Chinese Name: 岳阳楼
English Name: Yueyang Tower, Yueyanglou
Location: Yueyang City, Hunan Province
Type: Ancient architecture
Rating Level: AAAAA (5A)
Yueyang Tower岳阳楼 is an ancient Chinese tower in Yueyang, Hunan Province. It stands on the west gate of the Yueyang city wall, facing the Junshan Island in the distance, and linking the Yangtze River to the north and the Xiangjiang River to the south.
It has an excellent reputation known as “the Grand Yueyanglou Pavilion” for its magnificent vigor as well as the majestic structure, and it is also praised as one of the Three Great Towers of the south of China, alongside the Pavilion of Prince Teng滕王阁 and Yellow Crane Tower黄鹤楼.
In 1988 Yueyang Tower was named by the State Council as a key cultural relic site under state-level protection as well as a national scenic site. In 2011 it was among the first batch of national AAAAA tourist resorts.
It has a long history of more than 1,700 years. Legend has it that this helmet roof was specially designed to commemorate a general of the Three Kingdoms period (220–280): Lu Su, the famous general of Eastern Wu (222–280). Not until Tang Dynasty, the former officer Zhangshuo张说 was exiled to Yueyang, rebuilt the tower, and the name “The Yueyang Tower” has come into use ever since.
Yueyang Tower has been renovated and reconstructed many times. The current structure was rebuilt in 1867 during the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). It is the only ancient building among the three famous towers to keep its original appearance. The unique helmet roof structure reflects the wisdom of the ancient working people and the exquisite design skills of skilled craftsmen.
What is worth to visit and see？
The Yueyang Tower has its special architectural features. Its main building has three stories and is 15 meters in height, with four huge nanmu pillars supporting the whole building, twelve round log columns supporting the second floor, and another twelve catalpa pillars supporting the roof.
The configuration of Yueyang Tower is world unique and singular, with three floors, flying eave飞檐, helmet roof, and pure wooden structure. The tower’s roof is covered with yellow glazed tile and eaves rising high. The main building is 19.42 meters high, 17.42 meters wide, 14,54 meters deep, and covers an area of 251 square meters.
The San Zui Pavilion三醉亭 is located on the north side of Yueyang Tower. It is one of the auxiliary pavilions of the main building of the tower, corresponding to Xian Mei Pavilion. It is named because of the legend that Lu Dongbin was drunk three times here. The door is carved with patterned window lattice, and decorated with a variety of legendary engraved flowers. There is a picture of Lu Dongbin lying on the first-floor screen.
Dufu’s Pavilion怀甫亭 covers an area of 40 square meters, 7 meters high, with the rail around, the upper is pure wood, a tablet standing in the pavilion, engraved portraits of du fu and poem” Ascending Yueyang Tower” in the positive, engraved his life in the back and camphorwood plaques saying “bosom FuTing” three words hang under the north eaves, is the place where Yueyang people’s memory of poet Du Fu.
Xian Mei Pavilion仙梅亭 is located on the south side of Yueyang Tower. It is one of the auxiliary pavilions of the main building of the tower. Corresponding to the San Zui Pavilion, it is a hexagonal pavilion with three eaves on the second floor and high upturned eaves. Covering an area of 44 square meters, 7 meters high, covered with green glazed tiles.
Each floor of the tower exhibits couplets written by famous men of letters in Chinese history. The ground and first floors feature each a carved screen of “Memorial to Yueyang Tower”. The one on the first floor was hand-written by Zhang Zhao, a great calligrapher in the 18th century. On the third floor, a screen shows a famous 8th-century poet Du Fu‘s poem which was Mao Zedong‘s calligraphy.
Inside the tower, there is a well-known couplet written by the Tang poet Li Bai. The couplet says “The water and the sky are in the same color. It is the scene of wind and moon but there is no wind水天一色，风月无边”.
Yueyang Tower is not only notable for its ingenious construction, but also a world of art with a set of couplets对联, poems, and folk tales rolled into one. Twelve sanders boards composed of a wooden screen with the whole text of “Memorial to Yueyang Tower” 岳阳楼记 carved on it. Various couplets hang around on the walls, the longest is more than 100 characters, while the shortest is merely made up of 8 characters.
The great writer of the Northern Song Dynasty(960-1127) Fan Zhongyan wrote the widely-read article “Memorial to Yueyang Tower” which not only described the splendid scenery but also wrote the famous lines “one should be the first to bear hardship, and the last to enjoy comforts”. Then the Tower became a popular scenic spot in South China.
“Dongting is the first water under heaven and Yueyang Tower is the first tower under heaven ” is an outstanding representative of Xiangchu culture. Yueyang Tower is not only the temple of Confucian culture but also the fairy of metaphysical culture. The beauty of the tower is the harmonious beauty of the cultural landscape and natural landscape.