Originated in the period of the Qin （221--206BC） and Han （206 BC--220 AD）
Dynasties and experienced its heyday in the Sui （581--618AD） and Tang （618--907AD） Dynasties, Qujiang Lake culture has a very long history.
The imperial court of the Qin Dynasty established a famous royal garden by making full use of the low wetland, the beautiful mountain and the lake in Qujiang Area.
Qujiang Area went into its prosperous period in the Tang Dynasty.It was cut out as the royal garden --the Lotus Garden, was put up at the same time with Ziyun Tower Block and Caixia（Rosy Cloud） Pavilion inside. Emperor Minghuang of the Tang Dynasty would always go at the head of hundreds of officials and concubines to Ziyun Tower Block on the day of Qujiang Fair and enjoyed the fair with local people. All the streets in the Tang Chang'an city were vacant because people were all out in Qujiang indulged in wining and dining and looking for fun. This exemplified the great prosperity of the Tang Dynasty.
Tang Dynasty Reconstruction Project is one of the largest tourist programs in the northwest of China. It covers an area of 1,000 mu （about 165 acres） and is established with an investment of 1.2 billion Yuan. Located to the north of the original Tang Dynasty Lotus Garden site, the present Tang Paradise is the first theme park fully demonstrating the charm and grandeur of the royal garden in Tang Dynasty. It includes the attractions of Ziyun Tower Block, Elegant Lady Area, Imperial Banquet Hall, Fanglin Fragrant Garden, Phoenix Theater, Apricot Garden, Lu Yu Teahouse, Tang Marketplace and the Floating-drink at Qujiang Lake. The Tang Paradise boasts many new records: the largest show on water screen in the world; the first theme park of five senses （sight, sound, taste, touch and smell senses）； the biggest out-door fragrance project in the world and the biggest reproduction of the Tang royal garden complex in China. Tang Paradise is a comprehensive resort center which attracts people from different walks of life. With it's surprising charm it has become a must see attraction in Xi'an.
Ziyun Tower Block
According to the historical records, Ziyun Tower Block was built in the 14th year of the Kaiyuan period （726AD）。 At that time, Emperor Minghuang of the Tang Dynasty would always ascend the building on the day of Qujiang Fair. He enjoyed singing, dancing and bestowed banquet to his ministers in it. He also liked to take a look behind the rail at the boisterous locals outside the resort wall and enjoyed the festive atmosphere. At the same time, people outside were also eager to take the chance to see their emperor. Now Ziyun Tower Block is rebuilt in the center of the garden based on the description of it in the historical records. It is also the most important Tang Dynasty style complex in the garden. There are four stories in the main building with a floor space of 8,632 square meters.
Sculptures and mural paintings reflecting the prosperous time in the Zhenguan period （627--649AD）， the model of Chang'an City of Tang Dynasty and the top-class cultural relics from Tang are displayed on the first floor of the building.
On the second floor is a large group of colorful sculptures depicting the scene of a royal banquet bestowed by the emperor for distinguished guests both from home and abroad. There are also some mural paintings displaying the great prosperity of the Tang Dynast on this floor.
On the third floor is a showroom where people can appreciate the singing and dancing of the Tang Dynasty while sipping the fragrant tea.
There is a copper Ruyi（as you wish）tower with the height of 8 meters in the center on the fourth floor. Here one can enjoy all sorts of entertainments featuring the culture of the Tang Dynasty.
Tang Poem Valley
The Tang Poem Valley with a total length of 120 meters is a comprehensive, poem-themed spot, manifesting the prime of the Tang Dynasty culture.
This is a unique dreamland of man-made and natural scenery, with rich spiritual connotations, where the famous calligraphists wrote them down and then had them inscribed on the cliff. Official documents, Chinese seals, tile patterns and other cultural forms also supplement it.
The Soul of Poetry
Poetry composed in the Tang Dynasty is the gem of classic poems in ancient China. It is also the shining pearl among the legacies of the world.
The capital city of Chang'an in the Tang Dynasty was a popular international metropolis as attractive as Rome in the west at that time. Chang'an was not only the political center of the Tang Dynasty, but also the center of poetry at that time. Many poets gathered here like the glistening stars in the evening sky. Over two thousand three hundred poets composed more than forty-eight thousand poems in the Tang Dynasty. These poems are deeply loved by people in different periods of time and will continue to be appreciated by generations to come. They have already become part of the national characteristics and the national spirit. This cultural phenomenon is rarely seen in the history of other countries. Tang Dynasty is the climax of poetry composing in the history of Chinese poems.
This is a group of sculptures of famous poets from the Tang Dynasty. They are sculpted and arranged at different points on a man-made mountain that occupies an area of 1,480 square meters. This group of sculptures consumes the most stone among all the group sculptures in China so far. The biggest standing sculpture here is 9 meters high. The sculptures on the man-made mountain symbolize the significance of poetry in the literature of the Tang Dynasty and the unparalleled level of literature art approached by the famous poets of the Tang Dynasty.
Caixia （Rosy Cloud） Pavilion
According to the historical record, Caixia Pavilion and Ziyun Tower Block were originally built in the Lotus Garden in Kaiyuan period （713---741AD） of the Tang Dynasty.
The reconstructed pavilion is connected with the Elegant Lady Area and is joined with some pavilions and passageways; the whole area is quite outstanding at the same time. It starts from north and goes all the way to the east along the lake. For some sections, it runs along the lake; and for other sections, it runs across the lake right in the center. The whole area looks like a strip of colorful cloud. The total length of it is 270 meters. It is the extension of the theme of the Elegant Lady Area.
The fine poetry and true-to-life drawings about over one hundred prominent ladies of the Tang Dynasty in the passageways vividly expose the glamour of the women and their legendary experiences. It is indeed a legend passageway about the Tang Dynasty
Elegant Lady Area
The Elegant Lady Area consists of a group of Tang-style buildings with Wangchun （Fascinating Spring） Pavilion in the center. The theme of the show area fully demonstrates the unconstrained spirit of the women in the Tang Dynasty.
Women of the Tang Dynasty were active, progressive, optimistic and confident. They even put on man's attire and went out watching lantern-shows, going for spring outings, treading on the green, playing on the swing and playing polo game. They also pursued their loved ones actively and daringly. In terms of characteristics, women of the Tang Dynasty were very peculiar in women's history of China. Among them, Empress Wu Zetian, Lady Shangguan, and Princess Taiping are the most representative historical figures.
The main building of the show area has three stories and covers an area of 3,383 square meters.
The first floor is illustrated with mural paintings, models and exhibits that show the clothing culture of women in the Tang Dynasty.
On the second floor are some mural paintings; models and life-like sculptures that demonstrate how important women were in the Tang Dynasty political affairs.
In the showroom on the third floor are also some mural paintings and models that depict the theme of love of the Tang Dynasty through special technology of sound and light.
Shows of different themes about the Tang Dynasty women will also be held occasionally here.
The pavilion is on the opposite side of the Ziyun （Purple Cloud） Tower Block with the lake in between. The name of the pavilion derives from the story written by Xue Yongruo of the Tang Dynasty. As the story goes, one day, three poets of the Tang Dynasty, namely Wang Changling, Gao Shi and Wang Zhihuan, came to the pavilion for a drink. While enjoying the drinks, there came several singsong girls. The three poets betted on whose poems would be adapted into songs most by the girls. After some time, no singsong girls ever sang any poem by Wang Zhihuan. The poet felt so embarrassed that he pointed to the most beautiful girl and said:“ I bet she will put my poem into her song.” Just as the poet expected, the girl sang the ever-lasting lines by Wang Zhihuan: “Far into the distance the Yellow River flows down, knife-cut towering mountains stand behind the desolate town”. After this, the girls joined the poets and they all went to the table drinking joyfully for the rest of the day.
Later this anecdote became popular in the poetry circle and was fondly called “The Bet at the Flag Pavilion”.
Spring Outing of Elegant Ladies
On the north bank of the Tang Paradise in the garden are a group of sculptures. It covers an area of 1,820 square meters. These sculptures show the elegant ladies in different postures and are scattered along the lawn beside the pond. The creation is based on the description of a poem written by a poet called Du Fu of the Tang Dynasty. “So fresh is the air in spring, swarms of elegant ladies at the waterfront are seen.” The creation also comes from the traditional practice of treading on the green in the Tang Dynasty.
Apricot GardenThe Apricot Garden named in this way is due to the fact that there used to be many apricot trees here in the Tang Dynasty. It was a quite famous garden at that time. People came to appreciate the flowers on apricot trees upon the blossom time in the Tang Dynasty. Apricot Garden was also the place where the successful candidates of the imperial civil examination would give banquets to celebrate their success. According to the historical records, there were all together 155 Zhuang Yuan （people who won the first position in the imperial civil examination） in the Tang Dynasty. Sun Fujia was the first when the Tang Emperor Gaozu was in power. There was a complete historical record about him in the Tang Dynasty.
The reconstructed Apricot Garden is in the Tang courtyard style. It covers an area of 2,134 square meters. Now the garden is used to hold banquets in the typical style of the Tang Dynasty. It exemplifies the imperial exam culture of the Tang.
Lu Yu Teahouse
Chinese tea culture has a very long history. It can be traced back to the ancient legendary figure Shennong about 5,000 years ago. At that time, tea was used as medicine. Later it was used for sacrifice and the ingredient for making porridge. After that, people boiled tea in hot water and then drank it. Eventually people immersed tea in the hot boiled water for a moment like what they do now and then enjoy it.
The records of tea in China could be traced back as early as the beginning of the Western Zhou Dynasty （1046---771BC）。 Afterwards people put down many documents concerning tea. What can be seen now are just some incomplete articles from different times in the past. It was not until the middle of the Tang Dynasty that the first book on tea entitled “On Tea” was written by Lu Yu, a tea scholar. It was the first book about tea in the world. It put an end to the embarrassing situation----no books about tea. On Tea is a comprehensive book that tells us about the history of tea production, its origin, current situation, production skills, the way of drinking tea and the theory of tea preparing. It is an epoch-making book about tea study.
This is a typical Tang courtyard-style architectural complex with a total area of 1,310 square meters. The teahouse is established here representing the rich and profound tea culture of the Tang Dynasty. There are three different kinds of tea ceremonies: the royal teahouse, the teahouse for literary men, and the teahouse for the ordinary. People can appreciate the tea serving ceremony in distinctive styles and tea sets in unique shapes.
The Children's Playground is located to the north of the West Gate. The theme of it is centered on “Culture for the Gifted ”. It displays the advanced technology of the Tang Dynasty through the interesting and instructive entertainments. There were many gifted children in the Tang Dynasty. The varied scenes tell us not only the stories of those gifted children, but also their legends. At the same time, the place demonstrates the big range of entertainments for children in the Tang Dynasty, such as the Hu Zizhai（Tiger Stockade Village）， the Water Wheel, the Automatic Cooling Pavilion, the Prominent Tang Poets Yuan Zhen and Bai Juyi Roaming Qujiang in Dream and the legendary stories of four Tang gifted children.
Imperial Banquet Hall
There was a famous banquet named “Shaowei （burning the tail） Banquet”. Short after the high officials were appointed in the Tang Dynasty, they would treat the emperor with carefully prepared delicacies. The delicacies were called “burning the tail”. Usually there were fifty-eight different kinds of expansive dishes offered at the banquet.
Lying to the north of the West Gate, the Imperial Banquet Hall has a total area of 15,600 square meters. It is a place demonstrating the culture of eating and drinking in the Tang Dynasty. It offers fine food, beautiful table wares, intoxicating scenery and melodies. It is a special place cut out for people to drink and eat in the royal garden. People can come here for parties and royal style banquets either for themselves or for business.
Floating-drink at Qujiang Lake
This was a natural resort for literary men to relax over liquor. It appeared as early as the Eastern Jin Dynasty （317--420AD）， flourished in the Tang Dynasty, continued into the Song Dynasty and influenced the people in modern times. In the Tang Dynasty, rowing boat over drinks floating on the river water at Qujiang lake was one of the eight renowned beautiful scenes. This place also used to be the venue for emperors of the Tang Dynasty to bestow banquets to the scholars. The scholars got together here and had non-stop drinking of wine; teased one another and expressed their ambitions. The formation of “wine culture”, to a certain degree, is also one in which man of letters tried to explore the meaning of life and convey their sensation through poems while drinking wine.
芙蓉园内的凤鸣九天剧院位于园区南门北面，面积5830平方米， 可容纳600名观众， 并设有贵宾休息厅等辅助空间， 剧院金碧辉煌、皇室风范，是一个蕴涵盛唐风韵的现代化设施一流的皇家内苑式剧院，是全园盛唐文化主题演出的核心表演区。
Entertainment was very popular in the Tang Dynasty. Tang Emperor Xuan Zong loved opera so much that sometimes he went to the royal dramatist-training theatre world to show the performers how to do it. Out of delight, he even performed in the theatric costume occasionally, so the later traditional opera artists call them disciples of Theatre World. There were many theaters on a large scale in Chang'an of the Tang Dynasty. Many operas were on show in different theaters at the same time. Each theater could hold lots of audience. As the records describe, a small theater in the Tang Dynasty could seat over one thousand official audience and entertain them with over one hundred operas.
Facing the South Gate, the theater covers an area of 5,830 square meters. It has a capacity of holding 600 audiences at a time. There is a VIP lounge and some auxiliary places for audiences inside. The theatre is magnificent-looking and boasts a typical royal style of the Tang Dynasty. It is a representative in-the-garden royal theatre with the glamour of the Tang Dynasty in its prime period. It has very modern and first-class equipments and facilities. It is the most important performing place with the theme of prime Tang culture.
The most impressive program in the repertoire is the song-dance-drama “Return to the Great Tang in Dream”. It is put on show by the best play-write, best choreographer and best director of China currently. It shows the splendid grandeur and spiritual broadness of the prime period in the Tang Dynasty with the help of modern artistic expression and the all-new visual and audio effect.
Synopsis of the dance drama
*Prelude: Waking from a Dream is a disclosure of Tang Dynasty's Flourishing Age to make you enjoy the odd experiences in passing time and space.
A modern guider steps on the stage and then is surrounded by multicolored splendid camlets. You'll be brought deep into the dream and your soul is returned to the Tang Dynasty's Flourishing Age.
*Scene 1: Dance of Imperial Concubines in Fantastic and splendid camlets
Flying fairies in Dunhuang Mural slowly rise with music and varying light, Concubine Yang in multicoloured Splendid camlets dances on the stage like a fairy, dazzling or stunning in effect.
* Scene 2: Meeting with Emperor Qin in Dream to stand out Tang Dynasty's army portliness
Flags, shield battle array, drum sound of Tangming King, short swords and long daggers represent a strong Tang Dynasty's army portliness.
* Scene 3: Concubine Yang dressed in vaporous muslin dances in a bath alone; Tangming King comes to dance with her together, deducting an ancient much-told story.
* Scene 4: A Dream in Western Regions to represent a great bosom
Fervent Huxuan dance, pretty Jie Drum dance, boorish Huteng Double Sword dance,
Indian Snake dance accompanied by Qiang flute and Hu hamlet celebrate the millennium together.
* Scene 5: Travel in Qu River to celebrate the millennium
Enchanting Spring, bright river water, Qu River and Yan Pagoda facing with each other, amazing street martial arts, humourous sideshows, naive big-head moppets, beautiful maids wandering on spring grass, voluminous grass styles and ancient football performance in high spirit.
* Scene 6: Back to the Grand Tang Dynasty in Dream, pray for blessings at Tang Dynasty's Grand Ceremony
Tangming King and his wife Yang in chairs lead their officers to pray for blessings to their peopole. Meanwhile, many beautiful women in Tang dresses step on the palace to show Chinese fashions. Finally, the whole performance ends in songs and under skyrockets.
There was an East Market and a West Market in the Tang Chang'an city. The West Market was an international one with a lot of foreigners living around. Many local Chinese officials were living around the East Market which was not as busy as the West Market.
The Tang Marketplace is located in the south of the garden and composed of markets, the tribute gift street and theater square. It covers an area of 12,122 square meters. This is a microcosm of East Market and West Market of Chang'an in the Tang Dynasty that presents the bustling commercial activities between Chinese and foreign traders in the Tang Dynasty. People can observe and experience the social life in the style of the Tang Dynasty on the two markets and in the theater. It is also a great chance for people to come and appreciate the uncommon workmanship of crafts, the folk arts, local operas from different parts of the country, foods and drinks, tea and liquor, paintings and calligraphy. It is one of the most attractive entertainment and shopping centers in Xi'an.
Fanglin Fragrant Garden
Located in the east of the resort, the Fanglin Fragrant Garden is a guesthouse in the royal style of the Tang Dynasty and built in the grove that is made in a very classic way. It is a place for business people and holidaymakers with all sorts of entertainment facilities. It has 63 suites and a floor space of about 13,199 square meters.
The main building is put up in the frugal style of the Tang Dynasty. It is connected with groups of low buildings by passageways. Passageways also join different groups of the low buildings. The living quarter is decorated with some pavilions and man-made stone plants.
Built up for setting off the fireworks, the Fireworks Island is a scenic attraction in the center of the lake. Surrounding it are varieties of flowers and lush grown grassland. The shades of trees are swaying in the wind under the sky with scarce clouds during the day. In the evening, the island radiates beautifully dazzling lights. The performance of fireworks comes in harmony with the theme of the park.
On the Tang Paradise
------------- By Ping'wa, Jia
Qujiang area has always being regarded as a holy place of Xi'an. As early as in the Qin, Han and Sui dynasties, amusement parks had been built here. In the Tang Dynasty, it undoubtedly became the imperial courtyards and a public scenic spot. However, by the end of the Tang Dynasty, all the buildings and plantations had been ruined by the war fire. Barren mountains and dead water was taken into a land of deserted place. At the beginning of the new century, Tang Paradise has been rebuilt in the north of Qujiang Lake covering a land area of 999 mu and water area 333 mu respectively with a total construction area 0.1 million square meters. All the buildings created with marvelous innovation and exquisite craftsmanship totally takes one's breath away.
Tang Paradise has hills in its south and water in its north. Going from Royal Garden Gate, you come to the Lotus Bridge, then encounter the sunlight and face the hills ahead. Down along the pond and slopes, you are going further and further with beautiful trees and plants on both sides in fresh and rich colors, it seems that they have been dyed by each other. Under the trees is peculiar grass, which bestows you a romantic sentiment. Hills are slanting from the east to the west with Ziyun （Purple Cloud） Tower Block on one side. Towers, pavilions and bridges are arranged in an insufferably arrogant manner. Standing by the window, you will find rosy clouds coming from Qinling Mountains and white clouds are within your reach. Looking back at the lake in the north, mists and puff of water come into your eyes with aigrettes flocking and departing in the water. On the other side lies Elegant Lady Area, which with quite another view. One is like a dragon lingering on top of the hill, the other like a phoenix, resting aside the water. It seems that both castles are intending to converse; or seems they are recalling memories of thousands of years ago. Suddenly, astringed and woodwind music approaches eardrums from the hills behind. Chasing the sounds, you come to the south of garden, pass by the verandah, go to the Phoenix Pond by boat, you will find bamboo shoots come from the squeezing stones and lotus flowers are as high as the bridge. Really, theaters are just behind you: Tang Marketplace and Floating-drink at Qujiang Lake; Imperial Banquet Hall with people hustling and bustling. What a luxury! Winding over the hills, find a quiet place, you may find gray sparrows as big as an egg, jumping and landing like throwing stones. Chasing the sparrows into a forest, you will find peach trees are blossoming in various colors. When flying away, you just find that those are butterflies. Coming from the small bridge over the brook, you now approach the valley on which engraved Tang poems. A group of children are babbling the poems. Then, a duck comes into your eye, wagging its head and tail. Picking up the duck and resting on a piece of stone, then an idea hits upon: this is an ideal place to build a house, in which I can tame deer and cranes; appreciate the moon and fishing. What a romantic place it is. Being immensely pleased with such an idea, a piece of cloud appears, accompanied with drizzling rainfall, touching my face but cannot soak my clothes. Jumping and running into a hall, but I cannot find the way out. Water is running from this courtyard to that courtyard, young bamboos are shielding the walls. Looking back suddenly, there is the long corridor winding from south to the north around the lake. Walking, pausing now and then, pavilions are built against the hills, slopes, banks and water sometimes dense, sometimes sparse. Holding the railing to stroke the water in the lake, it is impossible to scoop up, but you will enjoy the curled lotus leaves, water waves and golden fish flocking inside the water, it seems that a piece of red cloud has been spread on the bottom of the lake. Rowing boat to the island in the center of the lake, an aged stone meets your eyesight on which grows mosses the size of a piece of coin. The branches of plum trees touch the eaves of the pavilion. Standing by the pavilion, you can appreciate pi'pa music played by a lady. Suddenly, lake wrinkles just like somebody is shaking the silk. It seems that the island is removing. Having a cup of tea, sip slowly till dusk. Then row the boat to the north bank. Under the Elegant Lady Area, outside of the Spring Outing of Elegant Ladies, a group of girls are in fashionable clothes. Some are playing in the water; some are sitting on the grass. Flowers and trees are living creatures, too. These ladies are enjoying the sightseeing and they are the sightseeing in the eye of me! Till the sky falls down its canopy, people will enjoy the water-screen films and firework performance.
Visiting Tang Paradise for her great fame, but I forget to go home. Why is it so attractive as to shock our compatriots, as well as foreign friends? Because it is not merely a freehand brushwork of Chinese painting, but a comprehensive collection of things, which are of, Tang characteristics, such as emperors, poems, music and dances, fairs, Buddhism, food, women, apricot gardens, tea and wine, science and technologies etc. Architects are bestowing these with a specific theme, which makes these themes the sources of Chinese civilization. Just as the ancient people said: “It is so lucky for Tang Dynasty to take Chang'an as its capital city; and it is equally lucky for Chang'an city to hold such a scenic spot as Qujiang.” For thousands of years, Chinese people have never been expecting their country being prosperous and themselves being so leisurely and elegant as today. Tang Paradise has embodied the grandeur of the Tang Dynasty, which transmits an enthusiastic spirit and optimistic pursuit. People will become lost if they lack spirit; a city will decline if it lacks spirit and a nation will collapse if it lacks spirit. Tang Paradise has been built in Xi'an, which brings confidence and self-reliance; there is no reason why China will not become prosperous?