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History and Culture of Lanzhou

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, June 30, 2014
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History of more than 2,000 years

Lanzhou is a city with a long history. People began to take up residence there as early as 15,000 years ago, and around 5,000 years ago, the residents of Lanzhou created the "Majiayao Culture," which is based on colored pottery.

In the 33rd year of Qinshihuang's reign (214 BC), Yuzhong County was established as the earliest government administrative region to cover the current Lanzhou area. The city got its current name "Lanzhou" during the first year of Emperor Wen of Sui (581 AD); finally, in 1941, the city of Lanzhou was established.

Cultural relics

Lanzhou has a rich historical and cultural heritage embedded within a history of more than 5,000 years. The Jincheng (Gold City) built during the Western Han period (206 BC – 9 AD) at the current location of Lanzhou was hailed by history books as an "impenetrable city." Lanzhou was a strategic location on the Silk Road during the Sui (581-619 AD) and Tang (618-907 AD) dynasties, and an important market for trading tea and horses during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). The water wheel, invented by a local farmer named Duan Xu during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), greatly boosted the local agriculture by making better use of the water from the Yellow River.

The Zhongshan Bridge, an iron bridge built in the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) by German engineers, was the first permanent bridge to look over the Yellow River. It contributed to the Lanzhou-based Yellow River culture and embodied the unity of the Eastern and Western cultures.

As Lanzhou is located in an area where the Han from central China merge with ethnic groups from the northwest, different cultures have been in coexistence since ancient times. Here in the city, rafts, pontoons and water wheels represent Han culture, while mosques and religious education represent Muslim culture.

Historically important location Lanzhou has played an important role in many historical events both in ancient and modern China. It was a major fortress for the central empires in fending off the attacks from the Huns, among other ethnic groups. Additionally, on the Silk Road, Lanzhou linked the West with the central dynasties, serving as a bridge between both cultures.

Historical celebrities

Throughout history, many famous people have emerged in Lanzhou. Zhao Chongguo, native to Longxi (the present Tianshui) in the Western Han period, fought gallantly against the Hun invaders and guarded the country's frontier. "He showed interest in commanding the army since his youth, and knew about neighboring foreign countries. Xue Ju, born in the city during the late Sui Dynasty, was dissatisfied with the tyranny and decided to rise against it. He proclaimed himself emperor before being repressed. Zou Yinglong, an imperial supervisor, managed to impeach a corrupted official along with his son, despite life-threatening menace. His deed made him glorified in his hometown of Lanzhou. Yue Zhongqi, an army general from the mid-Qing Dynasty, achieved outstanding merits in counterinsurgency wars in Tibet and Qinghai provinces.

Unique geographic configuration

Lanzhou is the only provincial capital in China to have the Yellow River run through the city. The river extends 152 km in Lanzhou, cutting the city between the northern and southern parts. Along the drainage area of the Yellow River, there are valleys of different sizes dotted with basins. Lanzhou is particularly proud of the "Heavenly made Sand Palace," a Danxia landform scene on the north bank.

Unique ancient architecture

The mingling of different ethnic groups in Lanzhou is reflected in the local architecture, which features its own unique style that incorporates both the style of general Chinese architecture and those of ethnic groups.

Tulusi Office is a cluster of palace-style architecture from the Ming Dynasty with Tibetan-style decorations. Xiguan Mosque, built in Year 26 of Emperor Kangxi's reign (1687) during the Qing Dynasty, combines both Chinese and Islamic architecture styles. Shanzishi Church, built by British missionaries in the 28th year of Emperor Guangxu's reign (1902), is an embodiment of how local Lanzhou architecture style merges with western style.


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