There are so many UNESCO World Heritage Sites in China (41 to be exact) that I broke them up into two posts. To read part on, click here.
And now, where was I? Oh yeah, number…
22. Dazu Rock Carving in Chongqing: China doesn’t seem to have any shortage of monks carved on the side of the mountain. This place is home to Confucius, Taoist and Buddhist carvings which does make it a bit different from the rest. One major problem with these old sites is vandalism from the Cultural Revolution. Lucky for the Dazu carvings it was a remote spot which was closed for visitors for a long time so it escaped damage.
23.Mount Wuyi in Fujian Province: I guess the mountain isn’t so special here as much as the environment. The weather and the mountains keep the area moist and warm creating a special pocket for a diverse number of plants and animal species. In fact there are three animal species that are only located in the Wuyi mountains. Accomplished Winter 2016
24. Xidi and Hongcun in Anhui: Right nearby Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan) are these villages. Seen Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon? Hongcun is featured in the beginning of the movie as Michelle Yeoh’s hometown. Accomplished Summer 2011
25. Ming and Qing Dynasty Tombs and Mausoleums: This is one of the world heritage sites that is actually spread all over the place. They are in different provinces, different cities. There are a few near Beijing so if I go to one, I’ll consider this one accomplished. A little cheaty, I know, but to see all of them would take a colossal effort.
26. Longmen Grottoes in Luoyong: More statues carved in the side of the mountain by Buddhist monks. I can hear you sighing already. But I have actually seen these and they are pretty unique. Unfortunately many of these statues were defaced during the Cultural Revolution and many are missing their heads. Another interesting fact is if the whole head is missing, then it was looted and probably sold to a museum. But if the head was cracked, or smashed, then it was just destroyed. Accomplished Summer 2010
27. Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan Irrigation System in Sichuan Province: The mountain is famous for being an important Taoist mountain, but what sounds much more interesting is the irrigation system. It was one of those ancient engineering marvels in a “how did they do it with no electricity or equipment?!” kind of way. They were built 250 BC (before China was even a united country) to prevent an area from constant, dangerous flooding. The people were so grateful for the engineer in charge of the project they actually treated him like a god. It’s still in use today.
28. Yungang Grottoes in Shanxi Province: This is another Buddhist carving on the side of the mountain place, and one that is on my list of things to see this summer. I’ll let you know if it is as cool as it sounds. Edit: it was. Accomplished Summer 2011
29. The Three parallel Rivers of Yunnan: This is the meeting point of three big rivers. It doesn’t sound that exciting except for the fact that it creates a unique ecosystem which UNESCO says could be the most biologically diverse temperate region in the world. This is also right near Lijiang.
30. Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom in Jilin Province: This site is located right near the North Korean border, and is all that remains of an ancient civilization that died out thousands of years ago. There are thousands of tombs, all with painting representing life during that time, and some even look like pyramids 9so naturally it is called the oriental pyramids.)
31. Center of Macau: Macau isn’t part of a province but a ‘special administrative region’ similar to Washington D.C. in the US or Hong Kong here in China. That’s because China didn’t always own it. The Portuguese settled it in the 16th century and didn’t officially hand it over to China until 1999. Macau is now famous for casinos, but if you go to the center of Macau there are a ton of historic Portuguese style buildings which is something I’d like to see. Accomplished Winter 2012
32. Yin Xu in Henan Province: This is the location of ruins from the Shang dynasty, which ruled China over 3000 years ago. When archeologists were excavating this place, they found oracle bones which are considered the oldest examples of Chinese writing.
33. Sichuan Giant Panda Sanctuaries in Sichuan: When I went to Sichuan I went to the Giant Panda Breeding Station because it is close to the city and has a ton of adorable baby pandas. Sadly, the breeding station isn’t listed as one of UNESCO’s official sanctuaries so this is one I cannot count towards my goal. The UNESCO sanctuaries are places with thousands of acres for the panda’s to live, and also stations where people can come and look at panda’s up close.
34. Kaiping Diaolou in Guangzhou Province: Kaiping is a place, and Diaolou is a type of building that was made in Kaiping. They are multi-storied buildings that were made for watchtowers and lookout point. In the 1930’s there was 3,000 of these buildings, but now less than 2,000 remain. These buildings have an interesting architectural look to them. The area they are in, in southern China, is an area with a lot of emigration, and so European ideas, and architecture, filtered in. Accomplished Winter 2012
35. Karst Peaks in South China: These karsts are spread out into 3 different provinces in southern China so it covers a pretty wide area. I went to Gulin and Yangshou and got the experience the karsts up close, and even climbed a few. Accomplished Winter 2010
36. Tulou in Fujian Province: As a person who lives in a round house in America I am especially interested in these round houses, or rather, these round fortifications. The walls were built with a combination of stone, bamboo, wood and other building materials mixed with earth to make extremely thick walls. Not only are they windproof, earthquake-proof and well ventilated, but they made for some high security living quarters which nothing could get through. Accomplished Winter 2012
37. Mount Sanqingin Jiangxi Province: Another mountain. This one is one of the most sacred Taoist mountains in China.
38. Mt Wutai in Shanxi Province: This mountain is sacred to Buddhism and has some of the most important monasteries and temples. Actually, this mountain has some of the oldest wooden buildings in all of China, which is saying a lot of a country that is so old. We will be pretty close to this mountain this summer, but I’m not sure we’ll get a chance to climb it.
39. Shaolin Temple and other monuments in Dengfeng: This is one of the most recent additions to UNESCO sites in China and we were actually there when it was accepted by UNESCO and it was all over the news. Exciting times. Shaolin Temple is the most famous of course, but tucked away in the mountains are a number of other temples and academies of higher learning. Accomplished Summer 2010
40. Danxia Landforms of China -This is a formation of rocks spread out through 6 provinces including the one I live in, Zhejiang. It’s a special type of red sandstone cliffs that have been eroded away through time. While these landforms are all over and I’m sure I’ve seen a few, I went to the very famous one in Zhangye. Accomplished Summer 2015
41. The West Lake of Hangzhou: This was admitted by UNESCO this year. I wonder what took so long. Anyway, the West Lake is practically in my backyard and I’ve seen it many, many times. UNESCO says the gardening at the West Lake has influenced the garden design of not only the rest of China, but Japan and other countries around the world as well. You go West Lake. Accomplished September 2009
So, how am I doing on my goal to see every single UNESCO World Heritage Site in China? Out of 41 places I have seen….23 (updated Feb. 2016). More than halfway there!