Yellow Crane Tower

Coordinates: 30°32′49″N 114°17′49″E / 30.54694°N 114.29694°E / 30.54694; 114.29694
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The modern Yellow Crane Tower, rebuilt from 1981 to 1985
Yellow Crane Tower
"Yellow Crane Tower" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese characters
Simplified Chinese黄鹤楼
Traditional Chinese黃鶴樓
Pow Kee Photographers Studio. Yellow Crane Tower, Wuhan. 1870s. Albumen silver print. The Loewentheil Photography of China Collection
View to the west with Tortoise Hill and the Tortoise Mountain TV Tower

Yellow Crane Tower (simplified Chinese: 黄鹤楼; traditional Chinese: 黃鶴樓; pinyin: Huánghè Lóu) is a traditional Chinese tower located in Wuhan. The current structure was built from 1981 to 1985, but the tower has existed in various forms from as early as AD 223. The current Yellow Crane Tower is 51.4 m (169 ft) high and covers an area of 3,219 m2 (34,650 sq ft). It is situated on Snake Hill (蛇山), one kilometer away from the original site, on the banks of the Yangtze River in Wuchang District.


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 Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties, written almost 600 years after the construction of the tower, notes that after Sun Quan, founder of the kingdom of Eastern Wu, built the fort of Xiakou in 223, a tower was constructed at/on the Yellow Crane Jetty, west of Xiakou, and hence its name.[1][2]

The tower has been destroyed twelve times, both by warfare and by fire, in the Ming and Qing dynasties and was repaired on ten separate occasions. The last tower at the original site was built in 1868 and destroyed in 1884. In 1907, a new tower was built near the site of the Yellow Crane Tower. Zhang Zhidong proposed "Aolüe Tower" (Chinese: 奧略樓; pinyin: Àolüè lóu) as the name of this tower and wrote an antithetical couplet for it.[3] 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 commenced reconstruction of the tower at a new location, about 1 km (0.62 mi) from the original site, and it was completed in 1985.[4]

Relic Protection[edit]

The Sacred Stupa (Chinese: 胜像宝塔; pinyin: Shèngxiàng Bǎotǎ) is 9.36 meters high and 5.68 meters wide. It is built with external stone and internal bricks, mainly stone masonry. A small amount of bricks are used in the internal tower room. It is the oldest and most complete single building preserved on the former site of the Yellow Crane Tower. The Sacred Stupa is a stupa of Tibetan Buddhism, and it is an example of the first type of stupa after Buddhism was brought from India to China. It is the only existing Lama-style white stupa in Wuhan, and it provides important physical materials for studying the history and religion of the historical and cultural significance of Wuhan in the late Yuan and early Ming Dynasties.


Yellow Crane Tower, by An Zhengwen during the Ming dynasty

Notwithstanding the tower's current location on Snake Hill being unrelated to its original location one kilometre away, the two popular legends related to it invoke the hill. 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 Yi becomes immortal and rides a yellow crane, often stopping on Snake Hill to take a rest.[5]

The tower is also a sacred site of Taoism. Lü Dongbin is said to have ascended to heaven from here.[6] There is a small cave in the hill beneath the tower with Lü Dongbin statue. The cave has been called Lü Zu Dong,[citation needed] literately meaning cave of Lü Dongbin.


Poem by Cui Hao[edit]

Yellow Crane Tower was made famous by an 8th-century poem written by Cui Hao, titled "Yellow Crane Tower" (黃鶴樓).[7] The original text of the poem is shown below:

昔人已乘黃鶴去, 此地空餘黃鶴樓。
黃鶴一去不復返, 白雲千載空悠悠。
晴川歷歷漢陽樹, 芳草萋萋鸚鵡洲。
日暮鄉關何處是, 煙波江上使人愁。

A modern English translation is:

Long ago one's gone riding the yellow crane,[8] 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.[9]
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 Li Bai parting with his friend and poetic colleague, Meng Haoran. The poem is titled "Seeing off Meng Haoran for Guangling at Yellow Crane Tower" (黃鶴樓送孟浩然之廣陵), and is shown in its original form below:


A modern English translation is:[10]

My old friend bids farewell to me in the west at Yellow Crane Tower.
Amid March's mist and flowers he goes down to Yangzhou.
The distant image of his lonely sail disappears in the blue sky,
And all I see is the Long River flowing to the edge of sky.


The tower and its surroundings have been marked as Yellow Crane Tower Park. There are tour services that can be hired for a fee at the entrance. 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.[11] 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 National Day of the People's Republic of China celebration. The tower is classified as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[12] At south side of the tower, there is a statue of Yue Fei because he was garrison around this area in Song Dynasty.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ 元和郡縣圖志 卷第二十七 [Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties, Chapter 27] (in Traditional Chinese). Chinese Text Project. Retrieved 30 December 2017. 州城本夏口城,吳黃武二年[223],城江夏以安屯戍地也。城西臨大口,西南角因磯為樓,名黃鶴樓。
  2. ^ Li, Jifu (李吉甫; He, Cijun (賀次君) (1983). 元和郡縣圖志 [Yuanhe Maps and Records of Prefectures and Counties]. 中國古代地理總志叢刊. Beijing: Zhonghua Book Company.
  3. ^ 两副楹联两座楼. 光绪三十三年(1907),张之洞由湖广总督任内奉召进京任军机大臣。湖北学界为了表示纪念他,在被焚的同治黄鹤楼的故址附近,修了一座"风度楼",接着遵照张之洞的意见,改名为"奥略楼"。第二年,张氏为它题了一副楹联:"昔贤整顿乾坤,缔造多从江汉起;今日交通文轨,登临不觉亚欧遥。"{...}Aoliaolou Hall
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Wan: Page 42.
  8. ^ Wan: Several Tang sources use "cloud" (白云) rather than "yellow crane" here. The use of "yellow crane" is a later change. Page 43.
  9. ^ Wan: Parrot Island was a sandbar in the middle of the river that has since disappeared. Page 43.
  10. ^ Whincup, Greg (1987). The Heart of Chinese Poetry.
  11. ^ Li Shiqiao (29 April 2014). Understanding the Chinese City. SAGE Publications. pp. 177–. ISBN 978-1-4739-0539-9.
  12. ^ "AAAAA Scenic Areas". China National Tourism Administration. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2011.

External links[edit]

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