Yellow Crane Tower

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The modern Yellow Crane Tower built in 1985
File:HuangHe Tower2.jpg
The Yellow Crane Tower in 1871.
View to the west with Tortoise Hill and beyond, the Tortoise Mountain TV Tower

Yellow Crane Tower (Chinese: ; pinyin: Huáng Hè Lóu) refers to a tower structure originally built sometime in 223 AD. The current structure of the same name was rebuilt in 1981, and bears little resemblance to the original Yellow Crane Tower. The current Yellow Crane Tower is situated on Sheshan (Snake Hill), one kilometre away from the original site, at the bank of Yangtze River in Wuchang District, Wuhan, in Hubei province of central China.


View to the east from the Yellow Crane Tower. The eastern part of the Snake Hill is in the middle; the red-brick compound of the Wuchang Uprising memorial is to the right of it

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

Warfare and fires have led to the destruction of the tower many times. In the Ming and Qing dynasties alone, the tower was destroyed and rebuilt seven times, and required repair on 10 occasions. The last tower in the Qing dynasty was built in 1868, and later destroyed in 1884. Its site was later occupied by the trestle of Wuhan Yangtze River Bridge in 1957. In 1981, the Wuhan City Government decided to rebuild the tower at a new location one kilometre from the original historical site. The current tower was completed in 1985.


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.[1]

The tower is also a sacred site of Taoism. Lü Dongbin is said to ascend to heaven from here.[2]


Poem by Cui Hao

Yellow Crane Tower was made famous by an 8th-century poem written by Cui Hao, titled "Yellow Crane Tower" (黄鹤楼).[3] The original text of the poem is shown below:


A modern English translation is:

Long ago one's gone riding the yellow crane,[4] 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.[5]
At sunset, which direction leads to my hometown? One could not help feeling melancholy along the misty river.

Poem by Li Bai

There are other famous poems about the Yellow Crane Tower by Li Bai, one of which 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

As of 1988, one of the top floors in the Yellow Crane Tower is strictly reserved for visiting poets of note, and is only allowed to be viewed from outside by the general public. This floor is fully equipped with desks, chairs, papers, brushes and inks, allowing visiting poets the opportunity to use the facility.


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. 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 every year during the week-long celebration of China's National Day (October 1). The tower is classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.[6]

See also



  1. 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.
  2. 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
  3. Wan: Page 42.
  4. Wan: Several Tang sources use "cloud" (白云) rather than "yellow crane" here. The use of "yellow crane" is a later change. Page 43.
  5. Wan: Parrot Island was a sandbar in the middle of the river that has since disappeared. Page 43.
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Reference sources

  • State sponsored Yellow Crane Tower ciggerettes. See Article

External links

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