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Anqing


  The city of Anqing, on the north bank, is situated in that area of Anhui Province: called Huainan, meaning south of the Huai River. It is built along the Dalong Hills amidst pretty surroundings. Historical records refer to the appointment of an official to the town as early as Yangtze Riverthe Spring and Autumn period (770--476 BC). During the Qing(l644--l911) and the Republican period (l911--49) the city was the capital of province, though today the capital is Hefei, further north. Anqing's main function is to gather and distribute local produce: it also has a petrochemical industry.

  The handsome octagonal Zhenfeng Pagoda,the major landmark,was built in 1570 amidst the remains of the Song-dynasty Welcoming the River Temple(Yingjiang Si). A fine view of the city can be enjoyed from its top storey.

  The pagoda was built by a Daoist (Taoist) architect, Zhang Wencai, who was ought to Anqing specially from Baiyun Temple in Bejing. Stone balconies surround six of its seven storeys. Inside, over 600 Buddha images cover the brick walls. Set into the lower half of the pagoda are images of the pagoda are images of the local prefect, Wang Erquan, who commissioned its construction, and other personages of the period.

  The town was occupied by the Taiping rebels for six years, and one of its kings7;built a residence here. It seems that the imperial defences of Anqing left much to be desired, for when it fell to the rebels in 1853 Emperor Xianfeng wrote:'Great has been my indignation on reading the memorial... how could that important provincial Capital be captured by the bandits in one day?' The city, retaken in 1861, was ravaged.Travellers to the city 60 years later noted that large parts of it were still in ruins.

  Riverboats stop at Guichi (at the mouth of the Qiupu River), which is the closest port for those visiting the sacred Buddhist mountain of Jiuhua and the famous scenic area of Huangshan to the south. These can be reached by bus, although Wuhu,further downriver, offers more choice of transport.