Wuwei

Wuwei Travel Guide, Gansu

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Overview

Situated in the central part of Gansu, halfway between Lanzhou and Zhangye. In ancient times, Wuwei was called Liangzhou and was the eastern terminus of the Hexi Corridor. 

Now Wuwei is a quiet place with some attractive temples, a pleasant new town and some quite substantial remains of the old settlement. The town's single most famous object, the Han-dynasty Flying Horse of Wuwei , was discovered here in 1969 underneath the Leitai Si. The original is now housed in the Lanzhou Museum, but the symbol of the horse, depicted in full gallop and stepping on the back of a swallow, can be seen everywhere in Wuwei.

The most interesting part of the city is divided into four quadrants by the main north-south road (Bei Dajie and Nan Dajie) and the east-west road (Dong Dajie and Xi Dajie), with the centre of the city at the crossroads. 

Attractions

  • Confucian Temple

    Known as "Wenmiao" in Chinese, situated in the southeast of Wuwei City. The ancient complex was established in 1439 of the Ming Dynasty. The construction of the original temple took just two years but various extensions have been added over succeeding centuries.The complex covers an area of over 1,500 sqm and is the largest and best-preserved temple dedicated to Confucius in Gansu.

    The Confucian Temple occupies a central position in the complex and it is here that offerings are made in honor of Confucius. Other notable structures to be found here are the Dacheng Hall, Hastate Gate (Jimen), Lattice Gate(Lingxingmen), the Bridgeof the "Number One Scholar" (Zhuangyuan Bridge) and the Banchi Pool. These latter features are in the south side of the complex. To the north there is the Sutra pavilion and in the west is the Liangzhou Mansion that houses the Confucian Academy.

    The well-preserved and symmetrically aligned historic buildings together with the collection of stone steles and scriptures means that Confucian Temple possesses a very important position in the cultural heritage of the Chinese nation as a whole.

    Admission Fee: Y31
    Opening Hours: 08:00 to 17:00

  • Leitai Temple & Leitai Han Tomb

    The temple - The original location of the temple, built high up on impressive mud ramparts and surrounded by beautiful countryside, is unfortunately now losing its attraction as the whole area is being swamped by construction. Nevertheless, the temple remains a pleasantly calm, shady place inside its grounds; and underneath the site, through a separate entrance, you can enter the famous Han-dynasty tomb where the Flying Horse was discovered. There's not much to see - it's a series of very low passageways, with a mock-up of the tomb contents at the back - but the two-thousand-year-old brickwork is still in perfect condition and amazingly modern in appearance. It's worth looking into the two temple buildings outside, which are now used as studios by two local artists.

    The tomb - Wuwei used to be a strategic position on the famous Silk Road. In 1969 a farmer discovered a tomb dating from the Han Dynasty and which has become a main tourist attraction in the city. The tomb is situated in Leitai Park so called, as there was a Temple built to honor the Chinese God Leishen on the 10m high earth platform that was erected during the middle Ming Dynasty. The inscription on the tomb shows that it was constructed circa 186-219BC for an officer from Zhangye, another major town on the Silk Road.

    The tomb comprises 3 main chambers of brick construction placed one behind the other. Each room has a smaller annex on its sides. This has proved to be a very important find as the tomb contained some 230 outstanding relics of gold, silver, copper and jade as well as pottery. The funerary artifacts included 99 copper chariots complete with horses and soldiers.

    The most important piece was the Bronze Galloping Horse. Known in Chinese as "TongBen Ma", the horse is depicted in a full gallop supported on just one foot upon the back of a bird in flight,which may be seen in the Gansu Provincial History Museum.

    Admission Fee: CNY 50
    Opening Hours: 08:00 to 17:30
     

Getting there and away

Most travellers arrive by bus from Lanzhou or Zhangye. The station lies immediately to the south of the old city. For the town centre, come out of the station, turn left and left again, then walk due north for fifteen minutes until you reach the main crossroads. The train station is far away to the south; from here take a minibus into the centre for a couple of Ys.  

Moving on from Wuwei is probably easiest by bus . To Zhangye and Lanzhou there are frequent departures throughout the day. To destinations farther west, there is also a through-bus to Dunhuang. Finally, there's one daily bus to Xining in Qinghai Province. By train , Wuwei is served by all trains on the routes connecting Urumqi and the east. There is also a slow train to Zhongwei (in Ningxia). Try to buy outward tickets from a travel service to avoid long and potentially futile trips out to the train station.

Accommodation

Accommodation in Wuwei for foreigners is fairly scarce. The most convenient place for budget travellers arriving at the bus station is the new, smart Ya Ou (tel 0935/2213178; dorms up to Y30, rooms Y30-75), just a few minutes west of the bus station. The only problem is that it doesn't always take foreigners.

The other two possible hotels are not particularly keen on real budget travellers. The Liangzhou (tel 0935/2212450; Y30-200) on Dong Dajie, a couple of minutes east of the central crossroads, has quite nice doubles with 24-hour hot water and cheaper triples and doubles without private bath. To get into these cheaper rooms you have to be fairly determined, though. Of a slightly higher standard is the Tianma, a few blocks west of the Liangzhou (tel 0935/2212355; rooms Y75-300). You can buy a city map here in the hotel shop and, in the north building, there's a travel service (tel 0935/2212237).  

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