The model of Old Jincheng on the ground floor of the Lanzhou Museum is fascinating, although only two structures survive – the Baiyuanguan temple and the Baiyisi. In the photograph, the Zhongshan Bridge is now where the pontoon bridge is on the model. The Baiyuanguan is just outside the city wall on the right.
There is an interesting map of the old city of Jincheng on the ground floor of the Lanzhou Museum (see separate review). Walking the route of the old walls – none have survived – is easy with this map.
With the closure of the Gansu Provincial Museum for a decade, one might have expected the best of its collections to be rehoused here in the Lanzhou Museum which is located alongside one of the two remaining old structures in Lanzhou, the Ming Dynasty Bayi temple. Sadly, this would be too much of a breakthrough in terms of joined-up thinking.
Despite this, the Lanzhou Museum is worth a visit. The ground floor has a nice model of old Lanzhou and a phtographic record of the city in Qing times, including the water wheels (although no explanation in English), but upstairs there is a small gallery showing mainly the neolithic cultures found in the area. There is a display panel in English and Chinese for each of them (Majjiajao, Banshan and Hecheng) but the individual labels are in English. As always there are no maps which might encourage visitors to go out and find the source of these old cultures.
The remaining rooms are devoted to the Yellow River Painted Stones and two rooms on calligraphy and painting, which are really all just showrooms.
A good way to spend half an hour or so, even if you don't really get to learn much - a sad reality at most Chinese musuems to be honest.
I cannot find out much information about this small temple and its associated stupa behind. The temple is long out of use, and is presently used as a hall exhibiting calligraphy and various forms of archives: the walls are whitewashed and although it is elegant, it is a pity that its religious nature has disappeared.
Behind the temple building is the towering pagoda, now terribly hemmed in by towerblocks, including one that is a shocking pink colour.
The museum buildings are described separately, but this complex is also home to the newly formed Lanzhou Cultural Heritage Bureau.
This is a wonderfully peaceful place, an ancient Taoist temple, still very much an active one with monks in residence. Although it lies at a busy junction, facing the Yellow River, silence seems to pervade this temple as soon as you set foot inside the gateway. The temple, like many in this part of China, is entered underneath a large opera stage. Currently, this structure and other buildings in the complex, are being restored, so it is a little difficult to get a feel for the scale of it. The carved stonework inside the gateway is impressive, and there are similar large circular carvings on the sides of several buildings inside the compound.
Although this temple is very old, it has been extensively renovated, and the Jade Emperor in the main Shrine Hall dates only from the year 2000. The Jade Emperor is the highest spirit in the heavens, and the master of all the emperors. To the right, in a recenly restored hall, are the three officials of heaven, water and earth, flanked by the sovereign Wenchang and the immortal known as Perfect Man Zi Yang. Although only created in 2004, they are very well executed, and a symbol of how well modern religious sculptures can be done in China.
With restoration being conducted in June 2006, it was notable that the wall restoration at several points was being conducted using very traditional techniques and materials, including missing plant matter into the plaster to increase adherence to the inner layers.
The monks at Baiyuanguan are particularly friendly and enjoy showing people around the temple. Also, in contrast to many Buddhist temples in China, the majority of the monks seemed to be young.
Along the Yellow River, a very common method of crossing the river was by using rafts made from the inflated skins of sheep or pigs. The legs and neck of the skin of the unfortunate animal are sewn up and inflated with air, then nine to twelve of them are tied together to form a raft. Some of them are attached underneath a basic wooden frame, but I have seen them being used without a frame.
To the west of Zhongshan Bridge, by the cable car building, it is possible to go for a ride on one of these rafts, although it is barely representative of the real thing, which is propelled by a man swimming half in the water, kicking with his legs. The river ride in Lanzhou, though, uses paddles. Still it is fun to watch, although it is worth remembering that this river is particularly heavily polluted and one of China’s largets oil and petrochemical complexes lies at the western end of town.
Just a few metres away there are rides in speedboats up and down the river. Probably a better bet from a health perspective.
For more than 500 years, from the 14th to the first years of the 20th Century, crossing the Yellow River was done either by boat or on one of a number of floating bridges. The best known floating bridge was known as the Zhenyuan Bridge, which spaned the river on a number of boats tied together and anchored against the dtrong flow of the Yellow River. But floodwaters in the late spring and the ice in the winter made it all a very cumbersome affair as the floods regularly destroyed the bridge, and the pontoons needed to be removed from the water before the river froze over.
In 1907, a German company built a steel frame bridge across the river at the location of the Zhenyuan Bridge and it was opened in 1909 to great acclaim as the first permanent bridge across the Yellow River. In 1942 it was renamed in honour of Dr Sun Yat-sen, father of modern China, and the bridge was reinforced in the mid 1950s.
By 1989, the bridge was just too fragile to be used by traffic and it was turned into a pedestrian bridge, as other cross-river bridges had been opened in the meantime.
It has, in a rather appropriate manner for such an industrial city, become the symbol of modern-day Lanzhou.
With Lanzhou getting a lot of landscaping and a lot of tidying up, the surrounds alongside the Yellow River are making a riverside walk quite a nice prospect, even if you are harrassed around the Zhongshan Bridge by restaurant touts. Restaurant and business touts are doing great damage to China's tourism as they are persistent and aggressive. It's quite amazing how many foreign tourists mention this as their number one complaint.
The authorities in Lanzhou are slowly moving towards creating a linear park along the Yelow River, and already it is moreorless complete, and you cna wander long distances under the shade of trees and pergolas along the banks of the river. At several points, cafes and restaurants have set up lower down on the actual banks of the river, and with a breeze blowing it is a great place to sit for a while and just watch the muddy waters drift past.
A visitor centre is under construction, and the Lanzhou Tourism Bureau is busy collecting water wheel-related technology, artefacts and documentation from around the world. A small building will explain the geology of the Yellow River (it will open in early 2006) and there will be a sculpture park in the park, and there is a space for live shows and exhibitions. The authorities plan to construct the largest ever water-wheel at some stage in the future. Why? Because this is China, and having the world's largest is important .
In several parts of the park, human-powered waterwheels are installed to exercise your muscles, and there are plenty of places to paddle when the weather gets too hot, although it is wise to remember that the water comes out of the Yellow River downstream of significant industrial areas.
The park is an excellent example of how heritage can be shown, explained and brought to life, and is particularly recommended for those with children. If you read Chinese, there are a series of display panels on the "clenching bridge" to the east of the main entrance, but the photographs and diagrams are self-explanatory. The entrance fee is RMB10 and it gets busy at the weekends; there have been 250,000 visitors in the 2 1/2 months since the park opened in August 2005.
Water wheels are to Lanzhou and Gansu what windmills are to Amsterdam and the Netherlands. In 1556, a crusty old general, Duan Xu, having retired in the sleepy provincial town of Lanzhou, perfected a design for a water-driven wheel that could raise water some 10 metres to irrigate the land around. He installed his prototype right outside the city walls of Lanzhou.
Five hundred years later there were 250 water wheels along the banks of the Yellow River throughout Gansu, bringing life to the fertile but dry plains, eight times as many water wheels as ever existed in Hamah in Syria. There, tourists flock to see the famous wheels, but in Gansu, the wheels have turned alone, unloved and unobserved.
Today just three working wheels exist, at Xigu a western suburb of Lanzhou, in Baiyin municipality opposite Qingcheng town, and at Dingxi on the Wei river, south-east of Lanzhou; all three turn every day, watering the crops and providing water for the people of the area.
In Lanzhou, the city authorities have now created a riverside heritage park to celebrate and commemorate the humble water wheel. Twelve big wheels, faithful creations of the original Duan Xu wheel, and thirty smaller wheels are installed in this linear park alongside the fast-flowing Yellow River. The large wheels pull the water up, and the thirty smaller wheels operate all manner of grinding and milling equipment around the park.
Lan Zhou City God's Temple locate at Zhang Ye Road built in Song Dynasty what was built for sacrificing Ji Xin, Gen. in Han Dynasty. So it also called Ji Xin Temple. After rebuildint in Ming Dynasty, it renamed Cheng Huang Miao (City God's Temple). Unfortunately, It was bad destroyed by fire in Qing Dynasty, then rebuilt as today we can see. Total area of the temple is 12000 centiares and building area is 4000 centiareas. Three gates are martyry, and seconde gate is theater, hall of roll roof is at the north and double eaves main hall is at the back. Wing-rooms and bell and drum towers are at both sides. These years, it become to be developed as a curio market. It is very busy special in the Spring's Festival.
Bai Ta hill locate at northern of Yellow River in Lanzhou. For a white pagoda what is commemorate the Lama who went to call on the emperor Chengjisihan dies in Lanzhou, the hill began named Bai Ta (mean white pagoda).
The white pagoda we can see today was rebuilt by Liu Yongcheng who was manager of Gansu in Ming Dynesty in Jingtai term (A.D 1450-1456). After that, it was be extend built as a temple named Cien Temple in Qing Dynasty. The white pagoda is 7 floors and 8 flats, approximate 17 meters high, was built infrastructure at the substrate and green peak at the top. In addition, joss was caved on surface everywhere, and horse bells made by iron were hang under the corner of eaves.
In 1958, it was built Bai Ta Park on the hill, total area is more than 8000 centiares. There were coriaceous tambour, bronze bell and redbud tree called " Three Cimelia of Subjugating Hill", however, the redbud tree has died already. But crossing virescence in these many years, there are thickset trees on the hill, plus the Zhong Shan Bridge at the foot of the hill, this sight became to a must of travel in Lanzhou.
Lanzhou Zhong Shan Bridage is an old-line bridge in Lanzhou called "The First Bridge of Yellow River Under the Sun". Zhongshan Iron Bridage root in the 5th year of Ming Hong (A.D.1372) what was built as a float bridge in 7 miles west of Lanzhou made by Feng Sheng who is lord of Song. Until the 9th year of Ming Hong (A.D.1376), lord of Wei, Deng Yu move the float bridge to 10 mileswest of the city called Zhen Yuan Bridge. In the 18th year of Ming Hong (A.D.1385), Yang Lian who is commander of defence army move the bridge to where the bridge is locate today. It leaves three piles to this day that is 10 tons weight and 5.8 meters long.
In Guang Xu 33th year (A.D.1907) in Qing Dynasty, under the help supplied by Sheng Yun who is satrap of Gansu and suggested by Ying Jia who is Daopeng of Lan zhou, the Qing government spend fund 306,690 tael to built the Bridge with Germany Shang Tai Lai foreign firm. American Manboben and German Delo preside over the technique. The first bridge of Yellow River was built in 233.33 meters long and 7.5 meters extent, and was first called "Lanzhou Yellow River Bridge". In 1942, it was renamed Zhong Shan Bridge. Later, Lanzhou Republic Government had refit and reinforce it and built more five arciform girder in 1954 what make the bridge looks solid and durable, grandiose as today we see.
Lanzhou Mill Wheel garden locate at west part of Binhe Road is one of the most important sight in travel line of Binhe Road, which eastern is Zhong Shan Bridge, western is sculpture of Yellow River Mother and north to Baita Garden. Lanzhou Mill Wheel also called "Sky Wheel", "Tip Wheel", " Tiger Wheel " and so on root in Ming Dynasty. It is a kind of antiqueted implement for irrigating at past. This Mill Wheel was imitated by Lanzhou Goverment for reappearance. The Mill Wheel was built in 1994 what is made up of Waterwheel with double wheels, round weir, water grindery and Kursaal.
Yellow River Mother is a the most beautiful sculpture among the many works what experss the Chinese Nation and won a high praise and worth. It locate at south bank of Yellow River, middle part of Binhe Road and north of the Little West Lake.
The sculpture, created by sculptor Madam He E, is 6 meters long, 2.2 meters extent and 2.6 meters high that total weight are more than 40 tons. It's make up of Mother and a boy what respective indicate perseverant mother river feeding the Chinese Nation and son of Hua Xia (an ancient name for China) bringing up happy and healthy.