Fuzhou (福州) is an old port city, Marco Polo visited it. In the 19th century, it exported more tea than any other Chinese port. Today, it is the provincial capital and administrative center, and also a major center for light industry. The capital of Fujian Province, is an ancient city with a history of more than 2,100 years.
The first city wall of Fuzhou was built in 202 BC when Liu Bang, the founding emperor of the Han Dynasty, gave permission to Wuzhu (无诸), the king of Minyue, to set up his capital in Fuzhou. The city was named Ye (冶), meaning “the beautiful”. The city name has changed many times, but the city itself has been continuously occupied since 202 BC and has never suffered major destruction by wars or natural disasters.
The city is on the Min River, a few km inland from the ocean. There are many mountains and waterfalls nearby, with sandy beaches in the coastal areas. Nike, Adidas, Reebok and others have factories here.
West Lake Park (西湖公园), (Walk over a causeway to this park on an island in West Lake, located right in the middle of Fuzhou). Attractive urban lake built in 282 AD in the center of Fuzhou has been a tourist attraction since the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Rent paddle or electric boats and explore the lake. Walk over the arching footbridge to to the Fuzhou Science Museum, a small but nice museum featuring dinosaurs. Or, walk around the lake itself, it is surrounded by sidewalks and a boardwalk. As of spring, 2012 they also have Pandas in an enclosure.
Wuyi Square (五一广场). A central square with a huge statue of Mao. Visit at dawn or dusk to watch the ceremonial raising or lowering of the flag by highly trained and immaculate soldiers. Or visit at 6AM-8AM or late on weekends to watch at least half a dozen of martial arts, both armed and unarmed, being practiced. The founder of Uechi-ryu karate, Uechi Kanbun, spent 13 years in Fuzhou, from 1897 to 1910. There are a group on the East side of the park who say their style is what he studied.
3 Lanes 7 Seven Alleys (三坊七巷) – Sanfang Qixiang, (a block West of Dong Jie Kou). This historic district in the heart of the city is one of the largest historic downtown areas in China, boasting about 268 ancient residences dating from Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911). The history of the houses is in the walls: the huge bricks are unknown in modern structures, and if you look at them closely, you will see tiny seashells embedded in them with sand that was collected from the beaches to make the bricks. Also characteristic of the district is the north-south orientation of the dividing walls, the green-gray tiled roofs, the white walls and the twisting, bluestone-paved laneways. Unlike other houses in China, which have a flexible layout, the homes are symmetrically built around a central north-south axis. Many of the residences in the area are private homes, so tourists need permission from the residents to enter them. Admission ~ RMB from free to 20 to 120
Gu Mountain (鼓山), (20 minutes bus ride from town). knowns as Drum Mountain, a Taoist temple houses nationally important archives written in monks’ blood as well as superb veggie restaurant. It is a 1,900 meter climb, or a 20 minutes cable car journey to the top, there are 500 inscriptions on the cliff face by literates of this time, which is rare in China. Gu means drum hill in Chinese.
Baiyun Mountain, (Near Gu Mountain). Less heavily trafficked than Gu Mountain. After the grueling top section, you will be rewarded by some genuinely beautiful hospitality and refreshing tea in a cave! Magic. Plus some great views over the city.
Wu Mountain (乌山). Overlooking the main square, a short walk to the hilltop which houses a pretty average temple. However, on the way up there is plenty of entertainment in the form of musicians and singers who congregate here to practice. The White Pagoda is also accessed by the same road behind Mao Tse Dong’s statue and worth a look. There are several very good arts and crafts shops at the base of the hill. Haggle for all you are worth to obtain good prices.
Qi Mountain (旗山). A ¥5 bus ride from Fuzhou plus the last stage in a tuktuk or private cab (which will cost you around ¥150 for a return trip) up the winding 17km road to the site. A forest park with big, waterfalls and stunning views over receding mountain ranges from a vertigo-inducing suspension bridge. All this and monkeys to feed.
Hualin Temple (华林寺), 78 Hualin Road, is a Buddhist temple in downtown Fuzhou, which currently functions as a small museum and no longer provides Buddhist services. Built in 964 AD and survived over 10 centuries, this is the oldest wood architecture extant in South China (south of Yangtze River). The temple has a typical Tang dynasty style with simplicity and elegance. Despite its great historic and architectural importance, the site is rarely visited, but it is truly a hidden treasure for serious lovers of ancient Chinese architecture.
Wu Ta (乌塔) (Black Pagoda) originally built in 799 AD, rebuilt in 936 AD
Bai Ta (白塔) (White Pagoda) originally built in 905 AD, 67 m in height, collapsed in 1534 AD, rebuilt in 1548 AD, 41 m in height
WHAT TO BUY? Fuzhou is the main industrial arts producing area of China. Cork pictures, jade, wood & stone carvings, bamboo and wooden furniture, fireworks, lacquer ware, horn combs, ivory earrings, porcelain, paper umbrellas, paper lanterns, shell carvings, golden and silver ornaments are popular. Three Treasures of Fuzhou:
- Lacquer – These products include decorative screens, vases, tea services, smoking sets and stationery etc.
- Stone Sculptures – Rocks from Mt. Shou are fashioned into seals, vases, stationery, characters, landscapes and flowers etc. “Tianhuang” is an especially rare type of Shoushan stone. The imperial seals of Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty were carved in Fuzhou. These priceless seals are now preserved in the Forbidden City Museum in Beijing.
- Cork Pictures – Cork is used to make hanging screens, folding screens and decorative articles depicting landscapes, characters, animals and birds.
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