Lijiang Old City Travel Guide
Lijiang Old City which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity.
Its architecture is noteworthy for the blending of elements from several cultures that have come together over many centuries. Lijiang Old City also possesses an ancient water-supply system of great complexity and ingenuity that still functions effectively today.
A Historic City of China in a Special Position
Lijiang Old City has a long history and displays simple, natural features, combining the charm of a water country and the beauty of a mountain town.
As an age-old ethnic minority Naxi city, it amalgamates the essence of the Han, Bai, Yi and Tibetan peoples, achievements in both the general layout and the construction work of urban architecture, at the same time retaining the characteristic style of the Naxi ethnic group.
In 1986, the Chinese government included it on the list of national-grade historic cultural city, thus ranking it among China´s famous cities.
A Beautiful Mountain-and-Water City of the Naxi People
Unlike any other royal capital in ancient China, Lijiang Old City was constructed entirely beyond the influence of the building standard that a royal city should be "nine li in perimeter and have three gates on each of the four sides and nine vertical and nine horizontal streets within the city-walls, with the main vertical street admitting nine carriages passing through simultaneously."
It has neither a neat road network nor awe-inspiring city-walls. The whole city is laid out within the natural barriers and limits formed of three mountains and a major river, from which three streams extend through the city and spread into a wide system carrying running water to every house. Streets and valleys form a vein-like network; and buildings are erected according to the tenate of the hills and rivers, varying in height and exciting interest.
The Common People´s Dwellings with Unique Features
The common people in Lijiang constructed their residences by a unique style in layout, structure and appearance, which was developed in the light of the specific conditions and traditional customs of their own and in the combination of these with the excellent traditions of ancient architecture in the Central Plains and dwelling construction of the Bai and Tibetan ethnic groups, with bold innovation made in the aspects of anti-seismism, sun-shading, storm resistance, ventilation and decoration.
The most striking of their characteristics is the plain, natural creativeness displayed in their adaptability to the tenate, clever, excogitation at disadvantages, and wonderful treatment by simple and crude means, which had exerted great influence upon the development of the Naxi ethnic group in a certain region for rather a long period. thus the Lijiang common people´s residences constitute a volume of important heritage in research into the history of Chinese architecture and culture.
A Crystallization of the Naxi Culture and Techniques
Lijiang Old City provides a typical example of the ancient cities with well-preserved appearance. Built on the hillsides of three mountains, it is combined with nature in an organic and integral unity. Tile-roofed houses are arranged closely side by side within the brace of green mounts, where the common people´s residences, simple in shape and elegant in decoration, draw wide attention as a crystallization of the Naxi culture and techniques.
Splendid Traditional Ethnic Culture
As an old city having flourished for more than 800 years, Lijiang furnishes the development of ethnic culture with excellent circumstances, in which the Naxi and other ethnic minorities living there have jointly created a glorious
Its streets and lanes, squares and archways, water system and bridges, dwelling decorations and country yard patterns, pillar couplets and inscribed horizontal boards, and various stone inscriptions are all penetrated with the cultural accomplishments and aesthetic tastes of the Naxi people, embody the contents, concepts and spirit of native ethnic religion, literature and art, and exhibit the deep and rich deposits of historical culture. In particular, the Dongba culture, Baisha murals and other traditional cultures and arts with abundant contents constitute a brilliant chapter of the history of mankind´s civilization.