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Qibao Ancient Town

An Introduction to Qibao Ancient Town

If you want to escape the commotion of Shanghai there is a place you should not miss. That is the Qibao Ancient Town. Qibao Ancient Town located around 18 kilometers from downtown Shanghai is one of the oldest and most famous towns in Shanghai. It is a spiritual sanctuary, free from traffic jam, pollution, noise which now plagues most of the modern cities we live.

Qibao Ancient Town has a history spanning over one thousand years. The town was built in the Five Dynasties Period. It developed during the Song Dynasty and flourished during the Ming and Qing eras. In Chinese, ‘qibao’ means ‘seven treasures’, referring to an old story which originated in the area. Legend has it that there were seven precious things there – a gold lotus scripture written by a 10th century imperial concubine, a magic tree, a big bell, a golden cock, a Buddha, a jade chopstick and a jade axe. Only the lotus scripture and the bell have survived to this day.

Today the old town is about two square kilometers in size, and is intersected by two water lanes. Around these canals are many well-preserved houses, traditional gardens, temples, shops and restaurants which contribute to Qibao’s charm.

In the center of the Qibao Ancient Town is the old street, comprised of two sections, the southern and western lesser streets. The southern part is filled with traditional restaurants serving a variety of tasty snacks. The western streets are occupied by old shops selling arts and crafts, antiques and calligraphy works. In this part you will also see the Qibao Pharmaceutical stores dating back around 1,000 years, some fine tea houses and Shadow Play Opera theaters.

A must-see in this ancient town is the Qibao Temple. Dating from the period of Five Dynasties and Ten States (907-960) and largely renovated and extended during Ming Dynasty, the Temple is held in high regard by the local populace not only because it was said to contain the seven treasures but also for its splendid appearance and the great significance it has had in fostering the development of Qibao Town. The temple used to cover an area exceeding 40 mu (144 acres), excluding the surrounding rivers of 6 mu (22 acres) when it blossomed in Ming Dynasty. A revered monk named Jing used to study and interpret the scriptures here, something that was recorded in the inscriptions carved on the bronze bell. The temple was rebuilt in 2002 and now covers a total area of 43 mu (155 acres) and was opened to public in the following January. The new Qibao Temple, with its ingenious designs for both buildings and gardens, presents visitors with an insight of the unique architectural styles of Han and Tang Dynasty.

The small town is a good place to explore Shanghai's grand past. There is some other places worth a special mention here include Cricket Hall, a place to dream times gone by, Tianxiang Restaurant which serves authentic local cuisine, and Qibao Theater where you can enjoy many of the distinctive Shanghai Operas and much more.

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