The ancient town of Fenghuang is located in the southwest corner of the west of Hunan province, in China, at the foot of a mountain along the banks of the Tuo Jiang River. The town is exceptionally well-preserved, untouched by modernization, harboring unique ethnic languages, customs, arts as well as many distinctive architectural remains of Ming and Qing styles.
The ancient town has basically maintained the layout and original appearances of the Ming dynasty, of 14th century, and Qing dynasty, of 17th century, to this day. There are preserved in the ancient town zone over 200 ancient residential buildings, some 20 large or small streets, 10 ancient lanes and alleys, as well as ancient town walls, ancient town gate towers, ancient leaping rock, ancient wells, ancient rainbow bridges, ancient temples of literature, ancient temples of poems, ancient ancestral temples etc., all of which are by and large preserved in their original state.
Fenghuang Town used to be an uncivilized and wild frontier, and it was in the 2nd year of Chuigong under the reign of Empress Wu (A.D.686) that Weiyang County was first established. In the 3rd year of Jiatai period in the Song Dynasty, an earthen town was constructed. This was replaced by a brick town over 450 years ago, and an ancient town began to take shape. By 1715, under Emperor Kangxi’s reign all stone buildings inside the town were completed.
Fenghuang is laid out in a remote mountain area. A red rock town wall winds along the undulating mountainous landscape, riding over the ridges and valleys, while rivers wind along the corridors before flowing out through the town. The stately and lofty town towers sits majestically against the four town gates, and the palace-style halls and residence, delicate quadrangles as well as civilian residences of various national styles are distributed along both sides of the streets. Dozens of alleys paved with flagstones run between the houses, each showing wear caused by the feet of generations of local people who have used them when going about their daily business. Timber structured stilt houses line along the river against the picturesque Nanhua Mountain full of big old trees.
Because of its unique geographical location, Fenghuang never suffered from the destruction of wars or natural disasters in hundreds of years. From the Miao people uprising in 1795 to the Getun uprising in 1937, there happened dozens of wars, none of which affected the town. Even during the war of resistance against Japanese invasion, Fenghuang town had not been occupied by Japanese invaders or suffered air bombing. In the year of 1949, Fenghuang was peacefully liberated. In the following 50 years, Fenghuang was spared of large-scale economical construction that happened in other districts. As the people of the ancient town cherished this especially valuable heritage bestowed by its profound cultural gifts, the local government has conducted a strict control over all the construction activities and thus successfully preserving the authenticity and integrity of the ancient town.