuntai Garden is an enormous garden filled with all kinds of blooms and trees, which make Guangzhou, City of Flowers, worthy of the name. The Sculpture Park is located in Fei'eling, and covers an area of 46 hectares (113 acres). It was built according to the fashion of the times, which was to use modern languages in sculpture. You will also find the biggest natural birdcage in China, perfect for enjoying all kinds of birds; Bird Spring Valley Park. Here you can stroll idly by the river and mountains, and mingle with the birds. Luhu Park is famous for Jinye Pond. The lake is so clear that the beautiful sights surrounding the lake are perfectly reflected in the water, like a brilliantly drawn picture.
Due to the recent rapid development of Guangzhou City, White Cloud Mountain is mostly surrounded by urban developments. A major beauty spot in a modern city with a population of 8,000,000 is really a most unusual occurrence. White Cloud Mountain is fairly known as a return to nature from the big city.
Admission Fee: CNY 10 for Yuntai Garden; CNY 30 for the rope way
Operate: 6am to 5pm
Buses: Take bus 24, 240, 285, Tourism Bus Line 3 and get off at Yuntai Garden Bus Station; or take bus 32, 46, 60, 127, 175, 179, 199, 223, 240, 241, 257, 298, 540, 543, 615, 841, 891 and get off at White Cloud Telpher (Baiyun Suodao) Station.
Subway: Take Subway Line 3 and get off at Meihuayuan Station. Walk about 1,200 meters to the Plum Garden of White Cloud Mountain
That Huaisheng Mosque in Guangzhou is one of the oldest mosques in China is not surprising, given that Guangzhou was where Islam was introduced to China in the 7th Century. The mosque is established for remembering the prophet of Islam, Mohammed. So the name of the mosque, Huaisheng, means 'remember the sage'. It is one of the four most well-known mosques in China, the other three being Yangzhou Crane Mosque, Quanzhou Kylin Mosque and Hangzhou Phoenix Mosque. Thus it is an excellent place to visit if you want to learn about Islamic culture in China.
Huaisheng Mosque is located at No. 56, Guangta Road. Built in 627, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the mosque covers an area of more than 2,966 square meters (3,547 square yards) and features six important buildings, the Imam Hall, the Wangyue Attic, the Covered Corridor, the Storehouse of Islamic Scripture, the Stone Steles Pavilion and the Light Tower.
The mosque is also named Light Tower Mosque. The Light Tower is a minaret, which used to serve as a beacon for boats on the Zhujiang River. In addition, sailors often climb up to the minaret to observe the weather conditions. Although the mosque presents a typical architectural style of the Tang Dynasty, the Light Tower seems to develop a new school of its own, which is deeply influenced by Arabic architectural flavor, an attractive feature of the mosque.
Today, Huaisheng Mosque still plays a very important role in Muslim life in Guanzhou, welcoming Muslims from all over the world, including many of the businessmen who attend the Chinese Export Commodities Fair - Canton Fair, to worship.
Admission Fee: only open to the Muslim people and tour groups
Buses: Take Guangzhou Subway Line 1 to Ximenkou Station. Get out from Exit B and then walk about 500 meters to Huaisheng Mosque; Take bus 56, 58 at Guangta Road Bus Station.