From the tower-like design of pagodas to the bilateral symmetry of temples, Chinese architecture is simply a wonder for the eyes and a calming notion for the soul. However, if you hope to dive a bit deeper into the purpose and creation of these structures, we’ve got you covered in this month’s cover story. In general, you may have noticed that Chinese architectural designs follow the rules of feng shui. Through this delicate yet powerful traditional practice, architects and feng shui masters come together to optimize internal and external spaces with the aim of harmony and joy. As the idea of feng shui flows in the veins of Chinese culture, it’s doubtless that ancient China and religious aspects also play a significant role. All in all, it’s important to view these impressive and elegant structures as a blessing in disguise, watching over our future while reminding us of our past.
Taking an afternoon stroll in Qifeng Park is the definition of relaxation. In particular, the pavilion near Huangqi Guanyin Ancient Temple provides a calm atmosphere for both children and the elderly, especially as an array of lush greenery surrounds the area. To those that prefer sun blockage, take a seat underneath the resting area. However, if you pay attention, you may find that the resting areas in many Dongguan parks serve a secondary purpose of establishing nostalgia due to the prominent features of a tiled rooftop and sturdy structure.
Although the Xiangyuan Tower in Xiangshi Park has only been built more recently, this majestic structure is still a sight for sore eyes. Surrounded by a cluster of woodland, the tower lights up at night—a beacon in the center of Dongguan. Furthermore, the Dongguan Chenxiang Culture Museum is located nearby, showcasing Dongguan incense culture from ancient times to today. As a whole, the park encompasses hundreds of acres of land with soothing scenery, perfect for a weekend outing with family.
Located in Houjie Town, the Hetian Fang Ancestral Hall is a longstanding remnant of history. Built during the reign of Emperor Hui of the Ming Dynasty, the ancestral hall was named a cultural relic protection unit in Guangdong Province. To ensure that the relic was indeed protected, the Houjie Town Government launched the Fang Ancestral Hall repair implementation plan in 2006. The two-year restoration project birthed the “Five Entries” of the ancestral hall, including an antechamber, pavilion, lobby, family area and children study section.
The red and yellow illumination of the magnificent Guanyin Temple hides in the depths of Daling Mountain. Its architectural style is Xieshan as commonly seen throughout the Qing Dynasty, as the rooftops are shaped with two curved sides in addition to the broad gates. Inside, each floor level is dedicated to different Buddhas, inviting many to its altar of worship from all corners of Dongguan and beyond.
As visitors roam between the narrow alleyways of Tangwei Ancient Village, they can impress upon the unique houses that date back to the late Ming Dynasty. Many of these houses focus on both function and appearance, which are core aspects of the Lingnan style. For one, the mold- and moisture-resistant structure is quite useful in hot and humid climates. On the other hand, the stylistic features of the relief carvings and sculptures are often inspired by Chinese mythology and Cantonese folktale.
With just over 1,200 years of history since it was named Guancheng, this older portion of the city holds many landmarks. The most significant one is the site of the western gate from the old city walls. Commonly called the West Gate, its official name is Ying’En Gate Tower, loosely translated to graceful welcome. For many, visiting Guancheng and gazing upon the glorious Ying’En Gate Tower can be a nostalgic journey through old Dongguan.
In Zhangmutou, the Buddhist Guanyin temple sits at the top of the Guanyin Mountain next to the massive statue of Saint Guanyin—the “Goddess of Mercy.” Examples of such beautiful and intricate Chinese architecture can be seen throughout this national forest park. The temple is even rated as a national 4A level scenic spot by the National Tourism Administration. It’s truly an unforgettable scenic experience for expats and locals alike.
Amid Tongsha Ecological Park, it’s easy to get lost in the serenity that the lake provides. The lake view from the bridge builds upon this sentimental mood while featuring an architectural beauty with a traditionally tiled hip roof and wooden columns. In addition, the park itself boasts 1,000 hectares in lake area and 3,000 hectares of forest area, including 70 species of trees and more than 30 kinds of animals.
As one of the four great Lingnan gardens of the Qing Dynasty, Keyuan Garden is a must-visit for any Dongguan resident. In fact, the garden itself was built by and home to Dongguan local Zhang Jingxiu, who valued the arts and culture despite being a part of the military. Inside Keyuan Garden, one can explore the palace, bridges, pools, pavilions, lofts, ancestral halls and more. All structures are tied together by a maze-like effect derived from the Eight Elements Battle Formation by military strategist Zhuge Liang.