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Taishan Mountain---a world natural and cultural heritage in China

Brief

Covering an area of 15,866 km2, Taishan World Geopark is located in Tai’an City, Shandong Province, bordering Jinan City in the North, Qupu(Confucius’s hometown, 曲阜) in the South, the ceramics capital Zibo(淄博) in the East and Yellow River in the West. It main body,Mt Taishan, the king of "Five Great Mountains", is a perfect blending of striking natural sceneries, ancient geological relics as well as irreplaceable cultural and religious content. It is the cradle of Confucianism, the birthplace of Daewenkou culture and Longshan culture, the worship center of emperors and a ritual site of Buddhists as well as Taoists. In ancient times, it was the symbol of the nation in peaceful and prosperous condition, with consolidated sovereignty and united citizens. The high-rank officials, famous learners or masters as well as emperors will visit this holy mountain to gain inspiration or to perform the grand Fengshan ritual. Numerous famous essays and poems are left to show its greatness and holiness.

The past thousands of years have witnessed Mt Taishan evolves from a natural mountain to a civilization mountain, from a civilization mountain to a spiritual holly mountain and finally, becomes one of the symbols of Chinese culture. It is unique and cannot be copied in the world. Embodied by architecture, paintings, sculptures, mountains, rocks and forests, the splendid oriental culture finds the fullest expressions here.

In Taishan World Geopark, there are 156 peaks, 138 cliffs, 72 famous caves, 72 famous giant stones, 130 streams and valleys, 64 waterfalls and pools, 72 famous springs, 42 old relic sites, 13 old tombs,58 ancient architectures, 1239 steles, 1277 stone carvings or inscriptions on the cliffs, 14 grotto statues and thousands of cultural and historical collections. By the way, in China, people call father-in-laws as "Taishan" also .

Mount Taishan has been a UNESCO World Natural and Cultural Heritage Site since 1987 and a World Geopark since 2006 . On 8 May 2007, it was formally listed to be a state-level 5-A tourism scenic area.
 


 

 Top Natural Wonders: the Sea of Clouds

 Top Natural Wonders: the Winding Yeallow River
  

 Top Natural Wonders: Evening Glow

 Top Natural Wonders: Sunrise

 

 

Main Cultural Sites

 

Initially known as Mt Daizong, Mt Taishan inherits its contemporary name since the Era of Spring and Autumn(770 BC-403 BC) with the title of Dongyue (Chinese东岳,literally means the oriental great Mountain). It is a delicate bonsai with the high geological, historical, cultural, artistic and aesthetic value. Many idioms associate with Mt Taishan such as“稳如泰山,wen ru tai shan”, which praises people with calm mind amid chaos situation.

Sharing the same significance as the Great Wall and Yangtze River, the imposing Mt Taishan embodies the essential part of Chinese philosophy: Confusionism and local beliefs such as Shigandan Spirit. It also embraces the idea of syncretism of human and nature. Thus, it is a mountain built more by culture, philosophy, beliefs and religions than by forests and rocks.

Mt Taishan is one of the cradles of ancient civilization along Yellow River area. Remains of human presence at Mt Tai can be traced back to Paleolithic period. Human settlement of the area can be proven from the neolithic period onwards. Dawenkou Culture Relics and Longshan Culture Relics distributed on south and north ridge of Mt Taishan are hard evidence. Earlier than Dawenkou and Longshan culture are the Xintai Man Fossils over 50000 years ago and Qiyuan Man Fossils of 400000 years ago. During the Spring and Autumn Period, Mt Taishan sits between two rival states: Qi and Lu. The State of Qi built a 500 km-long wall to defense itself which is deemed as the oldest great walls in China. Ruins of it remain intact today.

Mt Taishan is a holly mountain with strong religious touch and solid political bond. Religious worship in Mt Taishan dated back to 3000 years ago during Shang Period and Qing Dynasty before it developed into an official imperial rite. Emperors and kings of various dynasties will follow the routine to pay homage to heaven and earth on Mt Taishan's peak and foot, to carry out the Feng (Chinese:封) and Shan (Chinese:禅) sacrifices respectively. According to the record, since Emperor Qin Shihuang held the first Fengshan Ceremony in Mt Taishan, his son and other emperors include Emperor Hanwudi all obeyed the routine, and 72 emperors performed the Fengchan ritual in this holy mountain successively.  From Qin and Han Dynasties to the end of Ming and Qing Dynasties, a total of 27 Fengchan rituals were carried out.

As the popularization of Five-Element theory, Taishan Mountain was honored as the east holy mountain. In Han dynasty (206BC-189AD) and Wei Kingdom (196-265), Taoism emerged in Taishan World Geopark, and in 351AD, Buddhism took root here, accompanied by a serial of temples constructed successively. Sites associated with Sage Confucius include Confucius’ Ascending Memorial Arch, Overlooking State of Wu Site, Confucius Temple,Zhanlu Terrace and Tiger Gutter,etc.

 

 

 Confucious

 Confucious Remarked the World is under the Feet of Mt Taishan at this site

  

 Confucius’ Ascending Memorial Arch

 Confucious Overlooking State of Lu Site



Stone Inscriptions

Boasting over 2500 stone inscriptions left by emperors and renowned scholars since ancient times, Mt Taishan lives up to its name as “The No 1 Calligraphy Mountain” in China. These elegant and exquisite historical relics are of extremely high aesthetic value. Among them 1696 remain intact today. Dai Temple, one of the top three stele clusters in China, is home to over 300 stone steles and inscriptions.

Stretching over 60 m in length and 36 m in width, the Buddhism Jingang Scripture Stone Inscription is the earliest and largest stone inscription in China. Other notable masterpieces include The Lisi Stele which was composed after Emperor Qin Shihuang had united ancient China, Emperor Hanwudi’s Blank Stele, Zhangqian Stele, Ms Sun’s Stele of Jin Dynasty,ect.


Lisi stele, the number one stele in China, enjoys the longest history. It is over 2200 years old, among the remaining 10 characters, 7 are complete and 3 are obscure.

 

 

 Steles of Tang Dynasty in Daguan Peak

 the Buddhism Jingang Scripture Stone Inscription

 Mt Taishan is a world of Steles

 Copy of Lisi Stele(李斯碑)



Three Cultural Treasures of Mt Taishan

Taishan World Geopark has over 12000pieces of cultural relics pieces which fall into 17 categories and 30000 columns of ancient books of 1000 kinds.The three cultural relics treasures is Aquilaria Lions(沉香狮子), JadeTablet(温凉玉圭), Yellow Glaze Blue Print Gourd Ceramics(黄釉蓝花瓷葫芦), all are priceless treasures.

 

 Three Treasures of Taishan World Geopark:Aquilaria Lions

 Three Treasures of Taishan World Geopark: JadeTablet

 Yellow Glaze Blue Print Gourd Ceramics

 Three Treasures of Taishan World Geopark: JadeTablet



Ancient Architectures

Among the Top Three Ancient Architecture Clusters in China, Forbidden City has mountains (artificial mountains) but lacks forests, Confucius Temple(in Qubu City,Shangdong Province) has forests but lacks mountains, while Mt Taishan is blessed with forests and mountains meanwhile, and it is the king of all mountains in China.

This geopark shelters 2 mansions, 3 ancestral halls,5 temples, 5 Buddhism palaces, 6 heaven gates,7 towers,9 Miao(also means temple, but smaller in scale), 10 bridges, 15 memorial arches, 19 pavilions, 128 ancient relics and 29 ancient architecture clusters with floor area of 140000 m2. Besides, it also has the oldest great wall and stone tower, the highest Confucius temple, the biggest antique Tang Danasty style architecture clusters in China. 14 Taoism monasteries and 5 Buddhism temples are well-preserved here (lingyanTemple, PuzhaoTemple, Yuquan Temple and Shentong Temple).

Dai Temple(岱庙):
also known as Tai Miao, is a Taoism monastery as well as a site for emperors to perform the Fengshan ritual and the worship ceremony of God of Mountains. It is one of Top Ten Ancient Monasteries as well as the biggest and best preserved imperial palace-style architecture clusters in China. 405.7 m in length and 236.7 m in width, it covers an area of 96000 m2 and shelters over 160 rooms. Constructed during Han Dynasty (220BC-220AD), it was rebuilt in Tang dynasty and expanded in Song dynasty successively. Daimiao is bestowed with many cultural relics, 212 ancient trees and eight natural wonders. 

 

Dai Temple Memorial Arch(岱庙坊):It was built in 1672 during Qing dynasty, is a rare stone sculpture masterpiece featuring symmetrical layout and the most diversified relief patterns.

Zhengyang Gate(正阳门):the original Zhengyang Gate was constructed during Song Dynasty and ruined in mid 20th century. What we see today was built in 1985.

  

 East Hall of Emperor(东御座):Located in north of Han Cypress Yard, it is the exclusive haunt of emperors. In 1985, it is ratified as a precious cultural relic item. You can see the precious sandalwood furniture and Emperor Song Zhenzong’s stele inside.

 Yaocan Pavilion(遥参亭): Emperors of various dynasties all visit this site and carry out the brief worship ritual before they enter Dai Temple to continue the formal one.

 

Zhengyang Gate(正阳门): Two red doors are embedded with nails to highlight a magnificent atmosphere of Dai Temple. In ancient times, only the emperors are allowed to enter it. It measures 8.6 m in height, while the Wufenglou measures 11 m high and has 5 rooms and 24 columns. On each side of this gate, there are 21 steles.

Tang Cassia Yard(唐槐院): located in west part of Dai Temple, it contains a cassia tree which was planted in Tang dynasty (618-907). The orginal giant cassia tree died in 1952 and gives space for a younger cassia tree. A stele was built to praise this ancient tree during Qing dynasty.


Heavenly Blessing Hall(天贶殿): Covering an area of approximately 970 m2, it was built in 1009 during Song dynasty and is the main body of Dai Temple. One of the eye-catcher here is the giant fresco here:《泰山神启跸回銮图》which is over 3 m in height, 62 m in length, depicting the grand scene when the God of Mt Taishan patrols around Mt Taishan. It is divided into two parts. There are 675 figures in total, together with stones, forests, pavilions and palaces, constituting a eye-dazzling scene with outstanding layout. It is a masterpiece of Taoism. 

 

 Heavenly Blessing Hall(天贶殿)

 Grand Ceremony held in 2009 to celebrate the 1000 years old Heavenly Blessing Hall

  

 Glimpse of God of Mt Taishan Patrols Around Mt Taishan

 Delicate Scupltures

 

 Han Cypress Yard(汉柏院): Five cypress trees of Han Dynasty were planted in this yard, making it one of the eight famous sites of Tai’an city. Han Cypress Yard contains 90 steles, among them, 26 are composed by Emperor Qianlong.

Bronze Pavilion& Steel Tower(铜亭铁塔):
One both sides of Dai Templ lie two striking relics: Bronze Pavilion and Steel Tower. Bronze Pavilion was built in 1613AD; it measures 4.4 m in length and 3.4 m in width. This pavilion illustrates the outstanding smelting and refining technology in ancient China. Together with Xishanpo Bronze Pavilion in Mt Wanshoushan, Beijing, Mt Fengmingshan Bronze Pavilion in Kunming and Wudangshan Bronze Pavilion, they are Top Four Bronze Pavilions in China. Dai Temple shelters the precious Lisi Stele, the delicate and elegant Xiaozhuan characters were carved in the stone in 209AD. The stately Steel Tower in the west side of Dai Temple was built during Ming Dynasty. Originally, it has 13 floors, but unfortunately 10 floors were ruined during the war by the Japanese army.

The Great Wall of the State of Qi(齐长城): Starting from the east bank of Yellow River of Jinian city,Qi Great Wall snakes its way along the Taiqi mountain ranges, covering a distance of over 500km before it ends at East Sea in Qingdao city. It is the oldest great wall in China, and is the originating place of folklore Lady Mengjiangnv.

 

Climbing Mt Taishan is an indispensable part when explore this geopark. To ascend its zigzag path haunted by numerous emperors since thousands years ago is a pleasure by itself for mountain hikers, a pilgrim for Buddhists and Taoists, a shutcut to graspe the mysterious oriental culture for foreigners and a journey to embrace the glorious past for Chinese people. From the first emperor of China, Qin Shihuang,to the emperors of Qing Dynasty, Mt Taishan greeted them with graceful air consistently.Some people remarked that Mt Taishan is a history of emperors, and it makes senses. Compare the climbing of Mt Taishan to be music, then Zhongtian Gate is a turning pointing which distinguishes the rhythms: from Dai Temple to Zhongtian Gate, it is like a lyric music while from Zhongtian Gate to mountain top is like a symphony featuring ups and downs.

 

Eighteen Twistings(18盘):the glorious path loaded with legendaries of emperors, a trip of rhythmic beauty

 

 

Geological Scenic Sites

Comprising magnetized, metamorphic, sedimentary rock and an intrusive mass of various origins that were formed in the Archean Era 170-200 million years ago, this geopark is the oldest and most important example of the paleo-metamorphic system representative of the Cambrian Period in eastern China.

 

 

 

Gongbei Stone(拱北石)

Immortal Bridge(仙人桥) 

  

 Tianjingwan(天井湾)

  Peach Flower Valley(桃花峪)

  

Houshiwu Stone Forest (后石坞石林)

 Moon Spring(月亮泉)

  

 Yinyang Valley(阴阳谷)

 shanzi Cliff(Fan Cliff,扇子崖)

  

 Aolai Peak(傲徕峰)

Rocks of  Colorful Stone Stream(彩石溪)

 

 

Travel Tips

Best Travel Season: May to November

Best Season to Watch Sunrise: Autumn ( it is said the sunset is more appealing than sunrise in Dai Peak, and in sunny days, sometimes you can catch a glimpse of Yellow River)


Weather: Taishan World Geopark has distinctive four seasons. Summer here is cool, the average temperature of July is only 17℃. It is windy in Spring and sunny in Autumn, generally speaking,Spring and Autumn here are mild, with average temperature of 10℃. Winter here is cold, but it offers lots of opportunity to see the amazing sunrise, do visit it when it snows, for the scenery is magic at this time. In rainy days, you have bigger chance to see the breathtaking scene of “Sea of Clouds”. During the National Holiday, this geopark will be kind of crowded, but the cable cars will come to your rescue.

Transportation: tourists by air could take airplane at the nearest airport-Jinnan YaoQiang International Airport to Mt Taishan. There is bus to Taishan Hotel at the airport, The ticket price is RMB60.00/person.

 

Map of Mt Taishan

 

 

 

Main Scenic Sites of Taishan World Geopark(Mt Taishan)

 

Timetable of Sunrise here:Month月 Hour时 Minute分
Yuanyang Travel Tips
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