Located on the southeastern coast of Fujian Province is China’s cleanest, on the coast nearest to Taiwan, most beautiful seaport island city Xiamen.
Historically, Xiamen has always played a central role as a trading port, but since its establishment as one of China’s first four Special Economic Zones in 1981, Xiamen has become a showcase of sorts for China’s opening to the outside world.
It is one of the few municipalities enjoying a provincial level of power in economic policy making.
In the last 10 years, Xiamen has increasingly focused on the cultivation of international trade, education, and tourism. It now has a vigorous economy and a fully modern infrastructure
The island is attractive to tourists for its beautiful parks, delicious seafood, exotic buildings and the blend of both local Chinese traditions and Taiwanese customs.
One of the prime tourist spots in Xiamen, Fujian Province is the Nanputuo Temple which can be found at the foot of the Wulaofeng Mountain or Mountain of Five Old Men.
Even non-Buddhist visitors will find the place very refreshing and relaxing.
Nanputuo temple was once called Puzhao Temple (Universal Grace Temple). It was first built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and was later destroyed in the warfare during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). During the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722), a naval general ordered it to be rebuilt into a Buddhist Temple and named it Nanputuo Temple.
The Nanputuo Temple is located at the foot of Wulaofeng Mountain (Mountain of Five Old Men) and facing the sea, the temple is deemed to be one of the must-go tourist places in Xiamen, Fujian Province.
Even tourists not interested in Buddhism will find the place a scenic area ideal for relaxing and being one with nature.
Covering an area of 30,000 square meters, the temple has four main buildings on the north-south axis. The buildings include Devajara Hall (the Hall of Heavenly Kings), Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), Dabei Hall (the Hall of Great Compassion) and a Pavilion built in 1936 in which Buddhist scriptures, Buddha images from Burma, ivory sculptures and other works of art are stored.
The Devajara Hall also called the Hall of Heavenly Kings (Tian Wang Dian) is the location of the statues of four ferocious Heavenly Kings. In the center of the hall stands a fat Buddha, Maitreya or Milefo. With a broad smile, bare chest and exposed paunch, Maitreya represents the Buddha of the future, also known as the Laughing Buddha.
Was built in 1921 and features the statues of the Trinity of the Three Ages (Sakyamuni, the Buddha of the Present; Kasyapa, the Buddha of the Past; and Maitreya, the Buddha of the Future), Avalokitesvara (Guanyin Bodhisattva, the Goddess of Mercy) and Avalokitesvara’s disciples
The Dabei Hall is an octagonal tower, which was rebuilt in 1928. Inside, four Statues of Avalokitesvara are enshrined on a lotus-flower base. The Bodhisattva with his arms crossed in front of his chest has 48 hands stretching out. Each hand features a miniature scared eye. Two banyans are planted on each side of the hall.
The Sutra-Keeping Pavilion was built in 1936 and houses thousands of Buddhist scriptures, Buddha images from Burma, ivory Sculptures, wood sculptures, bronze bells, incense burner and other works of art. One particular porcelain Avalokitesvara in the Pavilion is said to be very precious.
The many rooms flanking the main buildings include dormitories, libraries and study rooms for monks. Vegetarian food is also served in the temple. The dishes’ unique colors, fresh tastes and poetic names make them a must try for visitors.
Sunlight Rock is the island’s highest point with an altitude of 92.7 meters (304 feet). Although it may not be as towering as other high mountain peaks, it provides a definitely breathtaking sight when seen far afar.
The name comes from a sun-shaped formation in the granite. When the sun rises, the morning light illuminates the granite and the rocks are bathed with sunlight.
At the foot of Sunlight Rock stands the Memorial Hall of Zheng Chenggong, built in honor of the hero’s feats, which include expelling the Dutch colonists and re-occupying Taiwan. Wandering up the steep rock path, visitors will see many profound inscriptions left by poets, the oldest of which dates back to over 400 years. This is the main cultural sight on the hill.
Built in 1931 on the southside of Xiamen, Shuzhuang Garden was once a private villa. It became a garden park open to the public in 1955. It is divided into two parts-the Garden of Hiding the Sea (Canghaiyuan) and the Garden of Making-Up Hills (Bushanyuan). It was exquisitely designed to embody three important characteristics in gardening—hiding elements, borrowing from one’s surroundings, and combining movements.
As a complex of Chinese traditional gardens, Shuzhuang Gardens entices visitors so much that one cannot help but want to see inside.
This is a small town on the side of the bank facing north Xiamen Island. With both Gaoji Causeway and Xingji Causeway meeting there, Jimei becomes the sole gateway into Xiamen.
As one of the four major scenic spots in Xiamen, Jimei enjoys long-term fame for its tourist attractions like Turtle Garden, Returnees Garden and the former residence of Mr. Tan Kah-Kee.
Jimei is the hometown of Mr. Tan Kah-Kee, a famous overseas Chinese leader who devoted himself wholly to education. In this small hamlet, Mr. Tan built 12 different kinds of schools including Xiamen University, a science center, gymnasium, library, hospital, and a navigation club.
These facilities changed Jimei from a rural village into a sizeable town whose total student population of more than 100,000 exceeds that of the local residents.
The Turtle Garden, which lies in the southeast of Academic Village Jimei, was built by Mr. Tan during his lifetime and later was chosen as the gravesite of Mr. Tan. The Turtle Garden was his first project. After full deliberation and preparation, the construction of the Turtle Garden began in 1951 on the former site of “Turtle Head Palace” from which it got its present name. Mr. Tan was general designer as well as general engineer.
Xiamen’s 227 hectare 10,000 Rock Botanical Garden has more rocks than you can imagine. Millions of tourists and locals delight in the maze of picturesque paths winding between hills and past jumbled boulders like “Laughing Rock,” many of which bear the calligraphic inscriptions of the ancients. Tags along the trails give in Chinese and Latin the names and origins of the plants.
On the peak overlooking Xiamen University is a Military Museum, as well as the Buddhist nunnery that explains why centuries of Nanputuo monks have worn so many trails over the Five Old Men Mountains in search of enlightenment.
Zhong Shan Park
Built in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (Sun Zhongshan, in Mandarin). Zhong Shan Park (Sun Yat-sen Park) is home to a statue of the great man which bears the inscription, “The Great Democratic Revolutionary Pioneer Dr. Sun Yat-Sen.”
Due to the national drive of “Less Walls, See Green,” solid walls around all of Xiamen’s parks and institutions have been removed and have been replaced by ornate wrought iron fences and shrubbery. Entry to Zhongshan Park is also now free.
Zhongshan Park has a small zoo, rental paddleboats, and displays and performances from all over China.
Xinjie Protestant Church
China’s First Protestant Church Xinjie Protestant Church was built in 1848. Because of this it has named the nickname “Birthplace of Chinese Protestantism.”
Today, over 1,000 worshippers fill the church on Sunday mornings and afternoons. The basement bookstore is especially interesting. China now prints so many kinds of Bibles and Christian books, so cheaply, that some Chinese Christians from other Asian countries have come here to buy them.
Xinjie is also especially festive at Christmas. Many churches (and stores and restaurants) leave their Christmas trees and plastic Santas up all year round, and Christians and non-Christians alike enjoy the churches’ Christmas Eve concerts.
Huli Hill Fort
Found on the beach outside Xiamen University, is Huli Hill Fort and the famous Huli Hill coastal cannon which is possibly the largest cannon in the world.
The fort also lays claim to having been built out of a strange set of materials: sand, clay, camphor tree juice, lime, and glutinous rice.
It’s a collection of Exotic Stones and an exhibition of ancient weapons, including the 60-ton German Krupp.
Founded in 1896, this is the last of China’s over 100 coastal cannons, and the longest in the world-longer even than the cannon Napoleon abandoned in Moscow.