An ancient trading town lying in a ring of low hills. Tunxi is often referred to as the “city of Huangshan”. It is the main base for trips to the Huangshan Mountains and Huizhou villages. Staying in the old town, you will get a good opportunity to travel around the Yangtze Delta. In comparison with the provincial capital, the city of Hefei, Tunxi is much more suitable for the role of the center of southern Anhui.
Tunxi is located at the confluence of the Xinanjiang and Hengjiang Rivers. The oldest and most interesting quarters are located in the southwestern part of the city, in the area of Huangshanlu and Xinan-lu streets. Most travelers are limited in the Old City to exploring one street, which is called the Old One. Modern quarters tend to the railway station in the north-eastern part of the city.
There are few attractions in Tunxi. A block away from the river, the Old Street begins — a long row of wooden buildings in the Huizho-Wu style of the Ming era. There are many souvenir shops open late. To see the real city life, and at the same time have a snack, turn into any side alley. On the Old Street there is the Wanquilou Museum ; Y50; @8.30-21.30) with a private collection of local antiquities, giving an opportunity to get acquainted with the traditional architecture and applied art of Huizhou of the last four centuries.
Youth hostels offer day trips with visits to the villages of Sidi and Hongcun, as well as a direct bus flight to the Huangshan Mountains. The Huangshan Tourist Center also offers guided tours and discounted tickets.
Just 40 minutes by bus in the western direction from Tunxi — and you are already admiring the beauty of Qiyunshan. The reddish cliffs continue to inspire fans of Taoism, who have numerous temples and idols at their disposal. Hiking fans are waiting for trails that offer fascinating views.
The local architecture of Huizhou defines the uniqueness of this region. Rural architects for centuries reflected the tastes of the merchants who ruled in these places in the Ming-Qing era. Typical examples of Huizhou style can be found in Yixian and Shexian counties. The residences of wealthy families are surrounded by whitewashed brick walls with horse heads at the corners: in the old days, the walls blocked the path of fire during frequent fires. Later they were decorated with decorative motifs. The buildings are covered with black tiles, and the windows are high and narrow: so the locals protected their property from thieves, and bored wives – from unnecessary temptation.
The main entrance to the estate is usually richly decorated with inserts of carved stone and equipped with massive stone pillars in the form of drums or mirrors. Behind it, a courtyard opens, illuminated from above through a rectangular light well- Tianjin. Doors are a separate story: it is claimed that in the old days the owner could spend 1000 silver taels on carved jambs and arched cornice, and only 4 taels on the door itself.
Many houses in Huizhou are two-storied: the ceilings of the upper floor are supported by wooden pillars, and all rooms are decorated with carved wooden panels. The decor of the house is full of hidden meaning. In the living room, the visitor’s gaze is immediately attracted by several objects. Round tables are divided into two halves. If they are shifted— the owner of the house can receive a guest. If not— the presence of an outsider man in the house is undesirable. On a special shelf there is a clock, a vase and a mirror. They symbolize the peace and harmony reigning in the family: the names of the layer “mirror” and “vase” in Chinese are consonant with the words jing and ping, and the striking of the clock was considered beneficial.
Another characteristic element of the local architecture is the ornate paifan or pailou arches, erected by imperial decree in memory of the merits of outstanding persons. Payfan were built in honor of men. pilow – in honor of virtuous women. Similar arches are found all over China, but in Huizhou they are especially pompous. The thing is. that in Confucian society, merchants occupied the lowest level, and the granted right to build an arch increased the prestige of the family. Payfan were always built over the road so that every passerby could pay their respects. Pilow. on the contrary, they were built on the sidelines, since the social status of women was lower.
In the heart of the mountains lurks the charming village of Qiyuncun, where you can have a snack in a restaurant, get a price for local souvenirs and chat with friendly locals.
There is an old saying in Anhui: “If you spoil your karma, you will certainly be born in Huizhou in the next life: you will live in your father’s house until you are 13-14 years old — and you will perish in a foreign land.” In the old days, local merchants conducted a successful trade in timber, tea and salt, and also kept pawnshops all over China. The price for prosperity was the need to live for years apart from family and native places. There was always not enough land in the mountains, so a 13-14-year-old boy was sent “to people”. Since then, he has seen his family, at best, once a year. Surprisingly, the attachment to the motherland only grew from this: the magnificent residences of rich families and the largest ancestral temples in China were built with money sent from afar.
The villages scattered on the border of southern Anhui and northern Jiangxi are particularly attractive – first of all, thanks to green fields, bamboo groves, pine trees and a palisade of mountains that create a spectacular background.