Fenghuang Ancient City

Lies in the south of the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Minorities Autonomous Prefecture, Fenghuang County (aka Phoenix County) is commonly known as Fenghuang Ancieng City. It is a treasure trove and pristine paradise in Hunan Province – is one of China's famous historical and cultural cities. It is known as the hometown of Shen Congwen (1902–1988), a distinguished writer, hailed as the father of modern Chinese pastoral. Covering an area of 1,751 square kilometers and sitting on the Tuojiang River, the county boasts 31 villages and townships embracing 370,000 inhabitants, of whom 62.5 per cent of the total population in the county are minority people. In 687 in the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907), a county named Weiyang was set up there. Since then the county has for long been the political, military, economic and cultural center of the Xiangxi region (west Hunan). The county's traditional layout, style and features took shape in the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1912) dynasties and have been well preserved. At present, the county has 68 historical buildings and 116 relics. It also has over 120 residences and 20 stone pavements with distinct Ming and Qing-dynasty characteristics. The Yellow Silk Bridge Castle, built during the Tang Dynasty, is one of the best-preserved stone castles in China. The meandering Xiangxi Border Wall, which was built during the Ming Dynasty, has been recognized as China's Southern Great Wall and has attracted world attraction. The corner buildings, former Wanming Pagoda, and Shawan Ancient Residential Quarters are all valuable historical buildings. The phoenix is emblematic of good luck in Chinese culture, and the county has turned out many influential personalities in the political, military and artistic arenas. The politician, philanthropist and educator Xiong Xiling (1867 – 1937), the past oralist Shen Congwen and the famous painter Huang Yongyu have brought national and even world fame to this outlying county.

As an ethnic group area, Phoenix County has kept intact its unique folklore. Its Hunan culture, glamorous local dialect, exquisite Miao costume and diverse eating habits have greatly fascinated tourists form home and abroad. The local Nuo Opera is regarded as a living fossil of Chinese opera. It is named after Nuo, a god who drives away pestilence. The county is also famous for its variety of handicrafts. The time-honored Miao minority’s wax painting or batik is still a favorite among art lovers.

Apart from this cultural heritage, Fenghuang County abounds with natural resources and captivating scenes. The Nanhua Mountain National Forest Park of 100 precious animals and plants. The 12-kilometer-long Qiliang Cave is characterized by seclusion, splendor and adventure. In recent years, local governments in the county and the whole autonomous prefecture have spared no effort in revamping a number of key cultural relics. They have turned the 4.3-kilometer-long stone pavement into a pedestrian street and cleared some disorderly and illegally built buildings.

The county has been striving to be inscribed on the World Heritage List of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in the near future.

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