Kouan Diaohualou scenic area is located in the southwestern part of Gaogang District, Taizhou

Kouan Diaohualou scenic area is located in the southwestern part of Gaogang District, Taizhou. It is a national AAAA-level tourist attraction. It is located in a town with more than a thousand years of history. It is a well-known tourist attraction with many historical relics and traditional styles buildings. The scenic area covers a total of 88,000 square meters with magnificent scale, beautiful and pleasant environment, and elegant and exquisite buildings. The management mechanism of this scenic area is sound with a healthy and orderly operation. This scenic area has been awarded the Science Education Base of Jiangsu Province, the Advanced Group of Tourism System of Jiangsu Province, the Safe Scenic Area of Taizhou, the Role Model of Tourism Industry of Taizhou, the Landscaped Unit of Taizhou, the Popular Science Education Base of Taizhou and so on. It is also a social practice base for the young reports of Taizhou Evening News.

One Bridge: It is an old bridge built during the Qingyuan Dynasty, grand and imposing, like a beautiful picture. Two Streets: Chaixu Street and Qingyuan Street have over a thousand years’ history, and they are still prosperous. Three Temples: Fortune Temple, Temple of Guan Yu, and City God Temple are close, just one street from each other and they are culturally connected. Four Houses: Kouan Diaohualou was built during the Qianlong period of Qing Dynasty. The wood carving, brick carving, and stone craftsmanship in it are incredible, which were the classic carving art at that time with a good reputation as “the Greatest Building of Jiangzuo”. “Sun’s Si Fanglou” was built in the late Qing Dynasty. It is a perfect combination of Chinese and Western art with gorgeous and exquisite European columns, and now it is called the “Traditional Culture Enlightenment Hall”. “Jinshi Hall of Qi ” was built in the Ming Dynasty, solemn and grand. Now, it is called the “Hall of Chinese Wu Jinshi”, and it is the only pavilion in China which exhibits the culture of Wu Jinshi. Guozai Hang of Li Xinchang, it has the typical architecture of the Qing Dynasty, in which “businesses were carried out in the front of the building and people lived in the back”. It is the ancient commercial firm which has been best preserved in Taizhou. Moreover, now it is called the “Historical and Cultural Exhibition Hall of Gaogang”. Ma Family ‘s Stage. It is the origin of the Huai opera of Ma. The famous representative of the Huai opera of Ma are Ma Lintong and Ma Xiuying, the father and the daughter, used to perform on this stage. Gulou, was built in memory of the great general Yue Fei who fought against enemies from Jin at this place. The drums are sonorous, forceful and soul-stirring. The memorial arch inside the scenic area, the stone street and the “The Grand Mansion Gate” interact with each other. The lanterns, the shadows of the oars and the tourists are reflected in the clean river. The whole scene is like a painting called the “Riverside Scene at Qingming Festival” in Chaixu.

Kouan Diaohualou

Kouan Diaohualou is a Qing Dynasty private garden, covering an area of 7539 square meters. It is classic and fused the self-destiny of the ancients with time and tide with meticulous design. In the fourth year of Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1739 AD), Diaohualou (now it is the east side of Diaohualou) was first built by Yao who was a timber merchant of the southern regions of the Yangtze River. In the early years of the Republic of China, the building was own by Li Songru, a local Confucian merchant who operated the Yangtze River Shipping. Li built the west wing and Xianglou according to its initial style, expanding the garden which is outside the building, and this project had lasted three years. In 2002, the People’s Government of Jiangsu Province announced that Kouan Diaohualou is a provincial-level cultural relics protection unit. The pavilions, terraces and open halls in the garden are exquisite and graceful. The lofts, corridors, and houses in the shapes of boat regard the winding river as an ideal of design. Exquisite wood carvings named “Happiness as Immense as the Eastern Sea” and “Rhinos Staring at the Moon”, and vivid brick carvings named “a Lion Holding a Ball” and “Lyre-playing, Chess, Calligraphy and Painting”, and the stone carvings with profound meanings named “the Five Blessings have Descended upon the House” and “the Five Blessings Lead to Longevity”, these are the classic works of the art of carving at that time which are lyric and have lingering charm. The movies From Slavery to the Generals, Snow-free Winter, Sinfonia of Going East and other movies were shot in this scenic area.

Sun’s Si Fanglou(Traditional Culture Enlightenment Hall)

Sun’s Si Fanglou is located at No. 82, Qingyuan Street and was built in the late Qing Dynasty, with a floor space of 367 square meters and a building area of 405 square meters. Sun’s Si Fanglou is located in the west and faces the east with a square plane and is a two-story small building which can be entered through the east and the west. There is a small courtyard like a corridor between the two small buildings, which has a variety of carvings. European style iron fences are built around the corridor on the second floor and they are the products from the era of “Westernization Movement” of the Qing Dynasty. Sun’s Si Fanglou is the former residence of Sun Gongfu. Although Mr. Sun ran a department store to earn his living, he was enthusiastic about the public welfare. In 1926, he donated money to establish Kouan High School of Jiangsu Province. In 2010, this building had been listed as the municipal heritage conservation units and had been repaired. Now, it is called the “Traditional Culture Enlightenment Hall”. It has several halls including the private school hall, the Chinese traditional enlightenment education hall, the Chinese customs hall and the Chinese encyclopedia hall, particularly demonstrating the history of traditional culture and traditional private schools in order to promote the traditional Chinese culture and the good tradition of respecting teachers and their teaching.

Jinshi Hall of Qi (Hall of Chinese Wu Jinshi)

Jinshi Hall of Qi is located at No. 94, Qingyuan Street, Kouan Diaohualou scenic area, with a floor space of 1906 square meters and a building area of 1654 square meters. Jinshi Hall of Qi was built in the second year of Tianqian of the Ming Dynasty (1622 AD) by Qi Shiguang who was the Qi IX, after he had been a successful candidate in the highest imperial examinations. The hall is located in the north and faces to the south. The original hall was built in the Ming Dynasty. The gate hall, the hall, the open hall, the room, and the central room can be entered from the front and the back. There is a pair of wood niches with golden carving dragon written the “emperor’s commands” on them hanging on the ridge purlin of the open hall. In front of the door, there is an ancient box tree of over 400 years old. In 2010, this building had been listed as the municipal heritage conservation unit and had been repaired. It is called the “Hall of Chinese Wu Jinshi”, including seven halls which show the humanity of Qi, ancient weapons and strategies, and the knowledge of Wu Jinshi. It gives a comprehensive introduction to the history of the ancient military examinations, and reproduces the military examinations and other scenes.

Guozai Hang of Li Xinchang(Historical and Cultural Exhibition Hall)

Guozai Hang of Li Xinchang is located on the north side of Chaixu Road. It is one of the most well-preserved and biggest delivery agents. It is the historical evidence of business development and prosperity of Kouan district. Guozai Hang of Li Xinchang presents the style of residential buildings in the late Qing Dynasty. It is located in the north and faces to the south with a floor space of 1380 square meters and a building area of 1116 square meters. It is a typical representative of the commercial building before the Qing Dynasty, in which businesses were carried out in the front of the building and people lived in the back. Now it is called the “Historical and Cultural Exhibition Hall of Gaogang”, including eight halls which are the historical development hall, the commercial hall, the folk culture hall, the religious culture hall, the red culture call, the celebrities of Gaogang hall, the hall of the eight tourist attractions of Chaixu and the hall of Gaogang’s new look. It offers a comprehensive display of the historical evolution and characteristic culture.

City God Temple, Fortune Temple, and Temple of Guan Yu

It is located in the west of Qingyuan Street, Kouan Diaohualou scenic area. The City God Temple and Fortune Temple are closely linked, and they are only separated by a wall. To describe how close they are, the folks said “the two temples are just one step from each other”. These two temples were built in the second year of Xianping of the Northern Song Dynasty (999 AD). There are two buildings in this temple area. The one in the front of this area is a building, and the shape of its roof is like a mountain. And the front building is 3 Miankuo (Chinese unit of length) wide, 10 meters high, and 7.7 meters long. The one in the back is a large temple, which is 5 Miankuos wide (3 Miankuos in the east belong to the Fortune Temple, and 2 Miankuos in the west belong to the City God Temple). It was built on a platform which is 1.1 meters high and there are six rooms facing the south and the east on the west side. The City God Temple is a Taoist temple to offer sacrifices to the City God. The City God is “the guardian of the city, and the officer of hell”. Only the city which has prefectural government or above can build a City God Temple. The development of the City God Temple of Kouan is of great value to the historical research of Gaogang. In 1987, the City God Temple was listed as the heritage conservation unit of Taixing County. In 2010, the City God Temple had been listed as the municipal heritage conservation unit. The Temple of Guan Yu is also called the Wu Temple, which was built in the second year of Xianping of the Northern Song Dynasty (999 AD). It enshrines and worships a famous general of the ancient Shu Kingdom called Guan Yu. In 2010, the district committee and district government decided to repair the Temple of Guan Yu. The restored temple is located on the east side of the Xiangyang bridge, on the south side of Qingyuan street, with a floor space of 1207 square meters and a building area of 857 square meters, and a 2-story building with brick and wood structure. The width of this temple including the main buildings, rooms and the platform is a total of 22.

The Sculpture of Yue Fei on Qingyuan Square

The sculpture of Yue Fei is in the centre of the square. In the fourth year of Song Jianyan (1130 AD), Emperor Zhao Gou appointed Yue Fei as “the military commissioner” to fight against the Jin in the north of the Yangtze River. After Yue Fei arrived to Taizhou, the states of Cheng and Chu were occupied by the enemy. Emperor Zhao Gou commanded Yue Fei to protect Taizhou. However, Yue Fei replied that “it is better to protect Chaixu instead of Taizhou”. Then, his army left the Beitan village of the state of Cheng and camped outside the city of Chaixu. Soon afterwards, the army of Jin also camped in Nanba Bridge which was outside Taizhou and 14 li (li is a Chinese unit) away from the north of the city of Chaixu. Then there was a major battle, which was a great victory against the Jin in the historical record. Because of this history, the sculpture of this patriotic general was built in Chaixu.

Ma Family’s Stage

The temple of Guan Yu and Ma family’s stage were the hottest spots of Kouan in ancient times. Ma family is a theatrical troupe of early Huai opera, which was set up in the 26th year of the Republic of China (1937 AD). The troupe leader called Ma Lintong (1912-1952 AD) had a nickname called “Si Jiuzi”, and he was from Kouan, Gaogang of Taizhou. He was good at playing the role of a martial or literary old gentleman in Huai opera and became famous in this field in the 1930s. He has created the “freestyle of Ma” and his representative works include Yue Fei, and Yang Warrior. And he is the first director of Huai Guang Huai Troupe (predecessor of Shanghai Huai Opera Troupe). His daughter Ma Xiuying was also a famous Huai opera actress. The Ma family’s stage was used by Ma Lintong and his troupe when they came back to their hometown. Every Chinese New Year, or if there is a get-together or a temple fair, tourists keep coming here.

Gulou

According to legend, in the Southern Song Dynasty, when Yuefei was fighting against the Jin, his army camped in Chaixu (now it is called Kouan). His army built high walls and made big drums for checking the enemy’s situation, delivering information and training soldiers. Because of Yuefei’s legend, the “big drums of Chaixu” of Kouan gained this name and it is still famous until now.

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