Major Sightseeing Attractions in Ningbo

Tianyi Pavilion(天一阁)

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Tianyi Pavilion, or Tianyige Library, stands on the bank of the Moon Lake. It is the oldest private library extant in China and has been made one of the key national heritage sites. For centuries it has been known as the "city of books in the South" for its enormous collection of rare ancient books and documents. It was built in 1561 in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Fan Qin, the owner of Tianyi Pavilion Library, was born in Yinxian County and lived during the reign of Emperor Jiajing. In 1532 when he was 27, Fan passed the highest imperial examination and earned the title of jinshi, a successful candidate in the imperial examination. After that he served as an official in many places of China. Later, being weary of politics, Fan Qin resigned as senior minister of the Ministry of Military Affairs and returned to his hometown. Having a liking for books, Fan collected rare books of various dynasties and contemporary anthologies. When he was to pass away, he left a testament disallowing his descendents to distribute the books and prohibiting the books from being taken out. Quan Zuwang, a historian of the Qing Dynasty, praised this practice by saying: for two hundred years the books are kept intact, here you see a collector unparalleled in China. 

Laowaitan (The Old Bund) (老外滩)

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Seated on the north bank of the Sanjiangkou, Laowaitan (the Old Bund) of Ningbo became one of the five open ports in 1844 (even 20 years earlier than the Bund in Shanghai) and has long been one of the busiest trading ports since the Tang and Song Dynasty. After 1992 the Old Bund became a tourist attraction as one of the few extant bunds in China with a history of over 100 years.

Back in the Tang Dynasty, Ningbo was one of the four major ports in China. It was where Monk Jianzhen started his journey to Japan. During the Southern Song Dynasty, as one of the three major official ports it was governed by special foreign trade government agencies. Despite the close-door policy by the Qing government, Ningbo managed to keep commercial links with Japan and Southeast Asian nations. China imported copper and silver from Japan and exported silk, cotton and porcelain to Japan via Ningbo. When a rigorous close-door policy was practiced by the early Qing government, Ningbo was the only port to preserve the exporting rights in the following 40 years, from 1644 to 1684.

Baoguo Temple(保国寺)

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Baoguo Temple, seated on Lingshan Mountain in Jiangbei District and 15 kilometers away from downtown Ningbo, is a thousand-year-old temple. The Grand Hall in the Temple is one of the oldest and best-preserved wooden structures in the region south to Yangtze River, invaluable to the nation’s architectural studies. The temple is surrounded with mountains, with Shiyan Peak on the right, Maan Mount on the left and backed up by Mao Mount. Therefore, it gives rise to a saying: Temple in mountains but where is the entrance? Yan Jing, head of the secretariat of the Ming Dynasty in the mid-16th century and a native of Ningbo, named it the First Mountain in the East. As historical records go, in the Guangwu reign of the Eastern Han Dynasty, Zhang Qifang, head of the secretariat, retired in this place after quitting officialdom. His hut was later turned into a temple and named Linshan Temple. It was later ruined, and then rebuilt, destroyed again in the Huichang Reign of the Tang Dynasty when Buddhism was denounced as heretic. In 880 of the Tang Dynasty when it was rebuilt, the temple was named Baoguo Temple by Xizong, the then Emperor of the Tang Dynasty. The existing Mahavira Hall was built in 1013, the 6th year of the Zhenzong Period of the Northern Song Dynasty. Numerous officials and personages and even emperors of different dynasties left their inscriptions in the temple when they visited it.         

Ancient County Town of Cicheng(慈城古县城)

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Cicheng is listed among the well- known historical and cultural towns in China. It is taken as the No.1 ancient county town and a town of ancient documents in South Yangtze Area. In 738, the Tang government set the county seat of Cixi in this place, hence the name of Cicheng. It is the most well-preserved millennial county in regions south of the Yangtze River. In the town there are abundant historic relics and the ancient architectural complex has been designated as the key cultural relics site under the state-level protection. The geographic and geomorphic conditions of Cicheng is distinctive and the environment beautiful. With a twin-chessboard layout, the town has been commended as “a representative of Chinese traditional county seats” by architectural experts. 

Cicheng, situated on the coast of the South China Sea and the bank of Yao River, is entitled as “Town with the Most Beautiful Environment”. Its history can be dated back to 473 B.C. Previously known as Gouyu and Gouzhang, it got the name of Cixi County in the 26th year of Kaiyuan Period of the Tang Dynasty. With a history of 2,400 years, Cicheng has developed a profound culture, represented by the ancient architectures including the ancient yamen (government office), Confucian temple, the examination hall in feudal China, Qing Taoist temple, Chenghuangmiao (the City God temple) and mansions of aristocratic families while there still remains an abundance of cultural relics and historical sites such as ancestral temples, memorial archways, ancient schools and academies, white walls and windows engraved with exquisite patterns. There are as many as 33 key cultural relics sites under the state-level, provincial-level, city-level and district-level protection and the architectural complex was enlisted as the key cultural relics site under state-level protection in 2006. At the same time, Cicheng has fertile soil which has produced a long list of eminent scholars including 519 jinshi (successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations) from the Tang Dynasty to the Qing Dynasty, thus gained its reputation of “a blessed land producing a galaxy of talents” while a large pool of personages have been fostered on this land such as Zhou Xinfang (a famous artist of Peking Opera), Ying Cangqi (a successful businessman), Feng Jicai (an excellent writer, painter and folk artist) in the modern times.  

The Moon Lake(月湖公园)

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The Moon Lake, or the Yuehu Lake, is located in the southwest corner of Ningbo city, which used to be called “West Lake” by locals. It is only a hundred steps away from Ningbo Railway Station. It is long and narrow with an area of 0.2 square kilometers. Its shape is randomly tortuous; the round places are like full moons while the curved places are like crescents. In the past there was a lake not far from east of the north lake called “Sun Lake (Rihu Lake)”. The names Ri (sun) and Yue (moon) of the two lakes are the result of decomposition of the Chinese character “Ming” in Mingzhou. Now the Sun Lake is gone, only the Moon Lake survives. The Moon Lake was dug by magistrate of Mao county Wang Junzhao in 636. In 1093, the chief of Mingzhou Prefecture Liu Shu organized large force to dredge the lake, plant pine trees and willows around the lake, and fill in earth to separate the lake into ten islets. During Shaoxing Period of the Southern Song Dynasty (1131-1162), prefecture chief Liu Cheng built pavilions, terraces and open halls, and planted flowers of all seasons on the islets, forming up excellent views of the ten islets: the east three islets are “Chrysanthemum Islet”, “Moon Island” and “Bamboo Islet”; the west three are “Lotus Islet”, “Snow Islet” and “Fume Islet”; the center four are “Fragrant Grass Islet”, “Willow Islet”, “Flower Islet” and “Bamboo Islet”. Then three dikes and seven bridges were built in Jiaoyou Period of the Song Dynasty and Wanli Period of the Ming Dynasty: Yanyue (crescent moon) Dike on the north of the lake, Guangsheng Dike in the center and Taohua (peach blossom) Dike on the South; the seven bridges are Mid-lake West Bridge between Flower Islet and Fume Islet, Mid-lake East Bridge between Flower Islet and Moon Island, Chongchong West Bridge between Willow Islet and Fume Islet, Chongchong East Bridge between Willow Islet and Chrysanthemum Islet, Rainbow Bridge between Snow Islet and Lotus Islet, Gunxiu Bridge between Lotus Islet and the north bank of the lake, and Siming Bridge between Chrysanthemum Islet and the north bank, part of which now have been rebuilt and turned to be roads.

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