Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Huangshan – Tunxi: A Former Claretian Enclave in China

Some 80 years ago Claretian missionaries arrived in Tunxi, Anhui Province in China and their residence was a few meters away from the famous Tunxi Street. They were forced to leave in 1949, but they left behind a vibrant Christian community. But let me tell you first about the surrounding place, half hour away by car:

The Yellow Mountains or Huangshan Mountains

The famous scrolls of Chinese black and white paintings of high mountains, rocks, trees and sea of clouds come alive in Huangshan Mountains in the south Anhui province. It is a marvelous mountain area, now on the UNESCO World Cultural and Natural Heritage List. There is an old saying well known throughout the country "No need to see any other mountains after Huangshan!"

Huangshan has spectacular landscape with its four unique scenes: interesting shaped rocks, waterfalls, unique shaped pine trees growing out of rocks, and its sea of clouds. Huangshan has all, the steepness, the grace, the elegance, and so on. Huang Shan Mountain area is such a marvelous place with spectacular vista and its ever-changing scenes attract tourists in all seasons and inspire countless Chinese painters and poets for thousands of years.

The Huangshan mountain range comprises many peaks, 77 of which exceed 1,000 meters in altitude. The World Heritage Site covers a core area of 154 square kilometers and a buffer zone of 142 square kilometers.

The mountains were formed in the Mesozoic, about 100 million years ago, when an ancient sea disappeared due to uplift. Later, in the Quaternary, the landscape was shaped by the influence of glaciers. In many cases, stone pillar forests were formed.

And now back to the city of Huangshan:
Tunxi Ancient Street in Huangshan City (China)

At the foot of the Mt. Huangshan, in the bend of Xin'an River, lies the beautiful mountain town called "Tunxi ". The "Tunxi Ancient Street" can be found in this old city.

The street is about 1.5km and the sides of the street are laid with slab stones.

There are hundreds of old but well preserved rows of shops, evoking a bygone era in buildings that are simple and elegant. It is a commercial street that is only for pedestrians.

An ancient Western-European architect once visited the old street and said that he had found "The Eastern Ancient Rome."

First built over 700 years ago, during the Song Dynasty (960-1279), the street is flanked by some buildings from this period.

Most of the buildings are only three stories high, stone-based and brick-laid. They are decorated with small green tiles, wood carvings in the Hui style, ancient shop signs, and red-lacquered with double eaves on the roofs. They are simple and elegant, magnificent and clean.

The street with centuries-old history dates back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Emperor Huizong (1082-1135) moved his seat of government to Lin'an (now is Hangzhou), when many architects and workmen were conscripted to construct the new capital. After returning to their hometown, they imitated the structural style to build architecture along the street, so Tunxi Ancient Street was formed.

The place where the Claretians had their residency, very near the old Tuenxi street, is now occupied by a luxurious hotel.


tian cangkung said...

hope to visit this historical place next time..tian shen fu, QC, Php

tian cangkung said...

Hope to visit this historical place next time. tian shen fu, QC, Php