Xingze Ancient City—a Gorgeous Pearl by the Grand Canal of the Sui and Tang Dynasties

Wandering alongside Tongji Canal in the tenth lunar month;

It is coated by trees and flowers in red, orange, yellow, and green.

This water transport engineering of the Sui Dynasty has connected the Yellow River and Huaihe River.

The wind wipes across the embankments and reaches for 500 kilometers.

Hit by frost, the flowers turn rosy red;

On the floating land, the reed flowers are dancing with the breeze, under the background of the white cloud.

The glistening water surface mirrors the sun and blue sky;

The dead water for millennium has become so clear and clean.

Tongji Canal, originally built in the Sui Dynasty, is the initial engineering of the Grand Canal of the Sui and Tang Dynasties. It has connected the Yellow River in Banzhu of Xingyang in Henan Province and Huanhe River in Xuyi County, Jiangsu Province, through Honggou Canal, Langdang Canal, and Suishui River. Stretching for 650 kilometers in total and flowing through six cities in three provinces, it is one of the great projects of the laboring people in ancient China.

The north-to-south Zhengzhou reach of Tongji Canal is laid in Huiji District. It stretches from the big dam by the Yellow River’s south bank, which is at the east of Dongsunzhuang Village (Guiniuzhuang Administrative Village), and ends at Fengshuo Bridge of Suoxu River, which starts from Fengshuo Bridge to the west and reaches the intersection of Xiangyunsi Village and Jialu River to the east. Tongji Canal serves as the main water channel connecting the civilizations of the Yellow River and Huanhe River. In the old days, it witnessed prosperous business and a number of stores on the two riverbanks. Songzhou had become a well-known metropolis during that period, and the extraordinary prosperity and boom also made it the Southern Capital of the Northern Song Dynasty.

The upper reach of Tongji Canal is located in Xingze Ancient City, a gorgeous pearl by the Grand Canal. This state-level historical and cultural town was founded near water and thrived on river. It was also the main battlefield of the Chu–Han Contention. This ancient city originated from the Spring and Autumn period, thrived in the Qin and Han Dynasties, won great reputation in the Sui and Tang Dynasties, and was reinvigorated in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. There is one World Cultural Heritage Site, three National Key Cultural Relics Protection Units, and five provincial-level culture relic protection sites in this region. Xishan Ancient City, the so-called first city of ancient China, Jixin Temple, which worships General Jixin of the Han Dynasty, Zhengzhou Guxing Han Dynasty Ironmaking Site, Zhengzhou reach of the Grand Canal’s Tongji Canal, City God Temple of Xingze County, initially built in the Ming Dynasty, are all the witnesses to the thriving and rich society of Xingze in the ancient and modern times.

Today’s Xingze Ancient City is the historical and cultural center of Zhengzhou, and thanks to the existence of Xingze (a pool formed by overflowing water from the Yellow River) in the bygone days, the civilization had taken shape since the Spring and Autumn period. According to Zuo Zhuan (The Commentary of Zuo), this region had been a paradise with lush forests for wild elks. It had been the battlefield of the struggle for hegemony between the State of Jin and the State of Chu. The Jin’s victory in the Battle of Chengpu (632 BC) confirmed the hegemony of Duke Wen, who realized his ambition and convened a large coalition of rulers at Jiantu, in the northeast of the ancient city. After the State of Jin had been divided into three parts, China entered the Warring States period, when independent warlords struggled for hegemony. While the Han State and Wei State were eager to divide this territory, State Yan from the north, State Qin from the West, and State Qi from the East all cast covetous eyes on this ancient city. The ancient Xingze once connected the Yellow River and Jishui River. The King Hui of Wei ordered to canalize the Honggou Canal for channeling water into Jishui River. After State Han conquered State Zheng, it built the capital in Xinzheng, occupying the core regions at the two riverbanks of the Yellow River. Then, Honggou Canal not only became the south-to-north channel of State Han, but also the cross-border waterway of the states at that time.

Under the leadership of the People’s Government of Zhengzhou, the People’s Government of Huiji District has carried out the following six culture protection heritage projects in order to deeply appreciate and inherit the history and culture.

1. Launch the Zhengzhou Canal Heritage Museum project. Zhengzhou Canal Heritage Museum is located at the former Jixin Temple with a land acquisition area of 96.18 mu. The project covers the construction of six main exhibition areas, which extend southward from the current situation of the museum, i.e., the Canal Culture Exhibition Area, the Folk Activities Exhibition Area, the Sacrificial Culture Exhibition Area, the City God Culture Exhibition Area, the Exhibition Area of Qin and Han Culture, and the Exhibition Area of Stone Carving Culture. The total construction area is 10,000 square meters with a total investment of RMB 98 million.

2. Launch the cultural heritage protection facilities construction project of the Grand Canal’s Tongji Canal reach in Xingyang Ancient City. Located at Guxing Town of Huiji District, Zhengzhou, the construction project mainly covers a newly-built science exhibition hall for exhibiting and popularizing the Grand Canal in the Jixin Temple, the stele gallery and the stele pavilion of Jixin Temple as well as related exhibition facilities of Xingyang Ancient City. The construction area of the project is 2,400 square meters and the investment totaling RMB 15.78 million will be covered by the central and city-level supporting funds. As an important part of the Zhengzhou Canal Heritage Museum, the project will be opened to the public for free after completion.

3. Launch the coastal node exhibition project of the Grand Canal’s Tongji Canal reach in Xingyang Ancient City. The Tongji Canal reach in Zhengzhou is an important part of the Grand Canal, which is a World Cultural Heritage Site. The project includes the construction of six Tang-style protection and exhibition pavilions on this reach so as to better display the World Cultural Heritage and beautify the local cultural environment. The project covers a total area of 2,312 square meters with the total construction area of 1,082.8 square meters, and it receives the investment totaling RMB 10 million from the municipal financial fund. The project started in October 2015 and has been completed.

4. Launch the exhibition system project of the Grand Canal’s Tongji Canal reach in Zhengzhou City. The project will improve the exhibition system of the Grand Canal along the 15-kilometer river course in the Zhengzhou reach of Tongji Canal. With the total investment of RMB 10 million, the project covers two exhibition areas, six exhibition nodes, 28 theme exhibition parks, and over 80 image display signs to increase the historical and cultural landscape along the river. The alternate implementation of this project and the above-mentioned coastal node exhibition pavilion project of the Tongji Canal reach of the Grand Canal in Zhengzhou will jointly promote local economic construction and land development, accelerate the development of the tourism industry in the surrounding areas and pull rapid economic growth.

5. Launch the Xingyang Ancient City protection project. Located at Guxing Town of Huiji District, Zhengzhou, Xingyang Ancient City is a national key cultural relics protection unit. In 2011 and 2013, two emergency repairs for the entire section of Xingyang Ancient City’s west city wall were carried out. The accumulative investment reached RMB 6 million. At present, a project to repair and protect the south city wall is in progress with a total investment of RMB 4.5 million and is funded by special funds from the central government. In 2015, the approval work of Xingyang Ancient City’s west city wall was completed. At present, the maintenance project of the south wall has been partially completed.

6. Launch display promotion project for Zhengzhou Guxing Han Dynasty Ironmaking Site Museum. The Zhengzhou Guxing Han Dynasty Ironmaking Site has a history of 2,000 years. It is the earliest, largest and best-preserved ironmaking site in the world. The museum, established on the basis of the site, is the only one of this kind in China. Now, according to the theme of the exhibition, taking smelting procedures as sequence and based on the real objects of cultural relics, the museum facilities, equipment and layout of cultural relics are upgraded and transformed. With the aid of suitable supporting exhibits and multimedia technology, it aims to objectively and truly reproduce the heyday of ironmaking in the Han Dynasty. The project has a total investment of RMB 10 million and is funded by special funds from the central government. At present, the design of layout renovation project for the Ironmaking Site Museum has been completed and the museum is under construction.

In the future, the Guxing Grand Canal Culture Area will become one of the four historical and cultural areas of Zhengzhou. It is an important carrier for Zhengzhou to build itself into the center for inheritance & innovation of Chinese civilization as well as an important name card to highlight and carry forward the history of Central Plains. It shows the profound cultural deposits of the earliest ancient city (capital) cluster, represented by Xingze Ancient City, for consecutive 5,300 years since the existence of the Xishan site, ,establishes a communication, inheritance and service system for the Chinese civilization, promotes the cross-border integration of industries and integrated development of industry and city, builds an “epic landmark of Chinese civilization and an world-renowned tourist destination” integrating cultural experience, humanistic vacation, hot spring and artistic life.

Copyright by Zhengzhou Municipal Tourism Administration