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Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

Anhui (Chinese: 安徽; pinyin: Ānhuī; Wade-Giles: An-hui; Postal map spelling: Ngan-hui, Anhwei or An-hwei) is a province of the People's Republic of China.

Xīdì (Chinese: 西递; pinyin: Xidi, also Xi'di, or Xi Di, literally West Post), is a village in southern Anhui province (Yixian County), China.

Hongcun (宏村, pinyin: Hóngcūn) is a village in Yixian county, Anhui province (Yixian County), located near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan, China.

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Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun Location

Anhui is located in east China, across the basins of the Yangtze River and the Huaihe River. It borders Jiangsu to the east, Zhejiang to the southeast, Jiangxi to the south, Hubei to the southwest, Henan to the northwest, and Shandong for a tiny section in the north.

Anhui is quite diverse topographically. The north of the province is part of the North China Plain while the north-central areas are part of the Huai He River watershed. Both of these regions are very flat and densely populated. The land becomes more uneven further south, with the Dabie Mountains occupying much of southwestern Anhui and a series of hills and ranges cutting through southeastern Anhui. The Yangtze River finds its way through south Anhui in between these two mountainous regions. The highest peak in Anhui is Lotus Peak, part of the Huangshan Mountains in southeastern Anhui. It has an altitude of 1873 m.

Major rivers include the Huai He in the north and the Yangtze in the south. The largest lake is Lake Chaohu in the center of the province, with an area of about 800 km². The southeastern part of the province near the Yangtze River has many lakes as well.

Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun Attractions

Xidi

Xīdì (Chinese: 西递; pinyin: Xidi, also Xi'di, or Xi Di, literally West Post), is a village in southern Anhui province (Yixian County), China. It was declared a part of the "Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui" World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000, along with the village of Hongcun.


Gate in front of the town of Xidi.It was first built during the reign of emperor Huangyou during the Song Dynasty and was originally called Xichuan (West River), because of the water courses which flow through the village. The rise of the village was closely tied to the fortunes of the Hu family. Members of this family began to act as merchants in 1465, which gave rise to the construction of major private buildings and public infrastructure. By the middle of the 17th century, the influence wielded by members of the Hu family expanded from commerce into politics. The prosperity of Xidi peaked in the 18th and 19th centuries, at which time the village comprised about 600 residences.

The street pattern of Xidi is dominated by a main road which runs in east-west direction and is flanked by two parallel streets. These major streets are joint by many narrow alley ways. Small open spaces are confined to areas immediately in front of the main public buildings, such as the Hall of Respect, the Hall of Reminiscence, and the Memorial Archway of the Governor.

Today, major attractions are 124 well preserved wooden residences from the Ming and Qing dynasties with beautiful carvings. Many of the residences are open to the public.

Hongcun

Hongcun village is arranged in the shape of an ox: a nearby hill (Leigang Hill) is interpreted as the head and two trees standing on it mark the horns. Four bridges across the Jiyin stream can be seen as the legs and the houses of the village form the body. Inside the "body", the Jiyin stream can be seen as the intestines and the lakes - such as the "South Lake" (Nanhu) - as the stomachs.

The architecture and carvings of the ca. 150 residences dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties are said to be among the best of its kind in China. One of the biggest of the residences open to visitors, Chenzhi Hall, also contains a small residence museum.

Together with Xidi it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Hongcun also was a location at which the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was shot. Since then, tourism has dramatically increased.

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More on Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun

Description of Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun at the World Heritage Listing

Ancient Villages in Southern Anhui – Xidi and Hongcun Photo Gallery

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