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Shijiazhuang: A City Pulled to Hebei by Train

   Shijiazhuang

Shijiazhuang (shí jiā zhuāng 石家庄), the capital of Hebei (hé běi 河北) Province, located in the vicinity of the North China Plain (huá běi píng yuán 华北平原). It borders Beijing, Tianjin (tiān jīn 天津) and Baoding (bǎo dìng 保定) in the north, Bohai Sea (bó hǎi 渤海) and Hengshui (héng shuǐ 衡水) in the east, Xingtai (xíng tái 邢台) in the south, and lies against the continuous Taihang Mountains (tài háng shān 太行山) in the west. Covering an area of 15.8 thousand square kilometers (6100.4 square miles), it has 6 districts, 12 counties, 5 county-level cities and 1 national-level new and high-tech development zone under its prefecture.
Shijiazhuang is often referred to as being lucky in recent Chinese history. Once a small village, it developed under modern railway construction. A century ago, when the Lu-Han (lú hàn 卢汉) Railway stretched to the former Shijiazhuang Village, it brought with it new opportunities, opening an industrial chapter in Shijiazhuang. No one could have predicted that this small, unknown village would have developed rapidly into the modern capital city of Hebei Province. Shijiazhuang is a newly industrialized city. It experienced dramatic growth after the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 and was not relatively prominent until that time. It is a central hub of transportation routes.
As the economic, political, cultural and scientific center of Hebei Province, Shijiazhuang is becoming more and more beautiful with recent urban development. A jade-like moat embraces the city gently, bordered by 20 charming parks. This beautiful city is filled with culture and development, attracting visitors with new features daily.

Folk Art and Handicraft

Changshan War Drum Changshan War Drum (cháng shān zhàn gǔ 常山战鼓) has a long history, which had its embryo early in the Warring States Period (zhàn guó shí qī 战国时期 473 BC-221 BC), and prevailed in the Ming dynasty. It is a folk gong-drum made up of some percussion instruments such as drum, big-cymbals (dà bó 大钹), mid-cymbals, small-cymbals, gong (luó 锣) and so on. It is mainly used in performance in square. The team of Changshan War Drum is constituted of more than forty provisional peasantry drummer, who once took park in the open performing of the 11th Asian Sport Meeting (yà zhōu yùn dòng huì 亚洲运动会) in Beijing in 1990, and got the high appraise.

Xinji Peasant Painting Xinji (xīn jí 辛集), located in the east of Shijiazhuan City, Hebei Province, prides itself on its talented craftsmen skilled in peasant painting. Xinji Peasant Painting (xīn jí nóng mín huà 辛集农民画) has helped put this little city on the list of China’s most recognized places for handicrafts. Chinese Peasant Painting was first emerged in the 1950s and took shape in the 1970s. Just as the name implies, Chinese Peasant paintings are created by Chinese farmers or peasant artists. Chicken and fish serve as the common subjects of Chinese folk art in that the Chinese words of ji (jī 鸡) and yu (yú 鱼) sound like the term for auspiciousness and plenty respectively.

Xinji Peasant Painting Xinji Peasant Painting is full of bright and contrasting colors, and focus on the simplistic but joyous lives of peasants. Most pictures involve peasants engaging in everyday activities including harvesting, fishing, farm work, herding, festivities, village customs and family life.
Xinji Peasant Painting has been shown in many museums and exhibitions within China and in the world. Its work has been displayed in over thirty countries including Germany, Austria, America, Italy and Sweden. In 1988, Xinji was officially given the title “The County of Chinese Modern Folk Paintings (zhōng guó xiàn dài mín jiān huì huà huà xiāng 中国现代民间绘画画乡)” by the Ministry of Culture (wén huà bù 文化部).

Scenic Spots

     Zhaozhou Bridge

The well-known Zhaozhou Bridge (zhào zhōu qiáo 赵州桥), also known as Anji Bridge (ān jì qiáo 安济桥) or Dashi Bridge (dà shí qiáo 大石桥), is the earliest and best-preserved open-spandrel stone arch bridge (chǎng jiān shí gǒng qiáo 敞肩石拱桥) now in existence. It located on the Xiaohe (xiáo hé 洨河) River in Zhao County (zhào xiàn 赵县), Hebei Province. It is the largest and oldest stone-arched bridge in the world. It took 11 years to complete the bridge-from the first to the 11th year of the Daye (dà yè 大业 605-616) period  of the Sui Dynasty (suí cháo 隋朝 581-618). Bridge designer Li Chun (lǐ chūn 李春) built the Zhaozhou Bridge south of Beijing with a stone arch made of massive limestone wedges reinforced with iron. The innovative main arch of the Zhaozhou Bridge curves to form a shallow arch rather than the half circle preferred by Roman engineers at the time. Li's creativity and ingenuity in producing such a unique design and structure has won the admiration of many people. The Zhaozhou Bridge predates any comparable development in Europe by several hundred years.

Zhaozhou Bridge The Zhaozhou Bridge is 50.82 meters long and 9.6 meters wide, the span of its large stone arch in the middle measures 37.37 meters-the world's largest arch at the time. There is also a smaller symmetrical arch at each end. This kind of structure not only requires less building materials but also makes sluicing during the flood season much easier. The bridge floor is smooth and flat with passages for pedestrians on both sides, while carriages and carts can move through the middle. The apex of the arch is fairly high so that boats can also pass through easily. The bridge is ingeniously designed, with a well-proportioned layout, solid structure and a magnificent and attractive outward appearance.
With a history of about 1400 years, Zhaozhou Bridge has gone through numerous natural disasters, including at least 10 floods, 8 wars and many earthquakes. In year 1996, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Xingtai, about 24.85 miles from the bridge, but it remained safe and sound. The great bridge expert MaoYisheng once said, the fact that 1300 years was enough to prove the integrity of its entire structure, let alone the inner structure of smaller spans. It is documented that the bridge has been restored 9 times since its construction.

                                              (click to check the map)
Ticket: RMB 35
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Tel: 0311-4902618

     Mt.Cangyan Scenic Area

Mt. Cangyan Scenic Area (cāng yán shān fēng jǐng qū 苍岩山风景区), with an altitude of 1,000 meters, is located 80 kilometers southwest of Shijiazhuang City, capital of Hebei Province. Mt. Cangyan Scenic Area is a national AAAA tourist attraction in China, and the scenic area covers an area of 180 square kilometers (69 square miles). With a long history, and covering an area of 63 square kilometers, the area is characterized by grotesque stones, verdant cypress trees, temples and pagodas. Like a bright pearl nestled in the Taihang Mountains. It is a famous scenic area that integrates tourism, recreation, health-building and scientific research.
Mt. Cangyan Scenic Area is renowned for its natural landscape and some cultural and historical attractions. It has verdant forests, magnificent waterfalls, crystal streams and springs, steep cliffs and queer peaks. Visitors should not miss the white sandalwood trees growing beside the mountain streams and about 2,000 to 3,000 years old cypresses on the cliffs.
Besides being a resort for sightseeing and traveling, Mt Cangyan is also a famous mountain of Buddhist culture. Many temples, pavilions, terraces and other buildings are constructed on the cliffs or in the valley. Legend has it that Princess Nanyang (nán yáng gōng zhǔ 南阳公主) once became a nun and practiced Buddhism there.

the Qiaolou Hall The Fuqing Temple (fú qìng sì 福庆寺) consists of the Dafo Hall (dà fó diàn 大佛殿), the Princess Memorial Hall (gōng zhǔ cí 公主祠), the Qiaolou Hall (qiáo lóu diàn 桥楼殿) and other structures. The Qiaolou Hall is the main structure of the Fuqing Temple. It is constructed on a single arch stone bridge which is about 15 meters (49 feet) long and nine meters (30 feet) wide. On the arch of the bridge are carved life size images of beasts, horses and human beings. The Qiaolou is a two storied building built in the Sui Dynasty and houses the statues of Sakyamuni (shì jiā mù ní 释迦牟尼) and eighteen arhats and some murals.
The Princess Memorial Hall is situated to the north of the Qiaolou Hall. In the hall stand the statue of Princess Nanyang with her two sisters attending to her. On the walls are painted some murals recording the stories of Princess Nanyang. Behind the hall is a cave which is said to be the princess' bedroom.

                                              (click to check the map)
Ticket: RMB 50
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Tel: 0311-82324104

     Longxing Temple

Longxing Temple (lóng xīng sì 隆兴寺) lies in Zhengding (zhèng dìng 正定) Country, 16 km from Shijiazhuang. It is one of the few big monasteries dating from such an early period and still intact in China, and was built in the 6th year of Kaihuang period, Sui Dynasty (586 AD). Zhao Kuangyin (zhào kuāng yìn 赵匡胤) ordered a huge bronze statue of Kwan-yin (guān yīn 观音) to be cast, and the Pavillion of Great Benevolence (dà bēi gé 大悲阁) was built to house it. Then the temple was enlarged, thus establishing the layout and scope of the temple as it is today. The temple was repaired in Jin (jīn 金), Yuan (yuán 元) and Ming Dynasties.
Pavillion of Great Benevolence In the 49th year of the Kangxi (kāng xī 康熙) period, the temple was given its present name, Longxing Temple. It now covers an area of 82,500 square metres with its main buildings stretching from south to north, which is typical of a temple of the Song Dynasty.
The temple consists of the Hall of Heavenly Kings (tiān wáng diàn 天王殿), Hall of Manichaean (mó ní diàn 摩尼殿), Pavillion of Kindness (cí shì gé 慈氏阁), Pavillion of Zhuanlunzang (zhuàn lún cáng gé 转轮藏阁), Pavillion of Great Benevolence, Hall of Amitabha (mí tuó diàn 弥陀殿) and so on. Though they were rebuilt several times, they still retain the style of the Song Dynasty. There are also vast amounts of art treasures such as upright stone tablets, sculpture and paintings. It provides important evidence of the development of ancient Chinese architecture and culture.
Kwan-yin statue Pavillion of Great Benevolence is at the back part of the central line, and it is the main building of the temple. It is 33 meters high, 7-bay wide and 5-bay long. It has three storeys and five layers of eaves. Its gable and hip roof is covered with green glazed tiles. According to the documents, the Pavillion of Great Benevolence was built in the Kaibao (kāi bǎo 开宝) period (968-976) of the Northern Song Dynasty, and rebuilt in 1944. A bronze Kwan-yin statue with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes towering in the hall. The 22-meter-high bronze statue appears calm and at ease, and the lines of her clothes are smooth. The Kwan-yin has 42 arms, holding sun, moon, sword, cane and other musical instruments. It is one of the largest bronze statues extant in China.
the Longcang Tablet
Because of the long history, the Longxing Temple has a lot of tablets in it, among which the Longcang Tablet (lóng cáng sì bēi 龙藏寺碑) is the most precious one. It holds an important position in the history of China's calligraphy, as Kang Youwei (kāng yǒu wéi 康有为), the famous scholar in the late years of the Qing Dynasty, put it: “This tablet has the characteristics of all the tablets in the six dynasties, and surely can be classified as the No. 1 Tablet not simply in the Sui Dynasty (cǐ liù cháo jí chéng zhī bēi 此六朝集成之碑, fēi dú wéi suí bēi dì yī yě 非独为隋碑第一也).”


Transportation:
Take Tourist Bus NO.211 at Shijiazhuang Railway Station (shí jiā zhuāng huǒ chē zhàn 石家庄火车站) can get there.
Ticket: RMB 40
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Tel: 0311-88789987

    Zhangshiyan Scenic Area

Covering an area of 120 square km, the Zhangshiyan Scenic Area (zhāng shí yán fēng jǐng qū 嶂石岩风景区) is located at the southwest of Zanhuang (zàn huáng 赞皇) County, Hebei Province, 100 km from Shijiazhuang City. The Zhangshiyan Scenic Area is a range of screen-like mountains with high peaks, where the peaks and the foot of the mountains are covered in greenery. The whole landscape embodies a certain magnificence, awe, beauty and serenity. The highest peak is Huangannao (huáng ān nǎo 黄庵垴), which is 1,774 meters above sea level.
Red Rock and Red Cliff The natural ecosystem in the scenic area is well preserved and the rate of coverage of vegetation amounts to more than 80%. In spring, birds sing and flowers give forth their fragrance. In midsummer, the clouds are like a sea and the spring’s water flows. In deep autumn, the whole mountain is full of red leaves. In cold winter, the icicles make a forest. The main sights are Red Rock and Red Cliff (dān yá chì bì 丹崖赤壁), Clear Spring and Flying Waterfall (qīng quán fēi pù 清泉飞瀑), Ancient Temple and Tablets (gǔ chà bēi kè 古刹碑刻) as well as Forest of Icicles (dòng zhù chéng lín 冻柱成林).
The ridges and peaks of the Zhangshiyan Scenic Area are a magnificent sight. The third-grade great fault cliffs are extremely precipitous and majestic. The peaks and precipices, each with its own characteristics and strong points, amount to 72 mountains and 36 precipices. The natural echo precipice is stunning with its articulation of echoes it ranks first in China, and that is seldom seen in the world. Here, two ridges and one valley make up one complete "set", with a total of 24 sets, where the bigger ones appear to be grandiose and the smaller ones, delicate. In each set, there are deep woods and innumerable mountains and valleys with strange stones and springs pouring down from among them.

Zhangshiyan Scenic Area The Zhangshiyan Scenic Area boasts many ponds and springs that contract well with each other, and well-connected waterfalls and streams. There are mainly three ponds-Black Dragon pond (hēi lóng tán 黑龙潭), Small Dragon pond (xiǎo lóng tán 小龙潭) and the Fishing Terrace (diào yú tái 钓鱼台), two man-made lakes-Crescent Moon Lake (bàn yuè hú 半月湖) and Tamed Dragon Lake (suǒ lóng hú 锁龙湖), and 10 springs and five waterfalls. The springs include Huai Pond (huái quán 槐泉), Zhangnan Pond (zhāng nán quán 嶂南泉), Xianren Pond (xiān rén quán 仙人泉), Tianchi Pond (tiān chí 天池) and so on. Each of the springs has its own features, with some flowing out of the cliffs like a white ribbon, while others are ejected from the earth like a golden thread or precious beads; some drop down from the cliffs along the stalactite. 
                                              (click to check the map)

Ticket: RMB 50 in high season, RMB 30 in low season
Opening hours: 9:00-16:00
Tel: 0311-4260051

Last Updated on Wednesday, 21 April 2010 11:54
 

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