Comments on Ancient Building Complex in the Wudang Mountain by the World Heritage Committee
The palaces and temples which form the nucleus of this group of secular and religious buildings exemplify the architectural and artistic achievements of China’s Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties (1206-1911). Situated in the scenic valleys and on the slopes of the Wudang Mountain in Hubei Province, the site, which was built as an organized complex during the Ming Dynasty, contains Taoist buildings from as early as the 7th century. It represents the highest standards of Chinese art and architecture over a period of nearly 1,000 years.
Located in Shiyan City, northwest Hubei Province, the Wudang Mountain covers a total area of 312 square kilometers, with 72 peaks, 36 rocks, 24 gullies, 11 caves, 10 ponds and nine platforms which form one of the most famous Taoist sanctums in China.
The magnificent ancient building complex in the Wudang Mountain is centered on the palaces and Taoist temples, and surrounded by nunneries, halls and ancestral temples. It is generally regarded as the benchmark of the royal religious building complex. According to statistics, over 500 buildings were built on the mountain from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) saw the golden period of Taoist development on the mountain. All the Ming Emperors built the places where the Taoist rites were performed as their royal ancestral temples. During the Yongle reign (1403-1424) of the Ming Dynasty, a Taoist building complex comprised of nine palaces and nine Taoist temples, 36 nunneries and halls and 72 rock temples was built in 12 years, covering a total area of 1.6 million square meters. A comprehensive expansion was also carried out in 1552 or the 31st year of the Jiajing reign of the Ming Dynasty. The buildings we see today are mostly those constructed during the Ming Dynasty.
The Purple Clouds Palace was first built in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and underwent expansion during several subsequent dynasties, in particular the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is the largest and most complete Taoist building on the mountain, consisting of 29 buildings including the Dragon and Tiger Hall and Ten-Direction Hall and Purple Clouds Hall. Its principal building, the Purple Clouds Hall, is the most representative wooden structure on the mountain.
The Yuxu Palace is the largest palace on the mountain. First built in 1413 or the 11th year of the Yongle reign of the Ming Dynasty, it had various buildings such as halls, ancestral temples, altars and pavilions in its eastern, central and western courtyards, totaling in excess of 2,200 rooms. However, most of these structures were burned down in 1745 or the 10th year during the reign of the Qing Emperor Qianlong. Only Neiluo City and the Forbidden City remain. There are four inscribed steles of the Ming Dynasty in the Forbidden City.
Besides the ancient buildings, the Wudang Mountain preserves over 7,400 precious cultural relics, mostly Taoist, which has led to its being described as “the treasury of Taoist cultural relics”.
In addition, the Wudang martial art, also known as “Internal School of Boxing”, developed here and is regarded as one of the major genres of martial arts in China. It is an excellent way to build up health and gain personal cultivation.
About 30 trains pass through and services depart from the Shiyan Railway Station, by means of which one can get to Beijing, Shijiazhuang, Zhengzhou, Shanghai, Wuhan, Chongqing, Chengdu, Qingdao and Xiangfan. There is also a “Wudang” Tourist Train between Wuchang
The Wuchang-Chongqing Railway line passes by the foot of the Wudang Mountain. By disembarking at the Wudangshan Railway Station, one can easily reach the first major Taoist palace on the mountain, the Yuxu Palace.
Telephone of the Ticket Administrative Office: 0086-719-5665396
Tourists are advised to taste some of the special Taoist dishes served on the Wudang Mountain, which traditionally use mushrooms, bean curd products and noodles as their basic ingredients, the results being fresh and pure in taste as well as extremely nutritious. They are available at the Purple Clouds Palace and Taihe Palace. Other characteristic dishes include the Guangshui Pork, Braised Mixed Meat Balls, Huangpo Style, Mianyang Three Steamed Dishes, Xiangfan Pepper Soup and Wangyousha of Yunxian County. The old-style “Yongle Shengshi” Street in the area of Yuxu Palace, containing many snack stalls, is also highly recommended.