Lushan National Park
Lushan National Park is a cultural landscape known for its natural beauty. It has inspired many Chinese artists, writers, philosophers and scientists.
The Lushan world heritage site contains four kinds of cultural relics:
- archaeological sites.
- historic buildings.
- Chinese and foreign villas.
Visit November 2007
(Mount) Lushan can be accessed by a 22 kilometer long curved road from Jiujiang. Lushan is an eclectic site, and not having found much information about it in my guidebook or on the internet, I started with buying a map at the local bookstore. It had many places marked on it but I could find only a couple of the sites named in the WH nomination.
As I have seen enough of sacred mountains (and their cable cars and turtle rocks) over the past weeks, I decided to focus on Lushan’s villas. These were built here from 1895 onwards by Europeans and Americans, turning Guling (the little town on Mount Lushan) into an internationally known summer resort.
The Meilu villa is the one closest to the bus station. It was constructed in 1903 by a Lord Reynolds and later used by Chang Kai-shek. You can get inside. Further down the road there are many other fine villas, like the Williams house and notably the group built by American missionaries. Walking around in this area does feel like you’re not in China anymore (the traffic in and around town is pleasantly low too).
On the other side of the valley there are more natural or traditional Chinese sights. What to think of the Three Ancient Trees? The three (one gingko and two cryptomeria) were reportedly planted in the 3th-5th century and stand now 39 meters tall.
A subject only slightly touched at the ICOMOS evaluation of this site is its connection with 20th century Chinese politics and the history of the Chinese Communist Party. This is one of the most clear features however. Lushan is famous for its ‘Lushan Conference’ in 1959, when Mao Zedong asserted his power and led him to proceed with the Great Leap Forward. Mao had a house here too, which now holds the Lushan Museum. It’s a spacious building where much of the period furniture has been preserved. One can even have a look at Mao’s bathroom (which surprisingly features a western style toilet!).
More photos can be found in the Picture Gallery
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