- China.org.cn, April 21, 2015
More than 10,000 years ago, there were human beings living and flourishing in Hunan. The province has abundant cultural relics, including more than 30 Paleolithic ruins and more than 900 Neolithic ruins. The earliest primitive rice cultivation from more than 12,000 years ago was discovered here, and the graves of the ancestors of the Chinese people, Emperor Yan Di and Emperor Shun Di, have also been found in Hunan Province. Hunan’s deep cultural heritage is also evidenced by the massive Shang Dynasty bronzeware unearthed in Ningxiang, the Western Han Dynasty tomb unearthed in Changsha’s Mawangdui, the inscribed bamboo tablets from the Three Kingdoms Period unearthed in Zoumalou, the inscribed Qin Dynasty bamboo tablets unearthed in Long Shan Liye, the ancient Southern Great Wall discovered in Fenghuang County and the Yuelu Academy of Classical Learning.
Xizhou Copper Pillar
- Location: Wangcun Town, Yongshun County, Hunan Province
Erected in AD 940 during the Five Dynasties Period, the Xizhou Copper Pillar (溪州铜柱) was erected to commemorate a peace pact made by the emperor of Chu, Ma Xifan and Peng Shichou, the prefectural governor of Xizhou. When Ma imposed excessive taxes in Hunan Province, Peng called for the local people to revolt. In the end, they divided up their territory and promised that they would never again attack each other.
The pillar stands four meters high, weighs 2,500 kilograms and is inscribed with more than 2,300 characters. The artifact has proven a crucial tool for studying the relationships between different parts of ancient China.
The best time to visit is between July and September, when there are many festivals.
Hours: all day long
Admission: 5 yuan per person
How to get there: bus from Fenghuang County
The Yueyang Tower is an ancient architectural treasure on the shores of Dongting Lake in the city of Yueyang in Hunan Province. It is known as one of the four famous Chinese towers. The other three are the Yellow Crane Tower in Hubei Province, the Penglai Pavilion in Shandong Province and the Tengwang Pavilion in Jiangxi Province.
The tower was first built around AD 220 during China's Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), when Lu Su, commander in chief of the forces of Wu, was sent to the area to fortify it and train a fleet there. The main tower is built completely of wood and has unique features in its flying eaves and helmet-shaped roofs. Visitors can enjoy a panoramic view of Dongting Lake from the top of the tower.
The Land of Peach Blossoms
The Land of Peach Blossoms, located 23 kilometers (14.29 miles) from the city of Changde, is a fairytale land described by Tao Yuanming (365-427), a famous poet of the Eastern Jin Dynasty (AD 316-420). The area, which has a history of more than 1,600 years and plays a role in many mysterious legends and folk tales, has now become a famous tourist site. It is home to beautiful mountains, groves of peach trees, open meadows and ancient temples. The Land of Peach Blossoms has nearly 100 sightseeing spots throughout four scenic areas: Taoxian Ridge, Taoyuan Mountain, Taohua Mountain and Qinren Village. Every year, a peach blossom festival that is one of the most important seasonal events in Hunan is held in the area.
Admission: Peak season (March-October): 75 yuan per person
Off season (November-February): 65 yuan per person
The Yuelu Academy is located on the western bank of the Xiangjiang River on the eastern side of Yuelu Mountain in Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. The academy was established in 976, the ninth year of the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279), under the reign of Emperor Kaibao. It was one of China's four most prestigious academies of the past 1,000 years. Renowned Confucian scholars Zhu Xi and Zhang Shi both lectured at the academy.
The academy has been a part of Hunan University since 1926 and is now a research center for the humanities, social sciences and Chinese studies.
Admission: 50 yuan per person
Mawangdui is an archaeological site located in Changsha, Hunan Province. The site consists of two small saddle-shaped hills set 20 meters apart and connected to each other underground.
Mawangdui contains the tombs of three people from the western Han Dynasty (202 BC–AD 220), including Marquis Li Cang, his wife and a man who is believed to have been their son. The site was excavated between 1972 and 1974.
Tombs No. 1 and No. 2 have both been sealed, and only tomb No. 3 is open to visitors. Most of the artifacts from Mawangdui are now on display at the Hunan Provincial Museum, which is free to visit.
Admission: 2 yuan per person
Fenghuang Ancient Town
Located on the western edge of Hunan Province next to Guizhou, Fenghuang Ancient Town, also known as Phoenix Ancient Town, is one of the most beautiful towns in China.
With a history of 1,300 years, the town features distinct residential buildings, elegant bridges plus several mysterious towers and pagodas. Upon entering the town, visitors can immediately get a sense of the area's mystery, elegance and primitive simplicity. When an early morning mist settles in around the bridges over the water and stilt houses, the area simply becomes a scene straight out of a traditional Chinese painting.
Visiting a Miao village is also a must when traveling in Fenghuang. Visitors will find a large array of silver ornaments, hand-dyed fabrics and unique local snacks for sale there.
Admission: 186 yuan per person