Jining is a city as well as one of 17 administrative regions in Shandong comprised of 12 counties and smaller cities in the southwest part of Shandong. The region is known for its brilliant cultural heritage and amazing landscapes. The gorgeous Weishan Lake is the largest in Shandong. Its vast wetlands, lush mountains, and fertile farm lands total to 1,100 sq km. It is home to approximate 8 million people. This blessed landscape has nurtured a world renowned philosopher and educator, Confucius. His saga laid the foundation for Chinese culture and its political system that still impacts the daily lives of Chinese people. Jining is a prime destination to observe and explore how the Confucius culture breeds and shapes daily lives of Chinese population.
Known as the holy land of Chinese Culture, it is also the hometown of China’s five saints of philosophy – Confucius, Mencius, Zengzi, Yanhui and Zisi. You will see how their extensive doctrines were preached and practiced as you tour and learn of Jining’s rich culture history. The Grand Canal of China that runs through Jining contributed to Jining’s commercial prosperity and brought in diverse lifestyles. The Weishan Lake wetland is home to hundreds of rare species of birds and wildlife. The Xinglong Cultural Park blends in astounding magnificence of Asia’s largest Buddhist Temples designed in contemporary architecture. The story behind it warrants a featured documentary by National Geographic. From local sagas of Mt. Liang and the Dongping Lake at Jining, the novel, the Outlaws of Water Margin was written. This is not only one of China’s top four nationally acclaimed literature marvels, but also the most popular and the first classic novel ever read by young adults who grew up in China. Do not forget Endless Colors, a world-class resort with shocking sceneries and an all-access pass to activities you would not believe even existed in China.
Qufu City is one of the must-sees in Shandong province, as the hometown of Confucius and his descendants. This was the capital of Lu Kingdom and hometown of Confucius. Confucius is China’s most famous teacher, philosopher and political theorist, and his ideas and teachings have greatly influenced the civilizations of East Asia. Qufu is a testament to the importance of Confucian thought, from imperial China and in our present day. The city has been visited many times by the leaders of East Asian governments, and also by two sitting US presidents – Richard Nixon and George W. Bush.
The main sights are within the city walls of ancient Qufu, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it will take a full day to explore. There is a choreographed closing ceremony at the gate, every evening. The Confucius Mansion, Confucius Temple, and the 2,500 year old Confucius family cemetery called the Confucius Forest are three holy places that is worth your time to gain deep insights into the life of this great philosopher and educator. Confucius was born in 551 B.C. He tirelessly advocates benevolent governance, education without discriminations, and most significantly the idea of social hierarchy which became the ultimate foundation. China’s social and political structure and ability were built on China’s social harmony that is achieved today.
The Confucius Temple began as Confucius’ simple three-room house, but it has been expanded greatly since his death in 479 BC. It has 9 courtyards, arranged on a central axis, and it is China’s largest imperial building complex after the Forbidden City in Beijing. It is peaceful and contemplative. In the downtown area outside, all buildings are required to be less tall than the main temple, which is 24.8 m high. Entry is free for teachers and also for Confucius family members – so for anyone with the surname ‘Kong’!
Next to the Confucius Temple is the Confucius Mansion – for centuries, the most sumptuous private residence in China, thanks to imperial sponsorship and the Kong clan’s rule and powers of taxation and execution over Qufu. Male heirs held the title of Duke Yan Sheng, from the Song dynasty until 1935. The Confucius Mansion hosts a local opera performance 6 times daily during the summer season.
About 2 km north of the downtown area, you can find the parklike Confucius Forest – beautiful in the autumn, with bright and fallen leaves. It covers 200 hectares. Confucius and more than 100,000 of his descendants have been buried here, for the past 2,000 years – a tradition that is still ongoing.
Qufu is an ideal destination for study tours of Chinese culture. It is only 2.5 hours away from Beijing and a little more than 3 hours away from Shanghai by high speed train. The city today is full of electric bicycles. Another way to get around, for tourists, is to take a relaxed ride in a horse carriage. If Shandong is where you can discover real China today, then Jining is a place for you to uncover what brings the Chinese people together as a nation.
山东省文化旅游厅 Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism
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Authorized agency for Shandong Provincial Department of Culture and Tourism in the U.S. (山东省文化旅游厅在美授权机构)
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