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Lugou Qiao - Marco Polo Bridge

                           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.

The Park is a pleasant place despite this gory history and is conveniently central. One of the best times to visit is at dusk, when the sun-sets over the red roofs of the Imperial Palace creating a gorgeous warm glow over the city.

The number of stone lions on Lugou Bridge remains a puzzle

Four ornamental columns each 4.65 meters (15 feet) high and a white marble stele stand at the ends of the bridge. One stele records the reconstruction of the bridge by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1698.The other stele bears calligraphy by Emperor Qianlong, the grandson of Kangxi. It reads 'Morning moon over Lugou', and for the 700 years since its completion, the bridge has been a well known scenic spot in Beijing.

As well as being famed for its aesthetic features, Lugou Bridge is also considered to be an architectural masterpiece. It is built of solid granite, with a large central arch flanked by ten smaller ones. Each of the ten piers is protected by triangular iron pillars that have been installed to prevent by flood and ice.

However, Lugou Bridge holds a very special place in the modern history of China, and more for painful memories rather than either its stunning beauty or amazing architectural achievement. It was here on the Marco Polo Bridge that the eight-year-long War of Resistance against the Imperial Japanese Army commenced on the 7th July 1937, that culminated with the surrender of Japan in 1945. For further information in this connection, please see The Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre.

Admission Fee: CNY 28
Opening Hours: 07:10 to 18:00
Recommended Time for a Visit: One hour
Bus Route: 309,339

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