Hunan's eight most famous towns and cities are all in Xiangxi, going to thesecities will make you feel like you've gained something.
Original article by 大湘西大湘西
Translated / Edited by WNIC (Ben Wilkinson)
The beauty and style of Xiangxi's ancient towns is enough to make people's hearts bleed, but have you heard of these places? Apparently, the eight most famous towns in Hunan are all in Xiangxi, going to five of these cities will make people feel like they've gained a new lease on life.
Laosi Cheng is situated in Si Cheng Cun, Ling Xi town, Zhouyong Shun county.Originally named Fushi Cheng, this city has around 800 years history as a client kingdom's administrative capital, also known as Si Cheng and LaosiCheng. During its period as an administrative region, Fushi Cheng was Xizhou's prosperous political, economic and cultural centre. According to the locals, Laosi Cheng was divided into two sections; inner Luocheng (inside the town walls), and outer Luocheng (outside the town walls)，with a cross-cross of densely populated streets and alleys, and thriving shops and businesses this town was recorded as "a city with three thousand households within the city and eight hundred outside." And "Wu Xi'sgiant town, a town spread out over 10,000 miles." The Qing dynasty poet Peng Shi Duo, exalted Fushi Cheng in one of his poems, describing the city's beauty and vivaciousness. Laosi Cheng is an old minority administrative capital, and is a living example of the development an old minority area's autonomous administrative system in China. As of 2015, the Yong Shun Laosi Cheng site has been accepted as a world cultural heritage site, and is also Hunan provinces only historical world heritage site.
Feng Huang old town
FengHuang was established during the reign of the Qing emperor Kang Xi in 1704, and is situated in the south-west of Hunan province's Xiangxi autonomous administrative area, and has been successively rated as one of China's "ten best travel destinations", and chosen as one of " New XiangXiao's eight landscapes", and has even been promoted on Japanese TV as a "world famous town", and has been rated by China's photography committee as "the most beautiful ancient town". In 2001, Feng Huang was designated as as a national historically famous town, and as one of China's historically significant cities and famous cultural cities, it is also rated as an AAAA grade scenic area and is one of Hunan's ten most famous cultural sites.
Biancheng Chadong, originally named Chadong is a town situated on the border of Huayuan county in the Xiangxi area. Literary master Shen Cong Wen's famous novel 'Border Town' paints a vivid picture of Chadong's beautiful, rustic scenery, Chadong's people's friendliness, and their simple lifestyle. This has brought lots of visitors from both within China and abroad and has helped to develop Biancheng Chadong's local tourism industry. In 2005, Chadong officially changed its name to Biancheng Chadong ('Biancheng' is Chinese for 'Border Town'). Chadong was established during the reign of Jia Qing in 1803, and was completely built out of limestone, creating sturdy and towering buildings. This town was built in front of Tai mountain, to the left of it is Jiu Long mountain, and to the right is Xiang Lu mountain, and to the front of the town is Ming mountain; thus, there is a town in the middle of mountains, and there are mountains around the town. Because this 'border town' is situated on the border of Hunan, Guizhou and Sichuan province, therefore, there is a saying that in Biancheng Chadongone can "step into three provinces at once".
Huangsiqiao old town
Huangsiqiao old town is situated 24 kilometers west of Feng Huang county, originally named Weiyang, Huangsiqiao was established during the reign of the Tang emperor Ruizong in 686CE, giving this town over 1300 years of history. During the reign of the Qing emperor Kang Xi in 1700 the royal court established the 'Feng Huang Zhi Kang Ting' area (modern day Feng Huang county) and the 'Yuan Yong harmony administrative office' in order to pacify the minority government. In 1794, there was the largest revolt of the Miao ethnic people in history, this result has also been mentioned by historians as the war which caused the Qing dynasty's decline, from then on, the Qing dynasty's authority started to decline. Huangsiqiao is situated by South China's Great Wall section, this area is also the historical site of wars between the Han and the Miao ethnicities. In October 1983, Huangsiqiao old town became a protected important cultural and historical relic site.
Qianzhou old town
Qianzhouold town is situated in jishou city, Xiangxi and is a town with over 4200 years of history. By the Xia and Shang dynasties （approx.2000BCE-1100BCE's) this place was already a thriving settlement for the aborigines, afterwards came the Ji people, followed by the Yao tribe, and then finally theMiao people (one of the ethnicities which still reside in the area). During theQin and Han dynasties, this area was an important commercial area and port, the courier stations running from the south to the north converged here making this area's river transport very developed, and in turn making this an economically developed area.
During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Qianzhou gradually became the Miao people's political, economical, military and cultural centre. During the ages, Qianzhou has been the primary old town out of Ciangxi's four famous old towns (Qianzhou, Fushi, Liye, Chadong). Qianzhou was described in Shen Cong Wen's famous work "Xiangxi", in this work he describes Qianzhou as "Although small, the stones of the buildings are all arranged neatly and are all pristine".
Qianzhou has also cultivated many famous names throughout the ages, such as the governor-general Yang Yue Wu who commanded forces against the eight power alliance, and the famous 20th century painter MaSi Jie to name just a couple.
Liye old town
Liyeold town, situated in the hinterland of Hunan province's Wuling mountain，under the jurisdiction of Xiangxi's Longshan county. Liye has an epically longhistory, having had inhabitants as far back as 6000 years ago. During the reign of Qing emperor Kang Xi, Liye started to construct roads and a port, and during the emperor Yong Zheng's reign Liye Tang was established which gradually became a market town.
According to Qin dynasty records, over two thousand years ago Liye was the administrative capital for Dongting lake's Qianling county. During the 32 years of the first emperor of China's reign, Qianling county had 55,534 households, with a total population of over 300,000 people (during the Qing dynasty, the whole of China only had an estimated population of around 20 million people, therefore the population of this county made up a total of 1/70 people in China during this period.) Liye is Longshan county's largest southern town. Liye old town is also the sight of "one of the most important archaeological findings of the 21st century", in 2002, bamboo scrolls dating back to the Qin dynasty were discovered at the site of the old town, there is now the saying that "The north has Xi'an's terracotta warriors, and the south has Liye's Qin scrolls". Liye is one of Hunan's ten most important cultural sites, and has also been rated, along with Laosi Cheng and Feng Huang as Xiangxi's tour.
Qianyang old town
Qianyang old town is situated in the west of Hunan province, in the middle of snowy mountains, and by the trunk of the Yuan river which flows to Hongjiang city,this is the birthplace of hybrid rice and is also the home to China's 'bingtang' (rock candy or sugar cube) orange, this town was also the place of exile for Tang dynasty's "poet emperor" Wang Chang Ling. Qianyang old town has over 2200 years of history, and is even one of the best preservers Ming and Qing dynasty towns in China.
With three sides of the town surrounded by water, and being situated on what was once the frontier of the Miao people's area, this place was an area of strategic importance, thus has obtained the title of the "gate to Yunnan and Guizhou" and "west Hunan's first old town. Qianyang is older than Yunnan's important archaeological city Lijiang by 1400 years, and is 900 years older than Feng Huang. Inside the old town, there is a cross-cross of old streets and alleyways and Ming and Qing dynasty buildings can be found everywhere.
Jiang Gushang Cheng
Hongjiang Gushang Cheng is situated by the Yuan river and Wu river's converging point and has a long history of around 3000 years. Hongjiang Gushang Cheng originates from the Spring and Autumn period (770-476BCE), and started taking shape as atown around the reign of Tang emperor Xuanzong (810-859CE). During the Ming and Qing dynasties, Hongjiang Gushang Cheng reached its age of prosperity. This town is southern Xiangxi's best preserved collection of ancient buildings. Hongjiang Gushang Cheng was well known for its distribution of tung oil, lumber, white wax and opium, and was the distribution centre for the surrounding five provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan and Sichuan. It was southern Xiangxi's economic, cultural and religious centre. It has been given the titles of "the pearl of Xiangxi", "little Nanjing", and "the metropolis of the south-west". Hongjiang Gushang Cheng's ancient buildings, can said to be south China's classic residential buildings, and the sight of the buildings is like seeing Ming, Qing and early 20th century China taken straight from a picture and put before your eyes. Hongjiang Gushang Cheng is an example of a town with early commercial development, and is also one of China's best preserved and richest towns. Somescholars say that this town is "Mainland China's bud of capitalism and living fossil. This town is a protected cultural and historical tourist site.