Binzhou

Binzhou (formerly known as Putai) sits on the north end of Shandong Province. It is the hometown of Sun- Tsu, author of The Art of War. Binzhou metropolitan area extends 9,600 sq. km or 3,700 sq. mi. The city’s population is 3.2 million including two districts, (Bincheng and Zhanhua Districts) and five surrounding counties, Huimin, Yangxin, Wudi, Boxing, and Zouping County. From Shandong’s capital city, Jinan, it is a two hour car ride. From Beijing, it is less than a two hour ride by high speed train. Zouping station of Binzhou is the first stop after Jinan by newly completed high speed train route, Jinan-Qingdao route. From Zouping of Binzhou to Qingdao, it is less than 90 minutes.

Binzhou City’s history dates back to the Shang Dynasty, when China’s recorded history started from 16th to 18th Century BC. We call that the Bronze Age. It is the period during which early settlement on farms replaced lifestyles of wandering nomads. Shandong’s history book provides insight on earlier development of land and people. Historical maps show that Binzhou was at the very center of the Shang Dynasty. It is no surprise that you will find brilliant collections at many of the local museums displaying astounding crafts made of bones, jade, ceramics, stone, wood shells and bronze excavated throughout Binzhou. History and culture lovers will not be let down.  After discovery of oil, the city, once a small township of Putai, has lived up to be a major industry hub for oil, rubber, and textiles.

Binzhou’s cultural highlights are concentrated in Huimin County. The Sun Tzu Cultural Park Museum is the city’s most important attraction. The park is designated to the life of world renowned Binzhou native, Sun Tzu, (545BC-470BC). His book, the Art of War can be found in almost all bookstores in the world. It is a required reading not only for military academies but also for business schools. The park is designed to be informative, educational, and entertaining. The park construction started in in 2002. Is initial phase occupies over 732,600m2 in total size. 15 clustered buildings are symmetrically built in Qin and Han Dynasty (220 BC-8 AD) architectural styles. The entire museum is 1 km long and 88 m wide. Each of the thirteen chapters of the Art of War is thoroughly illustrated in one designated building cluster. An armory and a memorial park commemorate distinguished military strategists. There is an exhibit that displays how an extended ladder was used in a battle to climb the castle walls more than 2,500 years ago. These ladders are a 1:1 ratio replica of the actual ladders. Live demonstrations are conducted during the travel seasons between April and Nov.

In one of the strategies, Sun Tzu says “Now a soldier’s spirit is keenest in the morning; by noonday it has begun to flag; and in the evening, his mind is bent only on returning to camp.” “A clever general, therefore; avoids an army when its spirit is keen, but attacks it when it is sluggish and inclined to return. This is the art of studying moods.” The wise sayings of Sun Tzu strike a very true sense to our lives.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VY1IQYyR0QA – The Art of War by Sun Tzu breakdown

Wuding Fu Official Residence used to be one of 10 prefectures in ancient Shandong. Its jurisdiction extended as far as what is known today as Jinan. “Fu” means residence. In the ancient days, it is a combined official administrative office, the court and the residence for county chancellors. Wuding in Chinese means, “Suppression with Arm”. It was named in celebration with 1462, the year in which one of the Ming Emperors executed his rebellious and greedy son to show off his deeds to safeguard social justice. The entire building complex served as the county’s town hall where local residents reported their issues there.

Wuding Fu is one of the best preserved county mansions in China with a documented history of 2,400 years. From displays inside, you will hear many stories about how social justice is practiced again and again by punishing criminals. This is a chance to peek into extremely well documented lives of Shandong people. Look out for a lady guide who has many inspiring stories of the mansion to share with you. Some of them are very personal first hand. One of the interesting facts is her father led a massive recovery and rescue mission to excavate the historical engraved stone tablet 45 years ago. Back then, he was the Museum Director. Thereafter, her brother was appointed Museum Director who will be retiring soon. Her family heritage is intertwined with Wuding Fu and her generation continues this heritage mission to preserve and to educate visitors. She has so many stories to be share. 

Wei’s Manor is a family residence built in 1891. It ranks among the top three in historical family manors in China. It is open to public as a museum.  It is also listed on China’s national historical registry.

Measured at 84m by 46m with its wall as high as 10m, this is the largest and the best preserved private family manor built in Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) that is open to public. It is a maze to fish through.   Numerous hidden pathways and shooting positions throughout the top wall were built for defense.  This was built when China was in turmoil, busy transitioning itself from imperial rules to republic. What is interesting about this mansion is that at the center of its main entrance stands a big tree 60 years of age. This tree has witnessed the rise and fall of the changes in the Wei family.

Pay attention to the daughter’s maiden chamber. In Shandong, girls before 17 years old were not allowed to see their partner until the wedding day. To reserve her privacy, food and water were lifted up into window of the restricted living quarters circled by thick walls. Peek through the tiny holes to see if you can capture a glimpse of their shadows.

Binzhou is a yet to be fully exposed treasure.  Hotels are very competitively priced.  Hot springs are abound.  Locals are eager to receive visitors.  Please put this into your next trip. 

 

山东省文化旅游厅 Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism

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