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The Ancient Town of Lijiang, Yunnan Province 云南丽江古城

Profile:The Ancient Town of Lijiang, Yunnan Province 云南丽江古城
First built at the turn (later 13th century) between the Song and Yuan dynasties, the Ancient Town of Lijiang is located in Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County in Southwest China’s Yunnan Province. Situated on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau, the Ancient Town is over 2,400m above sea level and covers a land area of 3.8Km2. Since ancient times, it has been a well-known market place and a town of strategic importance. Currently, there are over 6,200 households and 25,000 residents in the Ancient Town. Naxi people make up the most part of the population. 30% of local residents are still mainly engaged in traditional handicraft and business activities such as copper and silver ware making, fur leather making, textile production and brewing.
Streets in the Ancient Town of Lijiang are built along the mountains and rivers and paved with red breccia stones to prevent muddy surfaces in the rainy season and dust in the dry season. Patterns on the stones are natural and elegant and perfectly match with the whole urban environment. The Square Street at the Center of the Ancient Town is a typical example of ancient streets in Lijiang.
Three hundred fifty-four bridges of various styles have been built along the Yuhe River Drainage System in the Ancient Town of Lijiang, with a density of 93 bridges/Km2. The famous ones include Suocui, dashi, Wanqian, Nanmen, Ma’an and Renshou bridges, all built in the Ming and Qing dynasties (14th~19th centuries). Among them, Dashi Bridge located 100M east of the Square Street is most characteristic.
The Mu’s Residence in the Ancient Town was originally the governing office of the hereditary chieftain Mu of Lijiang, which was first built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271~1368AD). It was rebuilt into the Ancient Town Museum in 1998. The Mu’s Residence covers a land area of 46 Mu (one Chinese Mu is 1/16 of a hectare). There are a total of 162 rooms in the Residence. 11 plaques given by emperors of the various dynasties are also hung inside, showing the rise and fall of the Mu family.
Twenty meters high, Wufeng (“Five Phoenixes” in Chinese) Building inside the Fuguo Temple in the Ancient Town of Lijiang was first built in the 29th year (1601AD) of the Wanli Period of the Ming Dynasty. The Building derived its name because its architectural form greatly resembles 5 flying phoenixes. Various beautiful patterns were painted on the ceiling. Wufeng Building integrates the architectural artistic styles of Han, Tibetan and Naxi nationalities and is a rare treasure and a typical model of ancient Chinese architecture.
The Baisha Residential House Complex is located 8Km north of the Ancient Town of Lijiang. It was once the political, economic and cultural center of the Lijiang region in the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th~14th centuries). The Complex is distributed along a main south-north axis, with a trapezoidal square at the center. A spring is led into the square from the north side, and four lanes spread out from the square, giving rise to a unique scene. The formation and development of the Baisha Residential House Complex laid the foundation for the subsequent layout of the Ancient Town of Lijiang.
The Shuhe Residential House Complex is a small fair located 4Km northwest of the Old Town of Lijiang. Residential houses of the architectural complex are well tiered, forming a layout similar to the Square Street in the Old Town of Lijiang. Qinglong River flows through the center of the architectural complex. Built in the Ming Dynasty (1368~1644AD), Qinglong Bridge crosses the river and is the largest stone arc bridge in Lijiang.
With a long history, the Ancient Town of Lijiang features primitive simplicity, naturalness and a wonderful urban mosaic of mountainous city scenery and water county style. Folk dwellings in Lijiang integrate the finest traditions of Han, Bai, Yi and Tibetan nationalities and bear the unique style of Naxi people, forming a rare legacy for the study of Chinese architectural and cultural histories. The Ancient Town of Lijiang contains rich traditional national culture, embodies the prosperity and development of Naxi ethic people and offers an important historical source of materials for the study of cultural development of mankind.

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