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June 13, 2011

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Sights in Yinchuan

THE capital city was established more than 2,000 years ago, during the reign of Emperor Cheng of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220).

In 1038, Li Yuanhao set up the Western Xia State (1038-1227) and established the city as a major frontier fort. So formidable were the fortifications that they protected many historical sites, such as the ancient city wall and moat, mosques, Buddhist pagodas, and ancient Great Wall.

? Western Xia Mausoleums

The Western Xia Mausoleums, the ancient pyramid-like burial ground for the Xixia rulers, are among the largest-scale and best-preserved imperial mausoleums in China. They have been called the "pyramids of the Orient" and are on the same scale as the Ming Tombs in Beijing.

The burial grounds in the western suburbs of Yinchuan include nine emperors' mausoleums and more than 200 tombs of royal family members senior officials. These ancient people used to be one of the most powerful in China and eventually killed the great Genghis Khan of Mongolia.

Among them, Mausoleum No. 3, or Tailing, the mausoleum of the first emperor of the Western Xia regime Li Yuanhao, is the best-preserved and includes corner towers, watchtowers, pavilions, outer cities, inner cities and mausoleum terraces.

? Film city

Established in 1993 by well-known Chinese writer Zhang Xianliang, the Zhenbeipu Film City is famous for flicks depicting the landscape and culture of western China, such as the award-winning "Red Sorghum," "Wrangler," "Ballad of the Yellow River" and "The Old Man and the Dog."

The film city in the Zhenbei Castle 30km west of Yinchuan, preserves most of the film sets - some raw, rough, others desolate, wild.

The most fascinating are well-preserved sets from the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). All the Chairman Mao images, slogans, books are intact. Tables, chairs, banners and microphones used in "struggle sessions" are displayed, vividly recalling those turbulent times.

? Helan Mountain

Mt Helan, 46km from Yinchuan, is famous for its tens of thousands of cliff carvings, considered a wonder of ancient Chinese civilization. There are vivid depictions of daily life and human development since remote antiquity.

Created by nomads during the Warring States Period (476-221 BC) and the Western Xia State, the bold and vivid carvings depict religious activities, fertility rites, and scenes of hunting, grazing, wars and dances. There are portraits, totems and symbols of all kinds.

The sweep of the carvings, especially eye-catching depictions of myths and fertility symbols, are a treasure trove of art that combines thinking in images with abstract thought.


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