Qingdao (help·info) (simplified Chinese: 青岛; traditional Chinese: 青島; pinyin: Qīngdǎo; Wade-Giles: Ch'ing-tao) also known in the West by its postal map spelling Tsingtao, is a major city in eastern Shandong province, People's Republic of China. It borders Yantai to the northeast, Weifang to the west and Rizhao to the southeast. Lying across the Shandong Peninsula while looking out to the Yellow Sea, Qingdao today is a major seaport, naval base, and industrial center. It is also the site of the Tsingtao Brewery. The character 青 (qīng) in Chinese means "green" or "lush", while the character 岛 (dǎo) means "island". Qingdao is administratively at the sub-provincial level. In 2008, Qingdao was named China's 7th-most livable city.
Lying on the south coast of the Shandong Peninsula, Qingdao is a city of picturesque red-tiled roofs nestled between green hills and blue sea. The mild climate, the bathing beach, and Mount Laoshan make Qingdao a popular health and holiday resort, particularly in summer when visitors come here in droves for sightseeing and escaping the heat.
Qingdao is also an industrial city and a major foreign trade port. Its mineral water, wine, and excellent Tsingtao Beer are world-famous. Among the local arts and crafts, shell carvings are especially popular with tourists.
The concrete pier is the symbol of the city. It was originally a wooden structure built in 1890 during the reign of the Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing Dynasty. Ten meters wide and stretching four hundred meters into the sea, the pier ends in a colorful two-story octagonal building, the Wave Stopping Pavilion (Huilange). With its carved beams and painted eaves, this romantic pavilion is an enchanting sight by moonlight. Starting from Cape of Peach (Taipingqiao), the most beautiful section of the beach at Qingdao includes Fushan, Zhanshan, Taipingshan, and Huiquanjiao. The limpid water, wide beach, and soft sand make it ideal for sunbathing, swimming, and other marine sports.
Lu Xun Park , formally called Seaside Park, is adjacent to the bathing beach and is a good place to picnic within view of the sea. Li Bai, a famous poet of the Tang Dynasty, once compared the place to a fairyland by the sea. The memorial archway of the park is still inscribed with the words "Wonderland on the Sea." The park contains an aquarium and an aquatic museum, with a big seal pool nearby.
Qingdao's biggest park is located on Huiquan Hill near the seaside; it has been called the "Flower Garden of the East China Sea." Among its many flower gardens are a peony garden, a garden of sweet osmanthus, a magnolia garden, and a Chinese rose garden. There are also many varieties of trees here; in the spring the cherry blossoms are a major attraction.
Laoshan Mountain- in the southern part of the Shandong Peninsula, and 20 kilometers east of Qingdao, Mount Laoshan rises majestically from the sea, highlighted by strange rocks and precipitous cliffs. Grass and trees flourish on the mountain as the area has abundant rainfall. It is said that the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.) once came here in search of elixirs. A huge rock inscribed with the words "waves blending into the sky" is said to be where the emperor once stood when he climbed Laoshan. The mountain became a Taoist shrine during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) when many Taoist temples were built here. Legends described the mountain as a place of mystery and wonder, it was regarded as a residence of immortals.
The summit can be reached by three routes. Along the south route, the climber will find Genghis Khan's Supreme Purity Temple (Taiqinggong). This Taoist temple is composed of Three Emperors Hall (Sanhuangdian), with its towering cypresses over two thousand years old; Three Officials Hall (Sanguandian); and Three Purity Hall (Sanqingdian), with its Magic Water (Shenshui) Spring.
The north route zigzags among grotesquely shaped rocks and cliffs and offers many breathtaking views, including Three Steps in Succession (Sanbujin), Ladder in the Sky (Shangtianti), and Terrace for Meeting Immortals (Huixiantai). At strip of Sky (Yixiantian) the overhanging precipices are particularly thrilling. The Terrace for Meeting Immortals, rising more than a hundred meters above the ground like a tower, is also called Dressing Terrace (Shuzhuangtai) -- a folktale says that fairies used to dress themselves at the top.
Along the middle route, visitors can see Laoshan Springs, Regarded as "magic" since ancient times, the springwater comes from four directions: Nine Wter (Jiushui), Inner Nine Water (Neijiushui), Outer Nine Water (Waijiushui), and South Nine Water (Nanjiushui). Bottled Laoshan mineral water is a popular beverage in China.
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