First Impressions

My trip to Chaozhou has set a personal milestone in my life, that is, on 10/24/15, the amount of cities I have traveled within China is equivalent to my physical age that year (24). To my surprise, the most beautiful aspect of the city is the Hanjiang river (汉江河), the river by far has the cleanest quality water in all my travels in China, even rivalling the beauty of Hangzhou’s West Lake. Fortunately, the weather was compliant and yielded clear blue skies embellished with the right amount of white clouds. The settings were all ripe to produce a great image of the Guangji bridge, which by far, is the most spectacular sight I have seen in China. It is basically a living portrait that is sandwiched by the natural canvas of the sky and water bellow. It was truly a site (sight) for sore eyes. This historic and scenic destination is probably the most representative of Chaozhou, arguably more than the local cuisine here that my Chinese national friends boast about.

Fenghuang Tower 凤凰塔

“位于古城外东南约2公里处的韩江之滨,因遥对凤凰山,又与隔江的凤凰台相望,因名。凤凰塔右的韩江支流北溪旱时溪水常涸,俗名“涸溪”,故此塔又称涸溪塔。凤凰塔始建于明万历十三年(1585),清乾隆三十年(1765)重修。塔基须弥座分雕龙、凤、鹤、马、羊等各种祥禽瑞兽和精美的花卉。座的几个角还刻有各种不同造型、不同形态的力士像”

The tower was erected in 1585 and renovated again in 1765. The stone enclosure surrounding the tower is decorated with various animalistic carvings of ancient China’s mythological creatures, along with animals representative of luck and fortune in the zodiac. During my visit, the tower grounds were not maintained well, moreover, the tower itself was still presently under renovation.

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Guangji Bridge 广济桥

“广济桥在潮州市之东,广济桥是中国古代著名桥梁之一,始建于南宋乾道六年(1170年),历时57年建成,全长515米,分东西两段18墩,中间一段宽约百米,因水流湍急,未能架桥,只用小船摆渡,当时称济州桥。 明宣德十年(1435年)重修,并增建五墩,称广济桥;正德年间,又增建一墩,总共24墩。桥墩用花岗石块砌成,是中国桥梁建筑中的一份宝贵遗产。中段用18艘梭船联成浮桥,能开能合,当大船、木排通过时,可以将浮桥中的浮船解开,让船只、木排通过。然后再将浮船归回原处。这是中国、也是世界上最早的一座开关活动式大石桥。 此桥在明代曾大修过五次,并在桥墩上建起24座形式不同的“望楼”(已毁)”

The Guanji Bridge is one of China’s four famous ancient bridges, constructed during the Song dynasty around year 1170, took around 57 years for the bridge to be fully built. The entire bridge stretches for about 515 meters, in the middle exists 18 individual small boats which together forms a pontoon bridge. The design of this pontoon bridge was intended to allows ships or boats to traverse between the centre of the bridge or to reduce the impact of a flood by funnelling the force of the flood into the centre and dispersing the pressure through the individual channels between the individual boats. The special feature of the Guangji Bridge is that the 24 design and style of each watchtower are unique and distinct from one another.

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Ancient Wall of Chaozhou 潮州古府城墙

古府城墙位于广东省。是一座明朝时期的汉族古建筑。在宋代已成规模,至和初年再筑土城,绍兴年间又以石砌、绍定、端平年间先后大规模增修筑建,形成了外廓内城并绕以城濠的完备格局。由于朝代的更迭,战火的破坏,元末明初已是破烂不堪。明洪武(1379年),指挥俞良辅重辟城西南,增筑石墙,全面修建府城墙.古城墙是一本记载古城文化的大书。潮州的古城墙是全国古城墙保存得最完整、最长久之一”
The architecture of the City Wall originates design language of the Han people around the time of the Ming dynasty. During the exchanges of dynasties, at the end of the Yuan dynasty and the beginning of Ming, the walls were devastated. At the command of Ming Hong Wu in the year 1379, the walls were rebuilt. Chaozhou’s Ancient City Wall is one of China’s oldest and completely preserved City Walls.
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Kaiyuan Temple 开元寺

“开元寺位于广东省潮州市区中心。前身为荔峰寺,唐代开元二十六年(738年)敕建开元寺,元代改为“开元万寿禅寺”,明代称:“开元镇国禅寺”,又称”镇国开元禅寺”,加额“万寿宫”,俗称开元寺一直沿用至今。经历一千二百馀年地震、海潮、台风、雷电、冰雹等自然灾害,以及历代战乱、人为摧残而又不断修建,至今仍保持着唐宋宫殿式庄严肃穆的建筑风格。据当代古建筑专家考证:日本著名东大寺佛殿的宋代建筑模式,与现在开元寺天王殿一模一样,证实了天王殿为宋代建筑,具有很高的研究价值,经常有国内外的建筑学院组织师生至此观摩学习,被誉为“古代建筑艺术明珠”。

The Kaiyuan Temple echoes its existence since the Tang dynasty Kaiyuan 26 year (or year 738), through out the years the name of this temple ranged from “Kaiyuan Towns National Buddhist Temple” or “10,000 Longevity Palace”, however, its been commonly known as the Kaiyuan Temple up till present day. The temple has weathered 1200+ years of earthquakes, typhoons, lightning storms, and other time of natural disasters and historical wars; regardless of the damages the temple endured due to this events, the people throughout the time preserved its Tang-Song dynasty design and architecture. According to a modern ancient architecture professional, Japan’s famous Tokyo Buddhist Temple’s Song dynasty motifs are identical to Kaiyuan Temple’s own design, as a result, the temple has been honoured with the term of “the pearl of ancient architecture and art”.

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Han Wen Gong Memorial 韩文公祠

韩愈(768~824)唐代文学家、哲学家。字退之,河阳(今河南省焦作孟州市)人,汉族。祖籍河北昌黎,世称韩昌黎。晚年任吏部侍郎,又称韩吏部。谥号“文”,又称韩文公。他是唐代古文运动的倡导者,主张学习先秦两汉的散文语言,破骈为散,扩大文言文的表达功能。宋代苏轼称他“文起八代之衰”,明人推他为唐宋八大家之首,与柳宗元并称“韩柳”,有“文章巨公”和“百代文宗”之名. 在思想上是中国“道统”观念的确立者,是尊儒反佛的里程碑式人物。

Hanyu, 768~824, Han’s people and Heyin native, a Tang dynasty literarian, thinker, and philosopher. The secular world referred to him as Han Chang Li. He was Tang dynasty’s Classical Chinese movement initiator, advocated the learning of the Qin’s two Han people’s prose language and expanded the writing, usage, and expression of Classical Chinese. He became the milestone as he supported Confucian thought and opposed Buddhist ideologies.

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Chaozhou Changli Old Office 潮州昌黎旧治坊

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Chaozhou West Lake Park 潮州西湖公园

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Last Thoughts 

Extremely thankful to have the opportunity to experience the beauty of this city. I would definitely recommend a trip to Chaozhou, the Guangji Bridge is honestly the main attraction.


*Majority of contents are derived from the sources provided in the hyperlinks. Thus, the credit goes to the original authors of those links.

*These experiences were made possible by the Gilman Scholarship 

潮州 10-24-15