Eight Great Passes

Last updated by drwi at 2014/5/3

The Badaguan ("Eight Stratetic Passes" - hereafter referred to by its shorter, Chinese name, except where otherwise required) scenic site lies south of Qingdao's largest park, Qingdao Zhongshan Park (one of 40 such parks in China named after the revered Republic of China military strategist, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whose birthname was Sun Zhonghan), and north of Taiping Bay, and is bordered to the west by Huiquan Bay while it is bordered to the east by the fork created by the junction of east-bound Zhengyangguan Road and west-bound Xianggang West Road, at the northern apex of Taiping Bay. Zhengyangguan Road, which cuts roughly through the middle of the scenic site, dividing it into a northern and a southern half, is in fact one of the eight strategic guan ("passes"), or avenues. Two other avenues/ passes have since been added, though the original name, Eight Strategic Passes, has stuck.

Badaguan, which is a collection of large villas, built in the architectural style of numerous countries (though there are more than 200 villas that make up Badaguan, they represent only 24 internationally recognized architectural styles), came into being during the period when Qingdao was part of the German Concession of 1898. The architectural styles of all of the European countries are represented here, as well as those of North America, Japan and Russia and numerous other countries, prompting Badaguan's nickname "The Architectural Museum of a Hundred Nations". Badaguan was originally conceived as a spa, sanitorium, or kurbad (heil- und kurbad, in German (literally, "health and curative spa")), as in Baden-Baden or Baden-Württemberg (baden being German shorthand for heil- und kurbad ... note that the bad of badaguan has nothing whatsoever to do with the bad of baden, since badaguan is in fact a contraction of ba ("eight") da ("strategic") guan ("passes")).

Having discovered that Qingdao has an excellent temperate climate conducive to rest and recuperation (eg., on the heels of an illness), Colonial Era Germany, like many old European countries with a long-established spa tradition, decided to create a spa, or sanitorium, at Qingdao, and therefore invited architects from all over the world to create a villa that would reflect the style of their respective countries. This explains the Austrian, British, Canadian, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Swiss and Russian style villas, to name some of the more prominent, represented at Badaguan. The name Eight Strategic Passes refers to the eight strategic ancient routes - each with its strategic gate, or pass - that provide a passageway through the Great Wall of China.

The famous eight strategic passes/ avenues are: Hanguguan, Jiayuguan, Juyongguan, Ningwuguan, Shanhaiguan, Shaoguan, Zhengyangguan and Zijingguan. The two later additions are: Linhuaiguan, which has been sandwiched in between Zhengyangguan and Juyongguan; and Wushengguan, which represents an extension of Badaguan on the northern side. Shaoguan, Ningwuguan and Zijingguan run in a north-south direction, intersecting, roughly at right angles, the other avenues, which all run in an east-west direction.

The architecture of the European and North American villas here are often in either a Western classical or a Western romantic style, though more recent styles such as the Gothic are also present. And with respect to the Western classical versus the Western romantic style, each villa of course reflects the particular nationality of the country in question, since Dutch architecture in, say, a Western classical style will combine different elements of that style than would French architecture in the same general style, while each would include individual, nationalistic elements that hark back to an earlier period in their respective histories, before each embraced the classical style, or its more modern cousin, the romantic style.

For example, a Western romantic style Spanish villa at Badaguan, though it may have many features in common with a Western romantic style Italian villa at Badaguan, looks distinctly Spanish. That said, there is a shorthand description of Badaguan - which sanitorium, it should be noted, is situated by the sea - that captures the essence of this little microcosm of international villa styles that mirrors the villa styles of the larger world that lies beyond China's borders (and which, at Badaguan in any case, looks very European): the "red tiles, green trees, blue skies and green seas" of Qingdao (think L'Estaque by the Post-Impressionist French painter, Paul Cézanne).

Another distinctive feature of Badaguan is that most of the passes/ avenues have their own specific aboreal theme - each avenue its own distinct species of tree, though three of the passes/ avenues share the same tree species. Hanguguan, Shanhaiguan and Wushengguan all share the Candlenut (Aleurites moluccana) tree; Jiayuguan is defined by the Trident Maple (Acer buergerianum) tree; Juyongguan, by the Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) tree; Linhuaiguan, by the Cypress (Genus Cupressus) tree; Ningwuguan, by the Chinese Flowering Crab-Apple (Malus hopa) tree; Shaoguan, by the common Peach (Prunus persica) tree (which the whole world got from China, by the way); Zhengyangguan, by the Crape Myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica) tree; while Zijingguan is defined by the Cedar (Cunninghamia Lanceolata) tree.

In addition, certain of the avenues during the blossoming season are more known for their type of flowers (eg., purple violets is synonymous with Ningwuguan avenue) or their Forsythia (Genus Forsythia) shrubs, with their characteristic, bright yellow blossoms (Shaoguan avenue), than for their tree species. In fact, there are so many flowers that adorn the avenues of Badaguan that the area is as commonly known by the locals as Hua Jie, which means "a place of flowers".

The latest expansion to Badaguan is a peach orchard in the northeastern corner of the area between Xianggang West Road and Qingdao Zhongshan Park, and a cypress grove in the corresponding southwestern corner, on the small stretch of land that juts out into the Yellow Sea, separating Huiquan Bay to the west from Taiping Bay to the east. The peach orchard is a great place to take a stroll in the spring, when the trees blossom, while the cypress grove, now that the trees have matured and have created natural compartments, as it were, is a favorite place for lovers, who can find themselves an unoccupied "room" here, if they are lucky.

With the emergence of the People's Republic of China, Badaguan became a spa for certain government and party officials, but Badaguan is also a place where public officials - and sometimes invited dignitaries from abroad - spend shorter or longer vacations, though the public is welcome to stroll through Badaguan's avenues and to visits its green oases. Its coastal side is a favorite venue for newlyweds looking to capture a memorable snapshot.

 

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You can take bus nos. 26, 31, 304 or 316, and get off at the Wushengguan stop, or, you can take bus no. 219 and get off at the Zhengyangguan stop.

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