Wudang Mountains — Sacred Taoism Place and Picturesque National Geopark

Wudang Mountains in Hubei Province of China

What is Wudang Mountain?

 

Wudang Mountains has been a holy land of Taoism Religion in China, a National Geopark with spectacular natural sceneries, and the center of Wudang Kung Fu. 

 

After Wudang Mountains became the royal Taoist place of the Ming Dynasty (1368 — 1644), it had been well developed under the support of emperors, which made the ancient building complex there hold exceptional artistic and architectural values.

 

Beautiful Nature and Ancient Building Complex of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

Important Data of Wudang Mountains

 

  • Wudang Mountains is in Hubei Province, the middle south of China;

 

  • It is around 312 square kilometers large;

 

  • The highest peak is 1612 meters above sea level;

 

  • There are 53 ancient buildings with 27,000 square meters' construction area and 9 architectural ruins with about 200,000 square meters' construction area;

 

  • Over 5000 valuable cultural relics are preserved in the Wudang Mountains.

 

Ruins of Five Dragon Palace (or Wulong Gong), One of the Earliest Temples of the Wudang Mountains, Photo by Tianshu Shijue.

Who is the deity of the Wudang Mountains?

 

Zhenwu Dadi, also respected as Xuanwu Dadi, is a sacred Taoism deity that is in charge of Northern Land, water, military, and the representative of longevity and immortality. 

 

Ancient Building and Censer on Wudang Mountains

 

How the Wudang Mountains became the royal Taoist place in Ming Dynasty?  

 

Wudang Mountains has been a Taoist holy land in history, where many hermits practiced Taoism.

 

During Emperor Taizong of Tang's reign (626 — 649), the first Taoism temple was constructed there under the emperor's command. 

 

Since then, more hermits, nobles, and Taoists came to the Wudang Mountains, and more temples were constructed there. 

 

After Zhu Di (1360 — 1424) snatched the throne from his nephew, he claimed that he and his father Zhu Yuanzhang (1328 — 1398), founder emperor of the Ming Dynasty, had been protected and supported by the Deity Zhenwu Dadi. 

Portrait of Yongle Emperor Zhu Di by Court Painter — Taipei Palace Museum

Therefore, Emperor Zhu Di respected Zhenwu Dadi as the national deity, and the Wudang Mountains as the most sacred place of the Ming Empire.  

 

Since the year 1412, Emperor Zhu Di had sent over 300,000 workers and artisans to Wudang Mountains and constructed the largest royal Taoist place. 

 

The emperor demanded to design the buildings based on the legend of Zhenwu Dadi and to follow and protect the natural environment of the holy Wudang Mountains. 

 

His close involvement in designing, and great financial support, made the buildings of the Wudang Mountains with exceptionally high standards and quality. 

Royal Style Buildings of Wudang Mountains.

What is the cultural importance of the Wudang Mountains?

 

  • The ancient building complex in Wudang Mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that holds exceptional artistic, cultural, and historical values;

 

  • Martial Art of Wudang Mountains is one of the most influential Kung Fu sects in China;

 

  • Wudang Mountains has been a Taoist holy land in China for thousands of years;

 

  • Taoism religious culture, music, herbs, health preservation, etc., has been thriving in the Wudang Mountains.

 

Ancient Buildings and Decorations on Summit of Wudang Mountains.

What are important cultural sites of the Wudang Mountains?

 

Golden Hall or Jin Dian

 

Constructed in the year 1416 at the top of the highest peak of the Wudang Mountains, the Golden Hall has been the most sacred palace of the mountain.  

 

This hall used about 20 tons of copper and 300 kilograms of gold to build and enshrined Zhenwu Dadi in the hall. 

 

Today, the Golden Hall still as shiny as they firstly built, despite centuries of rain, thunder, and wind. 

 

Golden Hall or Jindian of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

Stone-Walled Forbidden City or Zijin Cheng

 

In the year 1419, Emperor Zhu Di commanded to construct a royal city surrounding the Golden Hall, modeled on his royal Forbidden City in Beijing.  

 

This Stone-Walled Forbidden City was built for Zhenwu Dadi to live. 

Building Complex of Stone-Walled Forbidden City or Zijin Cheng of Wudang Mountains under the Starry Sky.

Purple Cloud Palace or Zixiao Gong

 

Firstly constructed in 1121, extended and rebuilt several times in history, the 274,000 square meters' large Purple Cloud Palace is one of the most well preserved Taoist temples. 

 

Besides being a royal Taoist temple of the Ming Dynasty, it is also an example of exceptional wooden architecture of the Ming era, with great artistic, cultural, and religious values. 

Main Hall of Purple Cloud Palace or Zixiao Gong

South Rock Palace or Nanyan Gong

 

South Rock or Nanyan has been believed the most beautiful place in the Wudang Mountains, where Zhenwu Dadi became immortal and flew to the sky. 

 

Hence, in 1413, under the command of Emperor Zhu Di, temples on the South Rock were rebuilt and got largely extended to a palace.

South Rock Palace or Nanyan Gong on Cliff, Photo by Yang Yingyi. 

Xuanyue Gateway

 

This stone gateway was constructed in 1551, under the command of Jiajing Emperor, and with his writing "Zhishi Xuanyue" carved in the middle, meaning great and prosperous reign. 

 

Xuanyue Gateway has been believed as the border between the deity's land and the human's secular world. 

Xuanyue Gateway of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

Fuzhen Temple or Taizi Po

 

Constructed in the year 1412 under the command of Emperor Zhu Di, Fuzhen Temple was built on a steep slope. 

 

Its buildings, layout, painted sculptures, frescoes, plants, everything was designed based on Zhenwu Dadi's cultivating of Dao's experiences. 

Part of Buildings on Slope of the Fuzhen Temple or Taizi Po of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

Yuxu Palace or Yuxu Gong

 

Constructed in 1413, Yuxu Palace used to be the largest complex of the Wudang Mountains, with over 2200 rooms. 

 

However, this 525,000 square meters' spectacular palace was ruined in a big fire in the year 1745 and left only some building ruins.

Stone Turtle Carrying Monument of the Yuxu Palace or Yuxu Gong of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

What are impressive natural scenic views of the Wudang Mountains?

 

Sunrise of Wudang Mountains, Photo by Fuyun Piaomiao. 

Picturesque Autumn of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

Peaks and Seas of Clouds of Wudang Mountains, Photo from Official Site of Mount Wudang.

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