By the rim of the Bohai Gulf; the Gold Coast of North China, on the west coast of the vast Pacific Ocean, stands the Metropolis, Tianjin, which is located 137 kilometer southeast of Beijing.
The city gradually took shape in the 12th century when more and more settlements were established. It was a county town in the Qing dynasty and became a municipality in 1928. Together with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing, it is one of the 4 municipalities directly under the Central Government of the People's Republic of China, and the largest open seaport in north China. It ranks the 15th among the largest cities in the world.
Tianjin covers a total area of 11,300 square kilometer, with 153 kilometer of coastline and facing Japan, Korea and the Republic of Korea. It is divided into 13 districts and 5 counties and has a total population of over 9.3 million. It only takes 1 hour and 20 minutes by train or 2 hours' drive from Tianjin to Beijing.
The name "Tianjin" means "Emperors Ford", or 'the point where the Son of Heaven once forded the river'. The Son of Heaven referred to Zhu Di, Emperor Yongle of the Ming dynasty. In those days, imperial tribute grain from the southern parts of the country was shipped to the capital city by the Grand Canal, which flows through Tianjin.
Through the years, the city has now become one of the largest international trading ports and industrial and commercial metropolises in China, second only to Shanghai.
Lying on Tianwei Lu in the Hebei district of the city, the monastery is the largest Buddhist monastery in Tianjin. Built in 1611 and expanded in 1940, it was partially destroyed in a 1976 earthquake and was restored in 1980.
The monastery houses hundreds of Buddhist statues from different dynasties. Before 1956, the monastery contained a skull relic of Monk Xuanzhuang (also known as Hiuen Tsang), which had been given to a monastery in Nalanda in India for friendship. The statue of One Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara is artistic.
As one of the most famous mosques in China, Tianjin Great Mosque has been an important Islamic shrine since the beginning of the Qing dynasty. Extending over an area of 5000 square m, the mosque consists of 4 main structures, the Screen Wall, the Archway, the Prayer Hall and the Preaching Hall. Of these the Prayer Hall is the most active and respected spot in the complex. Even today, over 1,000 Muslims from in and around Tianjin come here to worship each week.
While tourists may not enter the building it is possible for them to walk round the courtyard so as to have a close view of the mosque. The Great Mosque lies in the northwest part of the city, Hongqiao District.
28 kilometer north of Jixian Country, which is about 120 kilometer north from Tianjin, there is another section of the Great Wall which is less known to foreigners. The Great Wall at Huangyaguan was originally built in 557 and rebuilt during the Ming dynasty.
This section of the Great Wall has features different with those in Beijing. There is now an international marathon held on the Great Wall annually.
Located 12 kilometer northwest of Jixian County, Mt. Panshan used to be one of the Ten Landscapes of Tianjin. The small mountain has a cluster of 5 peaks, with the highest being Guayuefeng (Peak of Hanging Moon), reaching 864 m. Although it is not high, Panshan is still a beautiful mountain, with dense foliage, clear waters and rugged rocks.
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