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Home Travel in Yunnan Jianshui - the Historic and Cultural City
Jianshui - the Historic and Cultural City
Travel in Yunnan


Located in southern Yunnan (yún nán 云南), north of middle reaches of Honghe River (hóng hé 红河), Jianshui County (jiàn shuǐ xiàn 建水县) neighbors Mile (mí lè 弥勒), Kaiyuan (kāi yuǎn 开远), Gejiu (gè jiù 个旧) in the east, Yuanyang (yuán yáng 元阳) in the south, Shiping (shí píng 石屏) in the west, and Tonghai (tōng hǎi 通海) and Huaning (huá níng 华宁) in the north. It is 220 kilometers from Kunming (kūn míng 昆明). The climatic condition is pleasant, neither hot in summer nor cold in winter. Here, the land is vast and fertile, the climate is moderate and mild. It is the well-known hometown of grain and sugarcane (liáng zhè zhī xiāng 粮蔗之乡) and an amazing place with mix culture of central plains and border.

History and Culture

jianshui2Jianshui is one of the earliest developed cities in south Yunnan that enjoys the fame of being an ancient cultural city and important gateway. Since the Yuan Dynasty, it was the political, cultural and communication center in south Yunnan. Jianshui got the name because the basin was flooded every summer and autumn. In Mandarin, it was called Jianshui. From the establishment of the city in the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD) to now, Jianshui County has had a history of over 1,180 years. It is one of the areas that have been deeply influenced by the Central Plains culture (zhōng yuán wén huà 中原文化). The long history of Jianshui has produced its splendid culture. Due to its early development, Jianshui produced thousands of scholars. Moreover, with the influence of the grand Jianshui Confucius Temple, it was rightfully called "the Cultural City" since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).


The age-old history, splendid culture and glorious tradition have produced many historic sites in Jianshui. With more than 100 ancient temples, 50 ancient bridges and 56 state-protection cultural relics, Jianshui enjoys the fame "the Museum of Ancient Constructions", which highlights the ancient Chinese culture and art.

Jianshui is also rich in natural resources, including manganese, iron, lead-zinc, copper and others. The reserve of discharge manganese accounts for one-third of the national total. Besides, Jianshui is devoted to developing local handicrafts, among which Jianshui earthenware is the most well known as it is one of the four celebrated potteries in China.

The Jianshui Confucius Temple

jianshui3The Jianshui Confucius Temple (wén miào 文庙), the biggest temple in Yunnan Province, is Located near the north Gate to Jianshui. Its scale is second only to that of the Qufu Confucius temple (qū fù kǒng miào 曲阜孔庙) in Shandong Province and is now one of the provincial historical relics. It is recorded that the Jianshui Confucius Temple was built in 1285. The temple covers an area of 114 mu, imitating the style of the Qufu Confucius Temple, namely, a central - axis structure like a palace. This complex includes a main hall, two side - halls, three pavilions, four gates, five clan halls and eight memorial archways, all of which are kept in gook splendid.

The temple is surrounded with trees giving it a solemn appearance. On the western side of the temple, there are two symbiotic trees. It is said that they were planted in the Yuan Dynasty. One is a cypress and the other is a banyan, which forms the unique picture ''Marshal Wan embracing Miss Bai'' (wàn jiāng jun1 bào bái xiǎo jiě 万将军抱白小姐).

Location: 268 Ling'an Road, Jianshui City
Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Admission Fee: CNY 10

The Chaoyang Gateway Arch

jianshui4Built in 1389, the Chaoyang Gate Arch (cháo yáng lóu 朝阳楼) stands in the Center of Jianshui County. Its significance to Jianshui is the same as that of Tiananmen (tiān ān mén 天安门) to Beijing; thus it has enjoyed the reputation of "the Miniature Tiananmen". It is the symbol of this ancient military town in the southeast border and an emblem of Jianshui, a historic and cultural city.

The Chaoyang Gateway Arch was built as the town's east gate tower (The Yinghui Gate). The huge three-story structure occupies an area of 414 square meters and has a height of 24.5 meters. It is composed of 48 big wooden pillars and numerous cross-beams, covered with triple roofs. Through 600 year's disasters, the Chaoyang Gateway Arch is the only extant tower. Today, the Chaoyang Gateway Arch is a public cultural center of Jianshui County.

Shuanglong Bridge (Double-Dragon Bridge)

jianshui5Five kilometers west of Jianshui , at the confluence of Lujiang River (lú jiāng 泸江) are the Tachong River (tā chōng hé 塌冲河), lies Shuanglong Bridge (shuāng lóng qiáo 双龙桥). A combination of science and art, the stone bridge ranks first in Yunnan Province in terms of size and artistic value. It is now under provincial protection. When the bridge was built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong (qián lóng huáng dì 乾隆皇帝) in the Qing Dynasty, it had only three arches on the north end. Later on, as the Tachong River changed its course, fourteen new bridge arches were added to the original ones and thus got the name "the Seventeen-Arch Bridge'' (shí qī kǒng qiáo 十七孔桥). It is a masterpiece among ancient bridges in China.

The Zhilin Temple

The Zhilin Temple (zhǐ lín sì 指林寺) in the west of Jianshui Town was built in 1296. With a longer history than the Jianshui Confucius Temple, it is considered the earliest Buddhist Temple in south Yunnan; thus it is rightfully called ''the Earliest Temple in Lin' an''. There is also a book written in 1450 and entitled An Inscriptional Reconstruction of the Zhilin Temple, depicting the history of how Zen Buddhism (chán zōng 禅宗) spread into Yunnan.

Location: Ling'an Road, Jianshui City
Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Admission Fee: CNY 20

The Private Garden of the Zhu Family

jianshui6The private Garden of the Zhu Family (zhū jiā huā yuán 朱家花园) lies in Jianxin Street (jiàn xīn jiē 建新街), Jianshui County and has a total area of 20,000 square meters and a floor space of 5,000 square meters. This grand complex is a typical local residence with distinctive features. As it was built by Zhu Weiqing (zhū wèi qīng 朱渭卿) and his brother in the late Qing Dynasty, it got the name ''the Private Garden of the Zhu Family''. With the well-arranged yards and well-furnished rooms and halls, the structure of the architecture can be described as ''streamlined'' it enjoys the fame ''the Daguan Garden at a Border Town'' (xī nán biān chuí dà guān yuán 西南边陲大观园). Large and magnificent buildings like the Private Garden of the Zhu family are now rarely seen in China. Today, it is one of the provincial cultural relics.

Location: 133 Jianxin Road, Ling'an town, Jianshui City
Tel: 0873-7653028
Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Admission Fee: CNY 20

The Former Residence of Zhu De

jianshui7The former Residence of Zhu De (zhū dé jiù jū 朱德旧居) was the dwelling place for Zhu De in 1912 - 1915 when he went to Jianshui as battalion commander of the local army. The 200 square meters residence, lying at 19 Hongjin Road, Jianshui County, was the private property of a schoolmate of Zhu De in Yunnan Land Force Lecture Academy (yún nán lù jūn jiǎng wǔ táng 云南陆军讲武堂). It is a courtyard house with three main and six wing rooms. During his stay in Jianshui, Zhu De lived in the three wing rooms on the east. The middle room served as the sitting room and the two wing -rooms were used as living rooms. Behind the rooms is a small yard that connects the living room. A small kitchen is in the yard and under it is a gate to the front garden where flowers, trees and bamboo are grown.

Location: 21 Hongjing Street, Jianshui City
Opening Hours: 08:00-18:00
Admission Fee: Free


Jianshui Purple Pottery

jianshui7As one of the China's four reputed potteries, Jianshui purple pottery (jiàn shuǐ zǐ táo 建水紫陶) has a long history of about 900 years; it is made from purple clay mixed by red, yellow, black, white and purple mud, and goes through moulding, drawing, carving, modifying, kilning and polishing; many of them are made in family-scale workshops in Jianshui County, south Yunnan province.

With pleasing luster, refined texture and melodious sound, Jianshui pottery is also made in to a variety of crafts like basins, bottles, tea sets, pen-containers and pots. In 1921, pottery masterpiece made by Mr. Xiang Fengchun (xiàng féng chūn 向逢春) was awarded on Expo. Panama. Purple-pottery steam-pot, engraved with Chinese calligraphic works, birds, flowers and plants, is a unique cooker in Yunnan and even China.

Edible Bird's Nest

jianshui9Analyses of the refined bird's nest reveal that it is rich in protein, calcium and phosphorus. Chinese people claim that it is a tonic that improves a woman's complexion and that it rejuvenates the spirit of the elderly. Bird's nest, they say, also helps to balance ones Yin (yīn 阴) and Yang (yáng 阳). It is considered to be better than any fancy medication so many people are willing to pay up to $250 per ounce or more for it in America.

Jianshui bird's nest is one of the finest qualities in the world. There are two kinds of places to develop the swiftlet bird's nest. They are in caves and in old or abandoned or cultivated houses.