Yellow Crane Tower

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The modern Yellow Crane Tower built in 1985
Yellow Crane Tower
Yellow Crane Tower (Chinese characters).svg
"Yellow Crane Tower" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese 黄鹤楼
Traditional Chinese 黃鶴樓
The Yellow Crane Tower in 1871.
View to the west with Tortoise Hill and the Tortoise Mountain TV Tower

Yellow Crane Tower (Chinese: 黄鹤楼; pinyin: Huáng hè lóu) is a traditional Chinese tower located in Wuhan, in central China. The current structure was built in 1981, but the tower has existed in various forms since at least AD 223. The current Yellow Crane Tower is situated on Sheshan (Snake Hill), one kilometer away from the original site. It is on the bank of the Yangtze River in Wuchang District, Wuhan, in the Hubei province of central China.


View to the east from the Yellow Crane Tower. Snake Hill is in the middle and the red-brick compound of the Wuchang Uprising memorial is to the right

The original site of the tower was on the Yellow Crane Jetty, a location situated west of Xiakou. The Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties notes that after Sun Quan, founder of the kingdom of Eastern Wu, built the fort of Xiakou, a tower was constructed at this location and named after the Yellow Crane Jetty. [1]

The tower has been destroyed many times, both by warfare and by fire. In the Ming and Qing dynasties alone, the tower was destroyed and rebuilt seven times and was repaired on ten separate occasions. The last tower at the original site was built in 1868 and destroyed in 1884. In 1957, the Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge was built with one trestle of the bridge on the Yellow Crane Tower's site. In 1981, the Wuhan City Government rebuilt the tower at a new location, about 1 km (0.62 mi) from the original site. The current tower was completed in 1985.[2]


There are at least two legends related to the Yellow Crane Tower. In the first, an Immortal (仙人) named Wang Zi'an (王子安) rode away from Snake Mountain on a yellow crane and a tower was later built in commemoration of this story. In the second legend, Fei Wenyi (费文祎) becomes immortal and rides a yellow crane, often stopping on Snake Hill to take a rest.[3]

The tower is also a sacred site of Taoism. Lü Dongbin is said to ascend to heaven from here.[4]


Poem by Cui Hao[edit]

Yellow Crane Tower was made famous by an 8th-century poem written by Cui Hao, titled "Yellow Crane Tower" (黄鹤楼).[5] The original text of the poem is shown below:


A modern English translation is:

Long ago one's gone riding the yellow crane,[6] all that remained is the Yellow Crane Tower.
Once the yellow crane left it will never return, for one thousand years the clouds wandered carelessly.
The clear river reflects each Hanyang tree, fragrant grasses lushly grow on Parrot Island.[7]
At sunset, which direction leads to my hometown? One could not help feeling melancholy along the misty river.

Poem by Li Bai[edit]

There are other famous poems about the Yellow Crane Tower by Li Bai. One was written on the occasion of Bai parting with his friend and poetic colleague, Meng Haoran. The poem is titled "Seeing off Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower" (黄鹤楼送孟浩然之广陵), and is shown in its original form below:


A modern English translation is:

My old friends said goodbye to the west, here at Yellow Crane Tower,
In the third month's cloud of willow blossoms, he's going down to Yangzhou.
The lonely sail is a distant shadow, on the edge of a blue emptiness,
All I see is the Yangtze River flow to the far horizon.

Modern Association With Poetry[edit]

As of 1988, one of the top floors in the Yellow Crane Tower is reserved for visiting poets of note, and the general public is only allowed to view it from the outside. This floor is fully equipped with desks, chairs, papers, brushes and inks.


The top of the tower has a broad view of its surroundings and the Yangtze River. Yellow Crane Tower is considered one of the Four Great Towers of China. In its modern version, it has the appearance of an ancient tower but is built of modern materials, including an elevator.[8] Each level has its own display. To the east on the hill, a large temple bell may be rung by tourists for a small fee. There are court dances in the western yard during the week-long celebration of China's National Day (October 1). The tower is classified as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties (元和郡縣圖志), Li, Jifu, and He, Cijun (李吉甫 賀次君). 1983. Zhongguo gu dai di li zong zhi cong kan (中國古代地理總志叢刊). Beijing: Zhong hua shu ju (中華書局 : 新華書店北京發行所發行).
  2. ^ Fang Wang (14 April 2016). Geo-Architecture and Landscape in China’s Geographic and Historic Context: Volume 1 Geo-Architecture Wandering in the Landscape. Springer. pp. 43–. ISBN 978-981-10-0483-4. 
  3. ^ Wan: The source of the Wang Zi'an legend is 《南齐书·州郡志》. The Fei Wenyi legend is from 《太平寰宇记》. Pages 43.
  4. ^ Images of the Immortal: The Cult of Lü Dongbin at the Palace of Eternal Joy by Paul R. Katz, University of Hawaii Press, 1999, page 80
  5. ^ Wan: Page 42.
  6. ^ Wan: Several Tang sources use "cloud" (白云) rather than "yellow crane" here. The use of "yellow crane" is a later change. Page 43.
  7. ^ Wan: Parrot Island was a sandbar in the middle of the river that has since disappeared. Page 43.
  8. ^ Li Shiqiao (29 April 2014). Understanding the Chinese City. SAGE Publications. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-1-4739-0539-9. 
  9. ^ "AAAAA Scenic Areas". China National Tourism Administration. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 30°32′49″N 114°17′49″E / 30.54694°N 114.29694°E / 30.54694; 114.29694