China’s Heritage Appeal

By | Category: Travel destinations

Yunamingyuan

Yunamingyuan


China has visitor appeal on so many different levels. The culture and lifestyle is different, but above all the heritage is a draw. We might find an Anglo-Saxon hoard in Staffordshire with over a 1,000 jigsaw pieces of our history but imagine finding 20,000?
In the mountains of Zhongwei, the Chinese English language paper, Global Times, has reported that they have found 20,000 rock paintings in a six month survey of the area. The oldest ones date back to the stone age. That they found so many is not the staggering feature of the story since they expected to find about 10,000. That 80% of all China’s rock paintings have been damaged by humans or erosion is not really the story although this means that China could have one hundred thousand rock paintings where we get elated if we find a couple. This comes on top of finding yet more terracotta warriors a month or so ago. The story is that there is so much in China still to be found and seen.
From a much more modern age, the old summer palace (Yunamingyuan) is now being part restored. It had been destroyed in 1860 by the French and ourselves and since then only the 3.4 kilometre square parklands had been available for visitors. Then what was left was attacked again in 1900. Now the authorities have decided to restore some of it and visitors from now until the middle of October can watch as restorers work on the site. It will be like peeping through those mesh holes in the wooden hoardings that surround inner city building sites. The difference is how often can you watch and actually see the restoration work being done? Usually you only see the finished results. It will be like Channel 4’s Time Team but over 4 months. 200 items have been included in the exhibition but I think many visitors will be happy enough to stare at the work by the restorers. One feature that won’t be restored is the Grand Waterworks. Destroyed at the same time, spokeswoman Qian Qian has said that its destruction is part of Chinese history and thus, it will remain as it is.
In a matter over a few months, there have been two significant finds that adds to China’s heritage and a major restoration that can be watched by visitors as it progresses. No wonder tour operators are adding and changing the holidays that they offer us to try and maximise the amount visitors can see when they go there. The problem for the visitor is what you see this year could be eclipsed but something more stunning next year. What a problem to have! No wonder the number of us visiting China is on the rise.

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