Jinan is the capital of Shandong Province and there are supposedly more than 100 natural springs in the city, which gave it the name "city of springs". The city lies between the Yellow River in the north and Mount Tai in the south. The Beijing-Shanghai and Qingdao-Jinan railways meet here.
The area was first inhabited during the Neolithic Period. Some 3,600 years ago, walls were built to enclose the town, which was then called Lu. The name was changed to Jinan 3,100 years ago because it was located to the south of the ancient Jishui River. In 1116, Jinan was established as a prefecture, and in 1368 it became the provincial capital.
A busy industrial city, with over 3 million inhabitants, Jinan is a stepping stone to visiting other areas of Shandong province such as the beaches of Qingdao or the home of Confucius, Qufu. In Jinan, visitors can enjoy the natural beauty of the city's parks, lakes and springs including the Baotu Spring, Daming Lake and Golden Ox Park, or walk up Thousand Buddha Hill and admire the many Buddhist statues carved into the niches of the mountain wall. The Shandong Provincial Museum at the foot of the Thousand Buddha Hill is also worth visiting for its wealth of exhibits some of which date back to the Shang and Zhou eras (1766-770BC).
Also known as the Lake of Great Light, Daming Lake is located in the northern part of the Old City district and is a natural lake where many springs converge. Springs empty themselves into the lake from the south and, if water overflows, the lake depletes its surplus water through the north water gate. This gate was built in the North Song dynasty, on the northern bank. As the lake bottom is composed of volcanic rock, the lake holds water so efficiently that the lake does not dry up during the dry season and it does not overflow after rainy onslaughts. The water level is continually kept at a steady level.
This lake has a surface area of 46.5 hectares, which is roughly one quarter of the district's total area. The pavilions, kiosks, terraces, halls and temples that dot the shore or the surrounding hills have all been repaired and repainted. A children's playground, a roller-skating rink and flower house have been constructed and facilities for boating have been installed.
Furthermore, the waters of the Five-Dragon Pool have been diverted to this place to form an artificial spring, whose flow turns into a beautiful cascade on the west bank.
The shores are fringed with weeping willow and about 16 acres of the lake have been planted white lotus, restoring the traditional scene of "lotus on four sides and willow in three".
Baotu Spring, or Jet Spring, the symbol of Jinan, is known not only as the first of the 72 springs in Jinan but as the 'First Spring under Heaven'. With its earliest account in "Spring and Autumn Annals", it has a long history of more than 2,600 years. Baotu Spring was formed because of Jinan's special geographical position and geological structure. Because it is both pure in quality and mellow in taste, the natural spring water could be directly used for drinking. When water bursts out through the 3 outlets, the spring gives thunderous sounds, and water columns surge upward, looking like spinning wheels.
The spring keeps its temperature at about 18 °C all year round. In the cold winter, mist rises from and hangs over the spring pond, and the clear, deep spring water reflects the ancient-styled buildings with colorful carvings and upturned eaves. The landscape presents a picturesque view of a paradise on earth. Poems and prose have been written for the spring view. Together with its environs, it has been turned into a park of the same name.
Baotu Spring is located in Baotu Spring Park southwest of the old Jinan City. The spring pool is rectangular with water 30 meter long, 18 meter wide and 2.2 meter deep. All the old buildings and relics there have been restored. The springs and ponds have been thoroughly dredged, and the banks lined with stone. Lawns and rockeries have been built and numerous trees and flower planted.
Also known as Qianfoshan, this hill is located about 2.5 kilometer southeast of Jinan at 285 meter above sea level. It occupies an area of 166 hectares.
Between 581 and 600, numerous Buddhist statues were sculpted on the rocky cliffs of this hill. There are small niches dotted throughout the hill with standing images of Buddhas and bodhisattvas. Many of the original statues were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but have recently been replaced. The hill is the venue of numerous religious festivals and also gives great views of the city.
Divine Rock Temple is on the Fangshan Mountain 78 kilometer from Jinan. The temple was constructed in the Northern Wei period and rose to importance in the Tang and Song dynasties. During dynastic times, the temple had more than 40 halls and over 500 rooms.
Today, the temple is famous for its main hall, the Thousand Buddha Hall, which houses 3 terracotta statues of Buddha and 40 different clay Luohan statues. These statues are famous for their realistic form and are said to be the best in the province.
In the western section of the temple is a Forest of Stupas made from 167 pagodas built in honor of leading monks who have passed away. Other buildings include the Treasure Hall of Great Hero, Bell and Drum Towers, pavilions, pagodas and stone steles all of which are of great historical and artistic value.
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