Hancheng, An Ancient City of Heart-Touching Beauty
When talking about ancient city or rural town, the places arises in one’s mind are often Qingmuchuan Ancient Town and Yuanjiacun Village. Because they don’t know that in east of Shaanxi province there is an ancient city which are more worthy of visit, Hancheng.
Hancheng keeps the oldest and best preserved ancient city in Shaanxi province. The city enjoys a history of over 1500 years which is 800 years older than Lijiang City. The fast developing modern society has never submerged the traditional slow life of residents in the city.
That ancient city stands on bank of Yellow River and driving for about 2 hours one will arrive there from Xian City. Because of the relatively long distance from Xian, the city is not such much visited. But once one pays a visit to the city he will certainly fall in love with the authentic ancient city.
In the old city area there are 72 streets and lanes criss-cross in a dense network. The number of streets and lanes was decided as 72 because the Chinese philanthropist Confucius educated 72 well civilized students. The streets and lanes were built so in hope that the local residents could learn from sages of the past and carry forward traditional Chinese virtue. The main street stretches from south to north and it curves a little like spinal column of dragon. Local people regard the tower on platform to north end of the city as head of dragon, the Yuxiu Bridge to south end of the city as tail of dragon, and the lanes on both sides as dragon’s paw.
Hancheng City is the only ancient city in Shaanxi that may be defined as the World Cultural Heritage. Some architectural scholars believe essence of eastern architectural culture can be found in China and essence of Chinese folk dwelling architectural culture can be seen in Hancheng. As a local nursery rhyme says: City God lane and Chongyi Lane, all the 72 lanes indicate Chinese old customs; Tower is the head and the bridge is the tail, the dragon street has thick culture taste; In the north there is Longmen and in south there is Sima, in the middle there hides the mini Beijing.
Actually each Chinese city and town has a city god. Then what is the City God? In ancient time, City God is regarded as the city or the town master in underground world. He devotes to protect local residents and the city or the town from natural and man-made disaster. The City God Temple in Hancheng is completely preserved and it will introduce visitors to authentic Chinese culture about City God.
hancheng 2Hancheng Folk Culture Courtyard locates at the northeast of the old city area and consists of three courtyards, one ancestor memorial temple, and one theatrical stage. The cultural relics and the hundreds of clay sculptures on display in each courtyard represent the traditional life style of local people through which visitors could learn more about local culture.
Walking in the old city area one will find some unique shops spreading in some lanes. In these shops one could try local dishes, appreciate local artifacts, buy some local souvenirs and learn about technique of cloth waving.
Old city area is relatively small the attractions are not far from one to another. The wooden gates are full of ancient taste which will bring one back to the Ming and the Qing Dynasty. And in the old city area there hinds several completely preserved courtyards. Sangong Huiguan is a 300 years old courtyard. It takes flashed brick and gray tiles outside and observing the courtyard from inner side it just like a building in southern China. The wooden doors and windows with carved patterns, the walls bearing family precepts, the mini scenery created by various potted plant, and the special decorations make the courtyard a highlight of Hancheng City.
Jincheng Kezhan (a local style hotel) locates in Jincheng Avenue and in the hotel there are customer rooms, reception hall, reading room and bar. The hotel was established by enlarging the preserved courtyard. In this hotel visitors will appreciate the steady bricks, gorgeous tails, and delicate wooden artifacts.
Besides the visual banquet, Hancheng City also has quite a few local snacks worthy of trying. In the old city there is a food street where one would meet lots of delicious food. The representative ones are Yangrou Helao (Helao Noodles in mutton broth), Hubo, Hundun (a kind of boiled dumpling), Gumian (a kind of noodles), Hongtianmian (a kind of noodles), etc.
The ancient city opens all the day and both bus and train between Xian and Hancheng are available. Fangzhicheng Bus Station, Chengnan Bus Station, and Xian Bus Station all have scheduled bus to Hancheng. And in Xian Train Station there are several train to Hancheng every day.