Jinan, capital of Shandong Province, is a famous historical and cultural city known as the “Capital of Springs” or “City of Springs” since ancient times. “Baotu” “Black Tiger”, “Pearl”, and “Five-Dragon” are the names of the four best known of the 72 springs in this charming city, which is situated with Mount Taishan in the south and the Yellow River in the north. Other attractions: Thousand-Buddha Mountain, Daming Lake, and Lingyan Temple with the Four-Door Pagoda.
Mount Taishan, its main peak at an elevation of 1,545 metres, and its smudge of peaks looking majestic in their sheer masses, is regarded as the holiest of all the five holy mountains in China. For its long history, scientific value and natural beauty, Taishan has been designated as a world natural and cultural heritage site. The Daimiao and Bixia temples are among the mountain’s major sites of historical interest, and the Yuhuang (Jade Emperor) and Riguan (Sun-Watching) peaks are primary scenic spots. A visit to Mount Taishan not only brings one in touch with its peaks and stones of imaginary images, ancient trees famed rich in cultural implications, and its awesome topographical wonders-it also provides the opportunity to marvel at stone tablets inscribed with poems composed by emperors and poets. Watching the sunrise atop the mountain is definitely a fascinating experience.
Qufu is another famous historical and cultural city of China. During the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods, Qufu was the capital of the state of Lu, and the native place of Confucius, a celebrated thinker and educator and the father of Confucianism. Chinese rulers and scholars of various dynasties held Confucius in high esteem, and the Confucian temple, mansion and graveyard were built in Qufu as a result, which are now on the UNESCO’S list of world cultural heritage sites. Confucian Temple, where libations and sacrifices were offered to Confucius, is a complex of tall and elegant buildings. Confucian Mansion, where the thinker’s scions resided and ran official business, is another giant courtyard with 463 halls, chambers and rooms. Confucian Graveyard, where the remains of Confucius and those of his descendents are buried, is a 200-hectare affair planted with more than 100,000 ancient trees. When visiting Qufu, don’t miss the chance of tasting the dishes prepared in the Confucian kitchen. The classical concerts and dances staged nightly at Qufu’s Queli Guesthouse are worth seeing for their authentic Spring and Autumn and Warring States styles. Qufu can be reached by bus from Jinan and Taishan.
Zoucheng, a neighbouring city of Qufu, was the native place of another ancient Chinese thinker, Mencius. The Mencius temple, mansion and graveyard in the city are as majestic and elegant as their counterparts in Qufu. Zoucheng also has something else to offer its visitors: the famous and scenic Yishan Mountain, and a Ming cemetery.
Qingdao in east Shandong is a fine harbour on the Yellow Sea. It is also a renowned beach resort. Numerous European-style villas and churches have turned the city into a veritable world architecture museum. Qingdao boasts a lot of fine bathing beaches, one of them having been converted into a national summer resort-Shilaoren (Old Stone Man) National Holiday Resort, which is equipped with a 18-hold golf course, an international beer city and an amusement park-on-the-sea, in addition to some posh hotels, villas and apartment buildings. Zhangqiao (Plank Pathway), Lesser Qingdao, and Badaguan (Eight Major Passes) are among the scenic attractions in the city. To the southeast of Qingdao is Laoshan Mountain, a national scenic Zone and major Taoist sanctuary with 10 well-preserved temples. As renowned as Qingdao’s landscape is Qingdao Beer. The International Qingdao Beer Festival takes place in summer every year along with the International Marine Festival.
Yantai is another famed port city and seaboard tourist city in northeast Shandong. Quite a few historical relics bear witness to visits by Qinshihuang, who founded the Qin, and Emperor Wudi of the Han. Eighty-three km off the shore of Yantai is Penglai, a fairyland-like resort on the northernmost tip of Shandong Peninsula. The mystique of Penglai is mostly ascribed to the mirages that occur beyond the sea, and the Penglai pavilion proves an ideal place for watching the sea and enjoying the sunrise.
Zibo, an eastern Shandong city 110 km from Jinan, is another famous cultural and historical city. It is where ruins of the Dawenkou culture of 7,000 years ago and the Longshan culture of 7,000 years ago and the Longshan culture of 4,000 years ago have been found. During the Warring States Period Zibo was the capital of the state of Qi and the largest city in the east. Many celebrated thinkers, including Confucius, Mencius, Xun Zi, had visited the city on lecture tours. The former residence of Pu Songling (1640-1715), author of the Qing classic Strange Tales from a Carefree Studio, is there. The rare discovery of a large Spring and Autumn Period tomb with chariots and horses prompted City Hall to build the Chinese Ancient Chariot Museum in 1994.
Educational Tour of Qufu
Shandong was the cradle of education in the east in ancient times. Apricot Altar at the Confucian Temple of Qufu was where Confucius lectured. An educational tour of Qufu enables tourists to learn Chinese calligraphy, classical Chinese musical instruments and cooking, with graduation ceremonies taking place in the Confucian Mansion. They may also visit schools, cultural facilities and famed scenic resorts.
Shandong, the native place of Wang Xizhi, a pre-eminent calligrapher of ancient times, abounds in calligraphic resources. Over 70 percent of China’s Han-dynasty stone tablets are found in this province, not to mention so many ancient stone inscriptions preserved in Mount Taishan, Yishan Mountain, Wenfeng Mountain in Yantai, and Laoshan and Tainzhu mountains in Qingdao.
Among the endangered species of birds inhabiting the national nature reserves on Long Island and in Yellow River Delta, are red-crested cranes and golden eagles under first-class state protection. In spring and autumn, these nature reserves provide excellent stopovers for migratory birds. Both places are dream places for lovers of mankind’s two-legged friends.