China showcases nautical hero Zheng He's shipyard in Nanjing
Updated: 2005-11-07 15:55
As China and the world marks the 600th anniversary of
the voyages of famed navigator Zheng He, a newly excavated shipyard where much
of his ancient fleet was built has finally opened to the public.
A statue of famed Chinese navigator Zheng He
stands at the new park surrounding the Treasure Boat Factory Ruins, a part
of Nanjing's commemoration of the adventurous admiral who set sail from
the city and whose footprints still mark this ancient capital, now capital
of eastern China's Jiangsu province. [AFP]
The new park surrounding the Treasure Boat Factory Ruins is part of Nanjing's
commemoration of the adventurous admiral who set sail from the city and whose
footprints still mark this ancient capital.
Many of Zheng's maiden fleet of 62 ships were built in the shipyard that sits
in Nanjing's central Gulou district near the Yangtze River, including his huge
136-meter-long (448-foot) flagship vessel, experts say.
"Not all the boats were made in Nanjing but we are sure that most of them
were, including the treasure boats," Ma Guangru, head of Nanjing's Zheng He
Research Society, told AFP, referring to the most prestigious vessels in the
"At the time Nanjing was the capital of China, the capital of the Ming
Dynasty, and it was the Ming emperor who ordered the voyages, so that is why the
boats were made in Nanjing and why the voyages began here."
Other boats were made in the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi and
Fujian provinces, he said.
Today only three of Nanjing's seven ship docks where the boats were built
remain, and only one has been excavated.
During his seven voyages, the eunuch Zheng travelled as
far as northern Australia and the western coast of Africa with fleets growing to
more than 300 ships, many of which dwarfed the boats that Christopher Columbus
would use to discover America nearly 100 years later.