The Old Town of Lijiang is a world-famous tourist destination. It is a well-preserved ancient city filled with ethnic minorities, culture, and art. The Lijiang Old Town was originally founded in the late Song (960-1279) and Early Yuan (1279-1368) Dynasties. The Lijiang Old Town occupies an area of over 8 square kilometers. It is backed by the tree-covered Lion Mountain in the west, Elephant and Golden Row Mountains in the north, and fertile fields in the Southeast. The unique geographical location, history, and ethnic minority residents make Lijiang's Old Town a most special one. The Old Town of Lijiang was put on the list of the World's Relics by the World Cultural Heritage Commission of UNESCO.
The architectural styles of the buildings in the Lijiang Old Town are of great interest to visitors. They incorporate architectural traits of the Naxi, Bai, Tibet, and Han ethnic minority groups. The houses are placed close together along narrow lanes. The two storey houses are constructed of earth, tile, and timber and are created around an open courtyard much like Beijing's quadrangle. All of these ancient houses are covered with rich ornamentation which is usually emphasized on the windows, doors, and screen walls. The corridors and screen walls are usually decorated with marble, while the doors and windows are carved with various flowers, animals, and auspicious symbols. The pathways are paved with pebbles in different patterns. Each courtyard is used as a private garden where families take great pride in their rare and exotic flowers and plants.
The Old Town depends on water for its existence. The main water source for the town is the Black Dragon Pool. It splits into many canals which can be reached by every street in the town. The town features almost 350 bridges and willow trees grow everywhere due to the abundance of water.
The center of the Old Town and its cultural focal point is Square Street. The town's four main streets radiate from it in the four cardinal directions. Countless lanes and alleyways extend in all directions. The streets are paved with the local Bluestone. They have been polished by centuries of feet and hooves, but still, look like they were recently laid. Late at night, a sluice gate in the center of the town is opened and water rushes down the streets washing them streets in the town clean.
Old Town is a place that will not only capture your imagination but your heart. It is a magical place that time seems to have forgotten filled with an amazing culture, and warm people. It is a jewel in the crown of China that has remained unchanged for centuries.
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