Baidicheng, which means 'White Emperor City' in Chinese, is located at the entrance of the Qutang Gorge and 8 kilometers from Fengjie County. It is not a real city, but a mini peninsular town with some temples and gates on top of Baidi Hill in Fengjie County. Climbing over 500 steps, you can reach the top. It is the starting point of Three Gorges and one reason the place is very famous in China is that Li Bai, a great poet in Tang Dynasty in the 7th century, had a very famous poem about this place.
The Name of White Emperor City
It was named White Emperor City as early as the Western Han Dynasty in the 1st century AD. At that time there was a very ambitious general in this area, who wanted very much to make a rebellion and declared himself as a new emperor. One day he had a dream in which he saw a big white dragon rising from a well in the city. As in ancient Chinese culture, dragon represented emperor. He therefore believed that it was probably the will of God of Heaven and as a result, he named this place White Emperor City and later declared himself as a new emperor. However unfortunately he was then killed by Liuxiu, who established the Eastern Han Dynasty later. To commemorate this man, after his death, the local people built a temple here named White Emperor Temple.
Gongsun Shu, the White Emperor
White Emperor City and The Three Kingdom
White Emperor City was the place where a popular story happened, which has been another reason that made it famous all over China. Liu Bei, the King of Shu Kingdom in Three Kingdom Period, before he was dead, entrusted his state power and his son to Zhuge Liang, his Prime Minister and talented advisor . Wax statues in the temple describe the moment in the year 220 AD.
Liu Bei Entrusted His State and Sons to Zhuge Liang
A pavilion standing west of the Baidi Temple has 12 pillars on the ground floor and 6 on the upper floor, with upturned eaves and polished beams. It was said that Zhuge Liang once watched the stars and thought of the strategy of how to unit China here.
Attractions in White Emperor City
White Emperor City is also a center of historical relics in the Three Gorges. Preserved in this town are seventy-four stone tablets of the Sui, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties inscribed with poems, essays, antithetical couplets, pictures and calligraphy.
The calligraphy of the inscriptions on the stone tablets is in the styles of great and small seal characters, official script of the Han Dynasty, script of the Wei Dynasty, regular script, running hand or cursive hand, each having its own characteristics. The most valuable inscription is to be found on the Memorial Tablet to Lord Longshan, which is executed in a forceful calligraphy that combines the styles of the southern and northern calligraphers. The inscription is about 1,300-1,400 years old. The tablet was unearthed in 1859 in the ninth year of Emperor Xianfeng's reign of the Qing Dynasty , during which a fort was being built at the northwestern corner of the town of Fengjie. On the top edge of the same tablet are newly carved words: 'Flood water caused a disaster, rising to a level fifty feet higher than the town on the nineteenth day of the sixth month in the ninth year of the Tongzhi reign.' It is a truthful record of the notorious flood of the Yangtze River in 1870 and a rare piece of hydrological history.
Two of the stone tablets are carved with pictures of unique styles. One is carved with a phoenix, the king of birds, a peony, the king of flowers, and a parasol tree---the king of trees. As a result, the tablet is called the Phoenix Tablet or the Tablet of Three Kings. The other is called the Bamboo Leaf Tablet because it is carved with a poem , of which all the characters were made up by bamboo leaves. Both of these are unusually conceived.
Phoenix Stele here is also very famous. Engraved on the stele are phoenixes, king of birds, peony, king of flowers and Chinese parasol, and king of trees. So it is also called "Three King Stele".
The White Emperor City is surrounded by the river on three sides and backed by a mountain. When the Three Gorge Project is finished in the future, this place will be surrounded by water and become a beautiful island.