For centuries, the mountains of Wudang have been known as an important centre of Taoism, especially famous for its Taoist versions of martial arts, called Wudangquan.
The first site of worship—the Five Dragon Temple—was constructed at the behest of emperor Taizong in the early Tang Dynasty (618–907). Further structures were added during the Song and Yuan dynasties, while the largest complex on the mountain was built during the Ming Dynasty (14th–17th centuries) as emperor Zhu Di claimed to enjoy the protection of the Taoist god Zhenwu. Temples regularly had to be rebuild, and not all survived; the oldest extant structures are the Golden Shrine and the Ancient Bronze Shrine, made in 1307. Other noted structures include Nanyang Palace (built in 1285-1310 and extended in 1312), the stone-walled Forbidden City at the peak (built in 1419), and the Purple Cloud Temple (built in 1119-26, rebuilt in 1413 and extended in 1803-20).
On January 19, 2003, the 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace at the Wudang Mountains was accidentally burned down by an employee of a martial arts school. A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square metres to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire, and so escaped destruction in the inferno.
At the first national martial arts tournament organized by the Central Guoshu Institute in 1928, participants were separated into practitioners of "Shaolin" and "Wudang" styles. Styles considered to belong to the latter group - called Wudangquan - are those with a strong element of Taoist neidan exercises. Typical examples of Wudangquan are Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. According to legend, Taijiquan was created by the Taoist hermit Zhang Sanfeng, who lived in the Wudang mountains.
Wudangquan has been partly reformed to fit the PRC sport and health promotion program. The third biannual Traditional Wushu Festival was held in Wudang Mountains from October 28 to November 2, 2008.
^ abcRoad Atlas of Hubei (湖北省公路里程地图册; Hubei Sheng Gonglu Licheng Dituce), published by 中国地图出版社 SinoMaps Press, 2007, ISBN 978-7-5031-4380-9. Page 11 (Shiyan City), and the map of the Wudangshan world heritage area, within the back cover.