“The First of the Five Sacred Mountains”, Mt Taishan is held with high regard by the Chinese people. This mountain is known as a sacred place where the emperors offer sacrifices and conduct meditation during the Zhou Dynasty. Seventy-two emperors were recorded to have visited this mountain. The peak is at 1,545 m above the sea level. Because of the frequent visits of various royalties, several artifacts including literary poetry, paintings, and other cultural relics are found in the mountain.
Mt. Taishan is located at Taishan City of Shandong, China. The sacred mountain is said to influence sunrise, renewal, and birth. Pilgrims frequent this place for meditation over the years.
Visitors can also see an example of a fault block mountain. The broken faults are due to bedrock misalignment. These are visible on the mountain’s side creating astounding vistas. Natural bridges formed by the overlapping of large rocks are great examples of natural landscaping.
The Taishan temple is found at the mountain’s foot. The Azure Clouds Temple is at the mountain top. Both showcase magnificent architectural compositions made from wood, bricks, metal, and stone combination. The temples hold ancient stone tablets with inscriptions. The pathway connecting the 2 buildings offers great scenery and different views of the place. In addition, there are 22 temples, 11 gates, 14 kiosks, 14 archways, and 4 pavilions that are within reach.
For more scenery and less artifacts, a visitor can opt to follow the west route of the mountain.
The 7,000 steps from the South Heaven Gate give a feeling of nostalgia after reaching the tip of the mountain. Mt Taishan is a great tourist destination housing important monuments and artifacts. The caretakers of Mt. Taishan did a great job of preserving the history of their culture.
Mount Taishan is the most famous sacred mountain of China, with exceptional historic, cultural, aesthetic and scientific value. Settled by humans as early as the Neolithic (a Dawenkou site is nearby), the mountain has been worshipped continuously throughout the last three millennia. A large and impressive rock mass covering 25,000 ha and rising to 1,545 m above the surrounding plateau, Mount Taishan is considered one of the most beautiful scenic spots in China and was an important cradle of oriental East Asian culture since the earliest times. The mountain was an important object of the cult worship of mountains even before 219 BCE, when the Qin Emperor, Huang Di, paid tribute to the mountain in the Fengshan sacrifices to inform the gods of his success in unifying all of China. On the mountain there are 12 historically recorded imperial ceremonies in homage to Heaven and Earth, about 1,800 stone tablets and inscriptions, and 22 temples, which together make Mount Taishan the most important monument in China, a world-renowned treasure house of history and culture.
The key monument, the Temple to the God of Taishan, contains the Taoist masterpiece painting of 1,009 CE “The God of Taishan Making a Journey”. Inscriptions include the Han Dynasty stelae of Zhang Qian, Heng Fang and Madam Jin Sun; the Valley of Inscribed Buddhist Scriptures inscribed in the Northern Qi Dynasty; the Eulogium on Taishan by Tang Xuanzong, and the Parallel Stelae of the Tang Dynasty. There is also a number of ancient and significant trees, including six cypresses of the Han Dynasty planted 2,100 years ago; Sophora japonica of the Tang Dynasty planted 1,300 years ago, and the Guest-Greeting Pine and the Five-Bureaucrat Pine, both of which were planted some 500 years ago. All the architectural elements, paintings, in situ sculptures, stone inscriptions and ancient trees are integrated into the landscape of Mount Taishan.
Criterion (i): The landscape of Mount Taishan as one of the five sacred mountains in traditional China is a unique artistic achievement. The eleven gates, the fourteen archways, the fourteen kiosks and the four pavilions, which are scattered along the flight of 6,660 steps that rise between heaven and earth are not just simple architectural achievements, but are the final touches by human hands to the elements of a splendid natural site. Its very size places this scenic landscape, which has evolved over a period of 2,000 years, among the most grandiose human achievements of all time.
Criterion (ii): Mount Taishan, the most venerated of mountains in China, exerted for 2,000 years multiple and wide-ranging influence on the development of art. The Temple to the God of Taishan and the Azure Cloud Temple, dedicated to his daughter, the Goddess Laomu, were prototypes built on Mount Taishan and subsequently used as models during the imperial period, throughout all of China. The conceptual model of a mountain bearing the traces of man, where graceful structures – bridges, gateways or pavilions – contrast with somber pine forests or frightening rocky cliffs, could only have originated by referring to Mount Taishan.
Criterion (iii): Mount Taishan bears unique testimony to the lost civilizations of imperial China, most particularly in relation to their religions, arts and letters. For 2,000 years it was one of the principal places of worship where the emperor paid homage to Heaven and Earth in the Fengshan sacrifices, conducted by the Son of Heaven himself. Since the time of the Han Dynasty, it has been one of the five mountains symbolizing the Celestial Kingdom, in accordance with the Doctrine of the Five Elements, a fundamental premise in Chinese thought.
Criterion (iv): Mount Taishan is an outstanding example of a sacred mountain. The Palace of Heavenly Blessings (1,008 CE), located inside the Temple to the God of Taishan, is one of the three oldest palaces in China. The Azure Cloud Temple, also constructed under the Song Dynasty, is typical of a mountain architectural complex in the arrangement of its courtyards and buildings, and the Divine Rock Temple with its Thousand Buddhas Hall are outstanding and complete examples of great temples. Together they illustrate the cultural and religious aspects of the Tang and Song periods.
Criterion (v): The natural and cultural ensemble of Mount Taishan comprises a traditional human settlement in the form of a cult center dating from the Neolithic (Dawenkou) period, which has become an outstanding example of traditional culture under the impact of irreversible change wrought by increasing visitation and tourism.
Criterion (vi): Mount Taishan is directly and tangibly associated with events whose importance in universal history cannot be minimized. These include the emergence of Confucianism, the unification of China, and the appearance of writing and literature in China.
Criterion (vii): With nearly 3 billion years of natural evolution, Mount Taishan was formed through complicated geological and biological processes, which resulted in a gigantic rock mass covered with dense vegetation towering over the surrounding plateau. This dramatic and majestic mountain is an outstanding combination of a beautiful natural landscape dominated by the cultural impacts of thousands of years of human use.
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