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May 9, 2014

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Tianhou Palace, symbol of Shanghai's port city heritage, will rise once more

TIANHOU Palace in the Suzhou Creek area, a symbol of Shanghai’s heritage as a port city, is to be rebuilt as a tourist attraction, Zhabei District authorities said yesterday.

With a history dating back to 1884, the palace — also known as Mazu Temple — has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. It was first built during Qing Dynasty Emperor Guangxu’s reign (1875-1908) close to the Henan Road Bridge.

In the 1980s, the palace’s Tianfei Hall was moved to Fangta Park, Songjiang District, while in 2006 the original stage was dismantled.

The new development will cover an area about 2,666 square meters, and feature a new stage and special areas for prayer.

Tianhou — literally Goddess of Heaven — is also known as Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the sea, who is said to guide lost ships with her red lantern.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, merchants would visit the palace to pray to Mazu to keep their ships safe, while emissaries dispatched by the government during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) would pay their respects to her before setting off on overseas trips.

The palace was also known for its marketplace, where vendors would sell ligaotang, a medicinal pear syrup candy for which Shanghai was famous.

The redevelopment of the Suzhou Creek area, including Tianhou Palace, will take three years to complete, said Hong Mingming, director of the Zhabei Tourism Administration.

The entire site will span more than 3 square kilometers and will be served by tour buses.


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