When we speak of Anhui, most people will surely mention Mt. Huang first. Indubitability, the excellent natural scenery always impresses the tourists deeply. However, if you take special notice of the ancient villages nearby, you will unexpectedly be pleasantly surprised with the dreamland villages - Xidi and Hongcun.
Located at Yixian County Anhui Province, Xidi and Hongcun have about 400-500 years of history. The original residential style and features of the Ming and Qing Dynasties were preserved perfectly. Reputed as ,A Living Ancient Residential Museum, by experts and tourists at home and from abroad, they were listed as a world cultural heritage site by UNESCO in 2000.
How do people evaluate the ancient villages in Southern Anhui? Well, Architects refer to them as a living Museum of the Ming and Qing Dynasties; foreign tourists see them as the most beautiful county on earth; camerists view them as the county in the traditional Chinese paintings; for the locals it is home on wonderland.
Xidi - A Cymbiform Village
Lying 8 kilometers northeast of Yixian County and built in 11 A.D, Xidi is 700 meters long and 300 meters wide. Encircled by surrounding mountains, two streams cut across the whole village. As you walk downstream, you will be able to take in everything in a glance. At this point, allow me to introduce you to the architectural style first. Wooden architectures in Xi,di is unique and elegant: prettified walls preventing rain infiltration; black tiles recording the history of the town; decorative gate towers standing for the particular flavor of the architecture. Rich and exquisite wood carvings, stone engravings and tile carvings are also very representative. Rockeries, fish ponds, various parterres can be seen in the courtyard, where the ground is paved with cobbles. Well-arranged laneways, streams and architectures in Xidi are garden-like scenery. It is pleasing to both the eye and the mind. At present, there are 122 ancient well-preserved residential areas in the village. People come to see it not only just for the architecture but also to enjoy the rich cultures.
Hongcun - A cattle-like village
Why do people call Hongcun a cattle-like village? Does it arouse your curiosity? Allow me ,cattle,. A stream passes by every door in the Village like a cattle,s gut; a semilunar pond looks like the cattle,s stomach; four bridges over the stream form the cattle,s feet. This is the so-called cattle-like village. Located 10 kilometers northeast of Yixian County and built during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279), Hongcun has something similar to Xidi in its architectural style. The Halls of Chengzhi, Jingxiu and Dongxian are very typical of that era. With marbled ground, black tiles, fresh red lanterns, elaborate wood-carvings and august toriis, they are reputed as ,the Folk Imperial Palaces,. As one wanders along the path of the village, painters can be seen everywhere. People like drawing the natural and simple scenery in Hongcun. Many traditional Chinese paintings are about these two villages, which enjoy great popularity among the world.
There are one resident of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) and 132 residents of the Qing Dynasty (1644 - 1911). With large-scale features, completeness and elegance in the structure, Hongcun is also a must-see place for travelers. Local people are most hospitable and invite you into their houses. Remember to take your camera along with extra film rolls!