The history of Guangdong Province dates back to the Spring and Autumn period, more than 2,500 years ago.
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Situated in the Southeast China along the South China Sea, the Province has a curved coastal line of 3,368.1 kilometers and many estuaries and plus 1,649.5 kilometers around 759 islands dotted in the South China Sea. The Tropic of Cancer runs through the province, with tropical and subtropical climate, and summer is as long as six months. It is warm and rainy all the year round. The average temperature ranges from 19 to 26 degrees centigrade, and the annual rainfall ranges from 1,500 millimeters (mm) to 2,000 millimeters, and rainy season is from April to September. There are three crops a year. The Province boasts many ethnic groups, such as the Li, the Yao, the Miao, the Zhuang, the Hui, the Man, and the She. The main agriculture produce includes rice, sugar, silkworms, peanuts and fruits, and rubber. They are orange, banana, pineapple and litchi. Industries in the Province include foodstuff, textile, paper-making, machinery, electric appliance, petroleum, chemical and electric power, of which sugar and paper-making occupy an important position in the country. Transportation is very convenient and is easy access to any part of the country by air, rail or by highway and expressway and the rest of the world mainly by air. They are also many main cities. Examples of the cities are Shenzhen, Zhuhai and Santou, which are special economic zones designated by the State Council. Advanced transportation networks, well equipped hotels, stores and entertainment places and inviting natural scenes make the Province an ideal destination for tourists both at home and abroad. The prime tourist attractions in the Province are the following.
Castle-Like Building 城堡式建筑
In sharp contrast to the new houses plastered with light-coloured mosaics, these old castle-like buildings, of which There are more than 1,400, created a unique skyline unparalleled anywhere else in China. Many of these buildings are considered forgotten architectural gems. The buildings are the result of Western influences brought back by Chinese emigrants. The first castle-like building was built in the initial years of the Qing Dynasty. According to the local Kaiping annals, the Qing court designated the area as the county of Kaiping, meaning open and peaceful, in the year 1649. Originally squeezed in between three other counties, the establishment of Kaiping County did not bring peace to the local residents. Bandits haunted the area in the middle of the 17th century. One day, local resident Xu Longsuo’s wife was kidnapped. While preparing the ransom, Xu Yi, Xu Longsuo’s, got a message from his mother. In her message, she asked him to use the gold to build a castle to safeguard the community from the bandits. The same night, his mother committed suicide. Thus, Xu Yi built a castle to fulfill his mother’s wish. Although the castle no longer exists, Yalong Building, built in 1650, still stands. First built to protect the locals from the bandits, villagers later sought shelter in the building during floods. For generations, local villagers have taken good care of the Yalong Building. The earliest castle-like buildings were few in number to start with, since few people could afford to build such gigantic homes. Most castles were constructed in the early 20th century as contributions from overseas Chinese flowed into the town.
With 1,659 square kilometers Kaiping is home to 680,000 residents today, but some 490,000 overseas Chinese and 250,000 residents of Hong Kong and Macao claim to have ancestral roots in Kaiping. The earliest Chinese who went abroad in search of better life were mostly men. They dreamed of building a house, finding a wife and buying a piece of land. Many began to send money to their relatives in Kaiping in the early 1910s. This money also brought more bandits. Local residents had to organize and pool their money to build more giant buildings to guard against robbery as well as floods. Help also came from abroad, as overseas relatives contributed money or simply returned home to supervise the construction. Historical documents show that some Chinese emigrants hired overseas designers while others imported the most solid building materials of the time, such as reinforcing bars and cement, which were not produced in China at that time. All the castles share many of the same features: the thick grey walls, the rusty iron-made doors, the small and fully-defended windows and the shooting holes hidden in each side of the walls. The most interesting is the fact that the builders borrowed architectural motifs from overseas for the design of the castles. As a result, the castles display architectural styles from various European countries, such as the Islamic domed-arches popular in Turkey, the 16th-century gothic-styled roofs Seen in England, castle structures common in Germany and Roman domes from Italy. Many of the castle towers integrated Chinese and European styles into a harmonious unit. It is common to See European-flavoured arches surrounded by traditional Chinese archivolts like dragons and fishes. In China, it is not difficult to find old European-style buildings, particularly in cities like Shanghai, Qingdao, Dalian and Xiamen, where foreigners secured their concessions. But no city can surpass Kaiping in the number of such eclectic buildings. Foreigners built most European-style building in other cities during the time China suffered humiliation by colonialists. But in Kaiping, Chinese built the castles. During its peak, the total number of constructions numbered from 3,000 to 5,000. Today, after decades of disuse and the effects of the damp and hot South China weather, some 1,400 castle-like buildings remain. Legendary stories are still told about the folk heroes who were protected by the castles during the War of Resistance Against Japan (1937-1945). Today, most of the families have moved out of the buildings for new houses that offer more comfort and convenience. But these buildings have drawn attention from both tourism companies and officials from the State Administration of the Cultural Heritage. There unique buildings (watchtower house) in Kaiping have both a high artistic value and an archaeological value. Blessed with both artistic charms and historic value, these watchtowers are treasures and our heritage from our ancestors. With the hope of getting the castles listed as the World Heritage Sites, the local government is now trying hard to restore and protect these surviving builings.
Foshan Ancestral Temple 佛山祖庙
Situated in Foshan city about 28 kilometers South of Guanzhou, the Ancestral Temple, first built in the period 1078 to 1085, is one of the famous ancient buildings in Guandong Province with a history of more than 900 years. Originally it was called the Ancestor’s Hall, for worshipping the ancestors by workers of the smelting trade. The original temple was ruined towards the end of the Yuan Dynasty and was rebuilt according to the original grandeur at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty and was rebuilt according to the original grandeur at the beginning of the Ming Dynasty. Because the Ming emperor Zhu Yuanzhang then worshipped Emperor Zhenwu, an imaginative God of Taoism, the temple was converted into a Taoist temple. Since 1949, it has been converted into Foshan Municipal Museum and listed as one of the main cultural relics under the preservation by the provincial government. The temple has developed to its present scale through more than 20 times of renovations and expansions in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Encompassing over 3,000 square meters, it comprises five parts: the rear hall, the main hall, the front hall, the Jinxiang (splendid fragrance) Pond and the opera stage. The entire structure is characteristic of being compact and simple yet imposing in its outlook. Not a single nail was used in the entire construction. The upper part of the temple is completely supported by the interlocking bracelets, in the shape of dove-tail, swallow-tail and the like, the construction being the unique architectural style typical in ancient China. All the bracelets are made of ferrous mesua, a hard-quality wood native to Guangdong Province and are characterized by being ventilating, moisture-proof and capable of bearing heavy loads. Therefore, they have lasted for hundreds of years and still remain intact. The temple is roofed with the famous Shiwan coloured tiles, thus looking all the more magnificent and splendid. In fact, the whole temple is decorated with various kinds of sculptures such as pottery figurines, wood-carvings, brick-carvings, stone-carvings, lime-sculptures and iron and bronze casting. Altogether in the temple There are over 2,000 figurines of defferent shapes, depicting the tales and legends popular among the people. On the ridge of the main hall roof alone, 152 pottery figurines with various facial expressions are mounted. In addition a huge iron tripod, a large bronze tripod and a 2,500-kilogram bronze statue of the North God are Seen in the main hall. The 400-year-old opera stage in the southern part of the temple is said to be the oldest of its kind now in existence in the province. Construction and artistic decorations of the temple fully reflect the industriousness and ingenuity of the labouring people in ancient China as well as the time-honoured culture and history of China.
Since 1949, on the basis of preserving the old structures, in the temple, a garden with pavilions, terraces, and verandas has been built and many trees planted in and around the temple, thus making it more like a park for both domestic and overseas tourists to spend their leisure hours.