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China's Natural Garden - Huangyao

Published: 14 Apr 2009 17:56:57 PST
An ancient town of high historical, artistic and military value was well preserved thanks to its unique location.

 THE PAST COMES TO LIFE: A stone-slab-paved street in Huangyao takes visitors back to ancient times (DUAN WEI)

Huangyao, an ancient town with a history of almost 1,000 years, is located in southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Covering an area of 3.6 square km, it is 200 km away from the well-known tourist city Guilin. It was named Huangyao as Huang and Yao are major surnames of the residents of more than 600 families in the town.

Stone town

Surrounded by mountains, the town was very difficult to reach in the past and remains relatively inaccessible today. But the inconvenient transportation conditions also preserved the town's ancient houses and architecture.

The mountains surrounding the town are all stone mountains, which provided rich raw materials for the construction of stone houses, stone doors, stone bridges, stone temples and stone slab-covered streets in the town.

There are eight streets in the town, all of them paved with large, smooth stone slabs from nearby mountains. Local masons cut the stones into square stone slabs and used them to pave the streets without applying any bonding agent.

Rich in stone caves, pavilions, temples, bridges and ancient trees, the town features southern Chinese architecture, which merges perfectly with its surrounding environment, composing a beautiful landscape with complete harmony between man and nature.

All the houses in the town were built on mountain slopes, with 300 built during the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911) still well preserved.

Ordinary houses, built with gray tiles and stones, have two stories and a small yard. Grand houses with big yards used to belong to nobles and wealthy families, with exquisite carvings on pillars and tiles to demonstrate the owners' wealth and social status.

Three small rivers, spanned by bridges with exquisite designs, meander through Huangyao, delineating the delicacy of this ancient town.

Importance in commerce

Commercial development of Huangyao is attributed to its favorable geographical location. The town, with its access to developed cities like Wuzhou in Guangxi and Guangzhou in Guangdong Province by waterway, used to be a major commodity distribution center in the locality, attracting traders from many neighboring villages. The market in the town had shops to sell salt, sugar, matches, cloth and other daily necessities, as well as a performance stage and other entertainment facilities.

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