The Marco Polo Bridge, Beijing's oldest bridge, became world famous because it was a Japanese attack on the bridge which started the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. The bridge was built in 1189 by the Jin Dynasty Shizong Emperor. Damaged by floods it was restored in 1444 and 1698. It has eleven arches and spans over a dried up Yongding River in south-west Beijing. The river was initially called Wuding River meaning Instability River because of its surging irregular water flow. It is was renamed Yongding River meaning Eternally Stable River by the Kangxi Emperor. Apparently the river was flowing until recent years.
Lugou Qiao, also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, is one of earliest segmented stone arch bridge about 16 km in the outside of Beijing
The bridge is 260 meters long and has 250 marble balustrades supporting 485 carved stone lions. First built in 1192, the original arches were washed away in the 17th century. The bridge is a composite of different eras, widened in 1969 to span the Yongding River near the town of Wanping.
In the Mingchang period (1190-1208) of the Jin dynasty, the bridge was listed into the "Eight Scenic Spots of Yanjing (Beijing)" under the title "Lugou Xiaoyue" (Moon Over Lugou at Daybreak), which has remained throughout the Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties.
In 1751, Emperor Qianlong of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) personally edited the poetic titles for the 8 views, and wrote the inscriptions for the steles, including the "Lugou Xiaoyue" tablet which still stands by the bridge.
The Luguo Bridge has been standing over the Yongding River for 800 years. The entire bridge is made of huge granite blocks, with carved stone lions crouched along the railings on both sides. No two lions are alike, and smaller carved lions can be found strategically placed on and beside them.
In ancient times the bridge was renowned for its spectacular views of the moon during the Mid-autumn Festival.
On July 7th, 1937, the bridge featured again in China's history when the Japanese Kwantung Army began its war to conquer China. It is known for the "Marco Polo Bridge Incident". During the next 8 years, Japan occupied most of China and killed millions of Chinese.
On July 7, 1937, Japanese troops illegally occupied a railway junction near Wanping and fighting erupted. This is considered by many to be the date when the war between China and Japan began. The war ended with the end of WWII.