Huangshan area is definitely a special place to visit. There are many tourist attractions that are worth dropping by before or after your visit to Huangshan, including Tunxi Ancient Street, the two UNESCO World Cultural Heritage sites - Hongcun & Xidi ancient villages, and the Tangyue Memorial Archways in Shexian County. See the sketch map below, Mount Huangshan and Nearby Attractions.
Tunxi Ancient Street
Tunxi, a city steep in history, is a great bonus destination for tourists visiting Huangshan. It is the major gateway to Huangshan. You could stay in Tunxi and get to Huangshan Scenic Area in about an hour. Tunxi has budget accommodations, restaurants and something interesting to offer. Don't miss visiting the restored part of the old town near the river (Tunxi Ancient Street), especially in the evening when the red lanterns light up and make for a festive atmosphere. Tunxi Ancient Street is one of China's best antique markets. Don't miss this opportunity or you will regret it when you don't see it elsewhere in China.
Deep and narrow, Tunxi Ancient Street was originally built in the Song dynasty. The street is paved with maroon flagstones with a total length of about 1,200 meters. The buildings here are in typical Hui style. Most of them are only three stories high, stone-based and brick-laid, decorated with gray tiles, exquisite wood carvings, white walls, and horse-head double eaves on the roofs.
Tunxi Ancient Street is lined up with antique shops, medicine shops, steelyard stores, teahouses, restaurants, and galleries. Many of these shops carry more than a hundred years of history. Nearly all the shops here sell traditional Chinese painting stationeries, where you can find the "Four Treasures of the Study". The shops, workshops and residences have continued to maintain the characteristics and operational layout of ancient stores such as "shop in the front and workshop or house in the back". These stores also continue to use the same methods of production, display, and operation as they did in ancient times. Here, you can appreciate traditional Chinese curios and handicrafts, such as brush calligraphy, ink painting, and woodcarving. Surround by many beautiful and elegant arts, Tunxi Ancient Street is like a simple and unadorned gallery. It is a paradise for tourists to buy souvenirs rich in Chinese culture at a comparatively lower price and is a must-see before or after hiking to Huangshan.
Hongcun Village - World Cultural Heritage
Hongcun is a village in Yixian County, located near the southwest slope of Mount Huangshan. It is elected one of China's top 10 charming villages and together with Xidi, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000. Morning mist, gray tiles, white walls, stone bridges, water lily ponds, and hills in the background, are all elements of traditional Chinese landscape painting, therefore Hongcun Village has always enjoyed the reputation as "a village in the Chinese painting". It is a place for artists and film directors. Hongcun was the fighting scene for the movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon", directed by Lee Ang and starring Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh, and Zhang Ziyi. At the 73rd Academy Awards, the film won Best Foreign Film and Best Cinematography. The scene of Hongcun might have come to your mind.
Hongcun, a wonderful village worth visiting after the majestic grandeur of Huangshan, was established in 1131. This well-preserved centuries-old village is unique. What's so special about Hongcun is that the village was designed by a feng shui master to resemble a cow, which represents a very unique architectural decision and cultural heritage. The tour guide will interpret which part of the village is the anatomical equivalent to the cow and you will need some imagination to link the two. For example, the two old trees at the entrance to the village represent the horns, the four stone bridges the legs, the ponds the stomach, etc.
Hongcun is also different from the other villages in the area in the respect that it has a very sophisticated water system. It is an amazing village where the water flows through the entire town for the use of each household. Water is the main feature in this village, with the two large ponds connected to a series of flowing streams that pass by every house, providing water for washing, cooking, and bathing.
Leisurely ramble around the village, chat with villagers, listen to the ancient stories, taste local delicacies, shop for antiques & artifacts, admire the old wisdom from poetry posted on the columns, Hui-style architecture, the exquisite woodcarving and stonework's workmanship and subtleties of "Feng Shui" arrangement. Moreover, for those who love to paint, bring your tools!
Xidi Village - World Cultural Heritage
Xidi is a very beautiful village in Anhui Province, which is an optimum place to see the old typical folk houses of the southern Anhui Province. Besides, you may explore the source of the ancient culture of this area in this ancient village.
Xidi Village is 8km away from the east of Yi County, 54km from Tunxi City, and 40km away from Huangshan beauty spot. It has over 900 years old and is segmented by over 40 old winding and narrow lanes which are paved by bluestones. The laneways and the overall arrangement of the architecture make a very good harmony in this village. If you stroll in the village, you will find historic folk houses, ancestral temples, halls, an academy of classical learning, archway, white walls and grey tiles, paned windows and projecting horse-head walls, flexural walls, stone benches, an old well, and stone slab bridge, etc. they still remain the style and features that the kinds of centuries ago.
From that moment when you step into this village, you can feel that artistic feeling touches every corner. On the marble doorframes, you will find flowers, birds, and beasts carved on; on the bricks, you will see the carved pavilions, kiosks, human figures, and the actor's lines. Additionally, you can also enjoy the woodcarvings, murals, gardens, and the bonsai exhibition by some villagers. And if you are careful enough, you will find the indoor arrangement of the houses is not so different from those of the other ancient villages or ancient cities which you have visited. Here the arrangements of old furniture and the lay of calligraphy and paintings in the houses still keep the feature of the Ming and Qing Dynasty (1368-1911AD).
Whenever you visit this ancient village, it will show you a charming pastoral scene, because this village is embraced by mountains, clear streams crooning through it, some fish ponds strew around it, and vast paddy fields place in front of it. In 2,000, this very quiet and peaceful village was listed as World Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Now, most architects, planners, sculptors, industrial artists, and painters are heading for Xidi as it provides them with an abundant source of inspiration. And shoals of visitors from home or abroad have been enthralled by this village.
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