Seven Star Park
Seven Stars Park is situated on the eastern side of the Li River, near the city of Guilin, Guangxi Province. The park could also be called Ursa Major ("Great Bear"), the constellation whose seven brightest stars form what is termed the Big Dipper in the U.S., the Plough in Britain, the Great Cart (Grosser Wagen) in Germany, Karl's Cart in Scandinavia (i.e., Karlsvognen/ Karlsvagnen/ Karlsvogna/ in Denmark/ Sweden/ Norway), and the Saucepan (Steelpannetje) in Dutch. In eastern Asia, including in China, it is known as the Northern Dipper (Beidou Qixing, in pinyin). The connection to Ursa Major is the fact that inside the park, which is enormous, lies Mount Putuo with its four major peaks (corresponding to the four corners of the Big Dipper's "cup") and Crescent Mountain, with its three major peaks (corresponding to the "handle" of the Big Dipper).
Seven Stars Park covers an area of 120 hectares and is Guilin's largest park. As such, it houses some of the finest sightseeing venues not only in the city of Guilin, but in the entire region. The major attractions of Seven Stars Park include Camel Hill, Flower Bridge, Guihai Forest of Steles, Seven Stars Cave, and Seven Stars Zoo. There are a number of smaller attractions within the park such as Maping Mosque, Dragon Hiding Cave, Crescent Stone, Zenggong Stone, Light of China Square, Three Generals and Eight Hundred Warriors' Tomb, an amusement park for children, and a large potted landscape, all spread out over an expansive park area that is lush with greenery. The park's major attractions are described in greater detail below.
Camel Hill is truly a Wow! sight in Seven Stars Park. In Guilin, you will find that all of the area's limestone hills, due to natural erosion, have profiles that remind you either of someone or something. Seven Stars Park's Camel Hill thus resembles a giant camel standing in a giant grassland. The large swath of grassland in which the "camel" stands offers a pleasant stroll. The setting sun bathes Camel Hill in warm, glowing hues that are breathtakingly beautiful to behold. Seven Stars Park, and Camel Hill in particular, has long been a popular tourist venue for the Chinese people, but is becoming increasingly popular with foreign tourists, owing to the park's diversity (and size) in general, and perhaps owing to Camel Hill's impressive vistas in particular. In 1998, when a visiting U.S. President Clinton delivered a memorable speech on the need for environmental protection, he did so standing before Seven Stars Park's Camel Hill.
Flower Bridge marks the main entrance to Seven Stars Park. The bridge was originally built during the Song (CE 907-979) Dynasty. Wild flowers would often spring up around a new bridge's ends, bathing the bridge's land abutments in a sea of blossoms from late spring to mid-summer, and the bridge in Seven Stars Park was no exception, which explains how the bridge got its name. Unfortunately, the wild flowers have for the most part gradually disappeared, having been replaced by hardy grasses. Still, Flower Bridge is a handsome bridge to behold, as it is an uncharacteristically massive arched stone bridge, with in all eleven arches: four that span the Xiaodong River, four that anchor the bridge at one end, and three that anchor it at the other end. Stretching for some 60 meters, Flower Bridge now also sports a glass-enclosed wind- and rain corridor.
Guihai Forest of Steles
The Guihai Forest of Steles lies south of Crescent Hill, which, in turn, lies south of Putuo Hill. Here are some 220 well-preserved upright stone tablets (steles) that feature ancient engravings representing some of China's earliest calligraphy. Most of the engravings date from the Tang (CE 618-907) and Song Dynasties. They figure prominantly in the history of Chinese calligraphy. Guihai Forest of Steles ranks second only to China's Xian Forest of Steles, but is decidedly worth a visit.
Seven Stars Cave
Nestling under the paunch, as it were, of Putuo Hill is Seven Stars Cave. The cave, which is renowned for its dazzling array of stalactites and stalagmites, is divided into three sections: an upper section that is so high and steep that one can hardly reach its top; a lower section through which runs an underground river; and a middle section that consists of an 800-meter-long tunnel whose widest point is 49 meters and whose highest point measures 27 meters. The middle section serves as the main touring area. Seven Stars Cave has been a popular tourist attraction for centuries. As early as during the Song Dynasty, speleologists explored the cave, leaving their "signatures" on the cave's walls. With its myriad of bizarrely shaped karst formations that resonate with unique sounds, the cave is an interesting - and indeed, enticing - adventure that will reward your time and effort with fascinating sights and sounds.
Seven Stars Zoo
Seven Stars Zoo is home to number of giant pandas, which - hands-down - is the driving force behind the zoo's popularity. In recent years, complaints from animal rights activists concerning the treatment of the zoo's pandas has resulted in a change of leadership and a change in policy, such that today, Seven Stars Zoo's giant pandas thrive once again.
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