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Wanning Bridge

The Wanning Bridge was built during the Yuan Dynasty in 1285. It is on the base point of the east-west axis line running through the old city. It has many other names such as Houmen Bridge. Haizi Bridge. Jinshui Bridge, Guan Bridge and Di Bridge. During the restoration work in 2000, six dragon-like stone-carved creatures, built to control flooding in ancient times, were accidentally excavated from under the bridge. Archaeological research found out that the stone animals were the historical remains from the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. During Yuan Dynasty, in building the capital, Guo Shoujing (1231-1316), a renowned astronomer and hydraulic engineer, built the 30-km-long Baifu Weir in northwest Beijing to divert the Baifu spring water to the city, and then channeled it, via the existing river course, into the Grand Canal. He also dug the 82km long waterway of Tonghui River to the city’s southeast. So the Wanning Bridge is the north terminal of the Tonghui River. Historical literature records: “After this, rich merchants from the Sichuan and Shaanxi Provinces and other states could arrive at the capital on boat.” And the boats going north along the Great Canal could pass the Wanning Bridge to arrive at the Jishuitan Dock.

The Wanning Bridge was made of wood in Yuan Dynasty. In Ming Dynasty, it became a single-arch stone bridge with white marble balustrades.

An ancient poem described the Bridge this way: “Bids are chirping beside the Jinshui Bridge, and willow catkins are flying at the foot of the Jade Spring Mountain. It’s a long way from the south to the north of the Yangtze River and the friend hasn’t returned, which made me feel so sad.” Another poem reads: “The god is indeed full of magic power — he turns the willows lining the Guan Bridge green overnight.” The two poems all mentioned the Wanning Bridge as Jinshui Bridge and Guan Bridge. In the Yuan Dynasty, various kinds of buildings, shops and boats were scattered along the Wanning Bridge, and the air was filled with fragrance of wines and the sweetness of dulcet music. There is a Zhu Zhici (a genre of Chinese poetry) in Qing Dynasty describing the beautiful landscape: “When enjoying the sight of the lotus outside the Di’an Gate, the miles-long green pond were decorated with the red lotus flowers; it seem as if I were sitting on a fragrant mansion, and I was intoxicated when a light rain falls.”

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