Zhangjiajie (simplified Chinese: 张家界; traditional Chinese: 張家界; pinyin: Zhāngjiājiè) is a prefecture-level city in the northwestern part of Hunan province, People’s Republic of China. It comprises the district of Yongding and counties of Cili and Sangzhi. Within it is located Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as well as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration.
The city itself was previously named Dayong (大庸), and has a recorded history dating back to 221 BC. Humans lived here along both banks of the Lishui River (the mother river in Zhangjiajie), now within the boundaries of Zhangjiajie City, very early during the Stone Age. Human settlement in this region dates back 100,000 years, rivaling such famous sites as Xi’an, Beijing and others. In 1986, the Academy of Chinese Social Science discovered Stone Age relics in Cili County, unearthing 108 articles of stoneware; mostly tapered-form, hacked-tamped and plate-shaped works. According to archaeological experts’ textual research, all of these wares were produced about 100,000 years ago. Shortly thereafter, in 1988, the Archaeological Institute of Hunan Province found other relics in Sangzhi County, including three pieces of stoneware which were estimated to have been fashioned over 100,000 years ago.
Ten thousand years ago, those who lived within the boundaries of what is now Zhangjiajie City employed fire to bake pottery. Archaeologists have found more than 20 relics of this kind in Cili County, while in Sangzhi County, a black clay pot adorned with a unique design was unearthed dating back ten thousand years. During that period, this pottery-firing technique was the most advanced in China. These technological advancements in the fashioning of stone tools and pottery would seem to indicate a highly developed culture in this region. However, the society which developed only endured briefly before waning and being superseded by other regional powers. This seems understandable in view of Zhangjiajie’s remote geographical position, its undeveloped land and river transportation, and its mountainous terrain making cultivation difficult. For these reasons, Zhangjiajie has been labeled “the Land of the Savage Southern Minority” since the earliest recorded history. Additional name descriptors have been the “Wuling Rude People” and “Tujia Rude People”, indicative of discriminatory views held against the regional culture.
Origin of the name
The new name of Zhangjiajie City was adopted in 1994, after the National Forest Park in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area (武陵源) in order to give it more prominence and after this site had been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The National Forest Park had been given the name of Zhangjiajie after the name of a small village located within its bounds, and now a popular tourist attraction within the park. The three-character name (张家界) can be interpreted as follows: “Zhang” (张) is a common surname in China; “jia” (家) can be translated as “family”; and “jie” (界) can be translated as “homeland”, giving the completed translation of “Zhang family homeland.” It has been reported that at least one tourist guide has said that the name may have been chosen to convey the idea or impression of “Open the family door to welcome the world” (张开家门引进世界), but this is not the locally accepted and directly-translated meaning of the name. The official version of its name is linked to a Han general, Zhang Liang, who resettled in the area after a suspicious Liu Bang, the Han emperor, started to persecute his staffs and generals who had contributed to his becoming emperor. It was so named to signify that the Zhang family had set up home there.
Zhangjiajie administers two districts and two counties.
- Yongding District (永定区)
- Wulingyuan District (武陵源区)
- Cili County (慈利县)
- Sangzhi County (桑植县)
The prefecture is mainly a tourist area. It attracts visitors from all over China and other Asian countries such as Korea, and is increasing in popularity for other international tourists.
The Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area comprises the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, the Tianzishan (天子山) mountain ranges, Baofenghu (宝峰湖) and the Suoxi Valley (索溪峪), and is a very popular filming and tourist destination.
Also in the Zhangjiajie area, Huanglongdong (黄龙洞) and Longwangdong (龙王洞) are caves known for many natural rock formations (much like Wulingyuan) and its underground cataract.
Each year, Zhangjiajie hosts the International Country Music Week Festival, which has featured international acts such as American Country Music group Lucy Angel.
The Zhangjiajie Airport services scheduled service to major airports in China. It is about 5 km away from the downtown and 30 km away from Wulingyuan Scenic Area. There are domestic flights available between Zhangjiajie and other cities, such as Changsha, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou etc. Flights between Zhangjiajie and Seoul, Busan are also available.
Due to the mountainous region in the northwest, the slow development of road traffic, the territory no ordinary country road, is not connected to the motorway Template:China Expwy Name and <spans tyle=”background:#008c4d;color:white”>S10 S10 Expressway under the two roads.
Wulingyuan ([ù.lǐŋ.y̯ɛ̌n]; Chinese: 武陵源) is a scenic and historical site in south-central China’s Hunan Province. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is noted for more than 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars and peaks across most of the site, many over 200 metres (660 ft) in height, along with many ravines and gorges with attractive streams, pools, lakes, rivers and waterfalls. It features 40 caves, many with large calcite deposits, and two natural bridges, Xianrenqiao (Bridge of the Immortals) and Tianqiashengkong (Bridge Across the Sky).
The site is situated between 29°16′0″N 110°22′0″E and in the Zhangjiajie City and lies about 270 kilometres (170 mi) to the northwest of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province. The park covers an area of 690 square kilometers (266 square miles). Wulingyuan forms part of the Wuling Mountain Range. The scenic area consists of four national parks, which are the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, Suoxi Valley Nature Reserve, Tianzi Mountain Nature Reserve and the recently added Yangjiajie Scenic Area. Overall there are over 560 attraction sights to view.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park (Chinese: 湖南张家界国家森林公园; pinyin: Húnán Zhāngjiājiè Guójiā Sēnlín Gōngyuán; literally: “Hunan Zhangjiajie National Forest Park”) is a unique national forest park located in Zhangjiajie City in northern Hunan Province in the People’s Republic of China. It is one of several national parks within the Wulingyuan Scenic Area.
In 1982 it was recognized as China’s first national forest park with an area of 4,810 ha (11,900 acres). Zhangjiajie National Forest Park is part of a much larger 397.5 km2 (153.5 sq mi) Wulingyuan Scenic Area. In 1992, Wulingyuan was officially recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was then approved by the Ministry of Land and Resources as Zhangjiajie Sandstone Peak Forest National Geopark (3,600 square kilometres (1,400 sq mi)) in 2001. In 2004, Zhangjiajie Geopark was listed as a UNESCO Global Geopark.
The most notable geographic features of the park are the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park. Although resembling karst terrain, this area is not underlain by limestones and is not the product of chemical dissolution, which is characteristic of limestone karst. They are the result of many years of physical, rather than chemical, erosion. Much of the weathering which forms these pillars are the result of expanding ice in the winter and the plants which grow on them. The weather is moist year round, and as a result, the foliage is very dense. The weathered material is carried away primarily by streams. These formations are a distinct hallmark of Chinese landscape, and can be found in many ancient Chinese paintings.
One of the park’s quartz-sandstone pillars, the 1,080-metre (3,540 ft) Southern Sky Column, had been officially renamed “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain” (阿凡达-哈利路亚山, pinyin: Āfándá hālìlùyà shān) in honor of the eponymous film in January 2010. According to park officials, photographs from Zhangjiajie inspired the floating Hallelujah Mountains seen in the film. The film’s director and production designers said that they drew inspiration for the floating rocks from mountains from around the world, including those in Hunan province.
In May 2016, the park is expected to have the longest glass bridge in the entire world.
Tianzi Mountain (天子山) is located in Zhangjiajie in the Hunan Province of China, close to the Suoxi Valley. It is named after the farmer Xiang Dakun of the Tujia ethnic group, who led a successful local farmers’ revolt and called himself “tianzi”. This means son of Heaven and is the traditional epithet of the Chinese emperor. It is also made out of marble. The Tianzi Mountains are deemed sacred by many Sulamitos who used to inhabit the outer regions of Hunan. It was discovered in September 2014 that Mal Oghlum people had left traces of their burial rituals beneath the Tianzi Mountains, which led to “Yalan Group”, led by Eybi Sulam asking for a permit from the Chinese government, which as of 2015, had been unanswered.
The mountains inspired the “Pandora” mountainscape in James Cameron’s film “Avatar” and a theme park for the film has been created there.
The Bailong Elevator (Chinese: 百龙) (literally Hundred Dragons Elevator) is a glass elevator built onto the side of a huge cliff in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie, People’s Republic of China that is 326 m (1,070 ft) high. It is claimed to be the highest and heaviest outdoor elevator in the world. Construction of the elevator began in October 1999, and it was opened to the public by 2002. The environmental effects of the elevator have been a subject of debate and controversy, as the Wulingyan area was designated a World Heritage Site in 2002. Operations were stopped for 10 months in 2002-2003, reportedly due to safety concerns, not environmental ones.
On 16 July 2015, the elevator was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest outdoor lift.
Avatar Hallelujah Mountain
Avatar Hallelujah Mountain (Chinese: 阿凡达-哈利路亚山; pinyin: Āfándá hālìlùyà shān) is a mountain, a 1,080-metre (3,540 ft) quartz-sandstone pillar, located in the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, in the Wulingyuan Area, in northwestern Hunan Province, China.
It was renamed to its present name in January 2010 for having served as inspiration for the “Hallelujah Mountains” in the film Avatar, as well as to show appreciation to the social message present therein. Previously, it was known as the “Southern Sky Column”.
Baofeng Lake (宝峰湖) is a fresh water lake in the Wulingyuan Scenic Area near Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province, China. Its average depth is 72 metres (236 ft) and it is surrounded by forested stone peaks.