Located in southeast China’s Fujian Province and sandwiched between Meizhou Bay and Quanzhou Bay, Chongwu Ancient Walled City is a small place compared with other cities famous for ancient walls like Xi’an and Pingyao, but it is unique. Known as “a case of ancient systematic engineering”, it is the only extant one of the six dozens of stone forts built in the Ming Dynasty for the defense of the coastal areas in China, and its city wall is the only complete city wall made with granite in China. Chongwu is also the division of the East China Sea and the South China Sea.
Chongwu means “advocating defense” in Chinese. With three sides facing the water, it is served as a military base against invasion from Japan and other seafaring nations since the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). There are four city gates at the four directions of the city with one beacon tower over each gate. Chongwu’s walls are 2,457 meters long, 3 meters tall and 3 meters wide on average, laid out in the form of Chinese character “丁” . The walls looked bright yellow under morning sun with little grass and few trees growing on it.
Entering the city and walking along the narrow streets built of stone slabs, you cannot fail to notice all the houses are only one or two floors high and the building material is mostly thick stone. In the center of the town, there are some small shops, a market, a cinema from the 1970s, and halls in memory of locals’ ancestors.
Within the city there are also the Yunfeng Nunnery built in the Song Dynasty, and the Temple of Guan Yu built in the Ming Dynasty inside the south gate. Guan Yu was a famous general in Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-280) and widely revered for his loyalty and righteousness. The temple is richly decorated with brightly colored patterns on the roof and red couplets on the front wall. (Couplets are a pair of lines of Chinese poetry often placed beside doors.)
To the south of the Temple of Guan Yu, a large Stone Carving Park is located between the city wall and the beach, in which you will find the pole marking the meteorological division of the East China Sea and South China Sea. The park features hundreds of stone sculptures, which show the excellent craftsmanship of Hui’an. Among all the stone carving groups, Yulongku is the most attractive one. There are more than 150 kinds of stone carvings of marine animals, all of which are scattered on the beach. And you may be attracted by the amazing stone carving of a turtle, which is 23-metre-long and 15-metre-wide and looks so vivid.
The Chongwu beach is a delight, meandering for 28.8 kilometers with soft and white sands. Grilled meat is served on the beach in peak travel seasons in spring and autumn. Summer and winter are quiet and cozy instead.
Chongwu features its stone, beach as well as Hui’an women. The local Hui’an women in traditional costumes are an attraction of the city. They wear their yellow bamboo hats, bright-colored scarves, silver waist belts, short jackets and fat trousers, with a floral style head dress clipped to their hair. This style of dressing is unique to the area.
Chongwu Ancient City will take you along its ancient zigzag streets back to a time when family temples, traditional marriage customs and veneration of past heroes and ancestors defined a lively happy life. Climbing to the top of the stone wall, you could see clusters of stone houses inside the wall and brick four-to-five story buildings outside the wall, a sharp contrast of old and new.
How to get there:
It’s easy to make a day trip to Chongwu town from Quanzhou. You can take bus from Quanzhou Passenger Transport Center at the crossing of Pingshan Road and Quanxiu Road to go from Quanzhou to Chongwu town. The trip takes about one hour. Then it takes 15 minutes to walk or three minutes via taxi to go from Chongwu bus station to Chongwu Ancient City.
What to eat:
As a town so close to the sea, seafood is usually the first choice. One of the snacks you can find everywhere on the street is Chongwu fish roll, which is made of minced fish meat. It can be fried or cooked in soup.