Songpan Ancient Town
Chinese name: 松潘古城（Songpan Gucheng）
Location: Jin’an Town, Songpan County, Aba Tibetan and Qiang Prefecture, Sichuan Province, China
Opening time: 9:00-18:00
How to get there: In Chengdu Chadianzi Passenger Bus Station there are buses driving to Songpan County Passenger Bus Station directly.
Best time for visit: all year round
Recommended time for a visit: 2-3 hours
Introduction to Songpan Ancient Town
Situated about 200 miles from Chengdu, Songpan Ancient Town used to be a military base due to its advantageous location. As an ancient town, this place is rich in history and culture. Remains of ancient structures and battlefields can be seen in the ancient town. The city gates and city walls of the ancient town are still well-preserved despite being many centuries old. Historically, it was known as Songzhou Town and was considered the 'West Portal of Sichuan'. It has recently gained a reputation as one of the most interesting historical towns in Sichuan Province.
Dating back to Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), the city wall of Songpan Ancient Town was made of blue bricks locally fired. It is extremely tough, and 10 meters high, 30 meters wide and 6,200 meters long. The wall is one of the best ancient city wall relics in China. The tops of the East City Gate, the South City Gate and the North City Gate are all half-moon-shaped. The cornerstones of the gatehouses are enchased with unique anaglyphs and they still keep their ancient style and beauty now.
The Ancient City Wall
There are seven gates in Songpan Ancient Town. The East Gate is called Jinyang Gate (觐阳), the South Yanxun Gate (延熏), the West Weiyuan Gate (威远) and the North Zhenqiang Gate (镇羌). The gate that faces the southwest piedmont is named Small West Gate (小西门). There are still two gates in the outer city. The one that sits in the east side and faces the west is called Linjiang Gate (临江) and the other that sits in the south side and faces the north is called Fuqing Gate (阜清). Every city gate is decorated with an arch, made of huge hexahedron stones, bar-shaped and paralleled. Besides this hemicycle roof, there are all kinds of anaglyphs enchased in the cornerstones. They are all unique and enjoyable. The stone wall that stands on the bank of the river is carved with the notice of tax reduction and exemption in 1644, which is the 16th year of Empire Chong Zhen (1611–1644) of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644).
The gatehouse of the ancient city wall was first built in the 12th year of the reign title Hongwu (when the first Emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang (朱元璋) was in power) or 1379, and the same time for the combination of the Songzhou Wei (松州卫in Chinese, Wei is another name for county in ancient times) and Panzhou Wei (潘州卫) into Song pan Wei. The arch of the gate is 50 meters deep. It is so well-built that either wind or rain has not eroded or broken it after all these centuries. Tourists can enjoy a full sight of view of the surroundings on the top of the city wall.
Songpan Ancient Town is large in scale and magnificent in style. Its length, height, thickness and the exquisite anaglyphs and stone inscription are the best among all their kind.
What to see in Songpan Ancient Town
Situated in the southwest of town on a hill, which offers a good view of the town and surrounding mountains.
The West Gate
Opposite the horse trekking company, follow the stream toward the dam and take the track on the left. About 45 minutes walk. From there, you can continue in many different directions. In particular, there are paths leading to the foot of two 4000 meters summits.
Ancient City Wall
Songpan Ancient City Wall was built in Ming dynasty, when the blue brick used at that time is 50 cm long, 12 cm thick, each brick is up to 30 kg, and the mortar was made by glutinous rice, lime and tung oil boiling together, therefore the walls are unusually strong. The wall, 10 meters high, 30 meters wide, 6200 meters long and is one of the best ruins of ancient city walls in China. The top of three gates located in the east, south and north shaped like half moon, and the cornerstones were carved the various ingenious embossments, which are antique and still retain the ancient feeling.
The Ancient Battlefield Relics
Since the ancient times, Songpan had always been a town of border area of great military importance. Today, the passes, soldier stationary reclamation, beacon tower and other ancient battlefield along the Minjiang river valley and Fujiang river valley still can be seen everywhere.
Tongyuan Bridge is a semi-girder type covered wooden Bridge, during the rising tide period, swallowing large HongShuiChao rise time, leaf apricot blossom the ear, water bridge rotation, up and down bar with birds, constitute a picture of a peaceful and prosperous country.
Temple Bell of Temple of Great Mercy
It is said that the antique clock in the Temple of Great Mercy was made by a necromancer of immortal incarnation, when the necromancer finished and left, he told the temple monk: “after ten days I leave in the future you can ring the bell.” The temple monk didn’t understand his meaning, and on the day he left the monk rang the bell in the afternoon. At this moment, the necromancer only arrived to the snow mountain ridge, and he heard the bell and sighed "the bell can only be reached here!" It is said that if this is not the case, the bells of Temple of Great Mercy will be reached as far as the capital.
Chuanzhu Temple is located in the northern suburbs of Songpan County, 17 km away, which is the first town of northwest Sichuan plateau, is also a connection of Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Hongyuan, Zoige and other scenic areas. It is 337 km from Chengdu south, is 88 km north from Jiuzhaigou, 39 kilometers east of Huanglong, 43 kilometers west from prairie, is the must-see along the "Huanglong - Jiuzhaigou" golden tourism hotline.
The Red Army Long March Memorial Monument Park
Memorial Park is located in the Yuanbao Mountain, the east of Chuangzhu Town, starting in April 1988, finished on August 25, 1990, and the name of park was inscribed by Deng Xiaoping. The red army long march was a great feat in the history of mankind, the political bureau of the CPC central committee held several important meetings during the long march for 5 times, two of them were held within the territory of Songpan County, namely Shawo meeting and Mao’ergai meeting. Therefore, the red army long march memorial park was built here.
Going towards west out of Chuanzhu Temple to Gainitai, namely you are into the prairie. Here the vast pasture, paddock, and animal husbandry are very developed, forming a unique Sichuan northwest prairie nomad. Here belong to Amdo (Tibetan pastoral areas) Tibetan areas, in this magical land, covered with large and small solemn and mysterious temples, with many kind Buddhism true believers, full of strong atmosphere of Tibetan buddhist culture.
What to do in Songpan Ancient Town
Offered by several guest houses and agencies around town but are serviced by one horse trekking company. Treks can be from one day to as long as a week, and frequently visit Tibetan villages and famous mountains. Prices are usually around CNY200 a day, and include food and camping/village stay.
Starting at CNY260/per half day for the most popular route. Experienced routes are also available as well as options to tour Muni Valley by bicycle.
Guided treks to surrounding villages or mountain vistas.
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