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City of Springs

By Li Yang | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-13 10:25

City of Springs

[Photo by Ju Chuanjiang/China Daily]

The ancient waterways of Jinan are the lifeblood of the city. Li Yang explores the ancient springs that are still cherished by local people.

Jinan, capital of Shandong province, is 500 kilometers south of Beijing and widely known as the City of Springs.

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It had 151 artesian springs within its 3.26-square-kilometer old city limit in the mid-19th century. Only 72 springs have survived the city's modernization and today they are treasured by locals.

The artesian wells bubble from the hydraulic pressure caused by the geographical drop of the location on which the city is built, with Mount Tai-shan to its south and the lower part of the Yellow River to its north.

The southern hilly area, which also collects and generates the springwater, is 500 meters higher than the river plain to the north. The groundwater flows downwards and gushes out at the foot of the hills.

Baotu Spring, made up of three big torrents of springs, is one of the most famous springs in the center of the downtown area, spraying an average of 240,000 tons of drinkable water every day.

The spring water maintains a constant temperature of 18 C throughout the year, creating fairy-tale visual effects in winter with misty vapor rising from the dark green water pool built for it.

There are four famous springs left in Jinan today, namely Baotu Spring, Pearl Spring, Black Tiger Spring and Five Dragon Spring.

Ancient pavilions, bridges, gardens and pagodas were built in the parks surrounding the springs since ancient times. The oldest building dates back to the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) and most are works of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

The Baotu Spring, Pearl Spring and Five Dragon Spring parks used to be private gardens of rich and powerful local families. The delicate gardens boast a good combination of springs, plants, rockery, yards and buildings, a rare arrangement in northern China.

Calligraphy works of two Song Dynasty (960-1279) poets Li Qingzhao and Xin Qiji, who were both born in Jinan, are exhibited in the parks with a host of ancient stone tablets carved with words of praise left by the literati from the ensuing dynasties.

The Black Tiger Spring, located beside the ancient city moat, consists of three springs where water runs through three carved tiger heads in a stone pool.

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