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Follow us on: Marco Polo Bridge (Lugou Bridge)

It is often said in Beijing 'there are countless lions on the Lugou Bridge' in view of the fact that there are so many finely carved lions to be seen upon it. This historic structure that crosses the Yongding River is also known as the Marco Polo Bridge, and is situated 15km (9.32 miles) southwest of Tiananmen.

Marco Polo Bridge Stone lions on the bridge

Stone Carvings, Marco Polo Bridge

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Construction of the original bridge on this site commenced in 1189 and was completed in 1192 and was later reconstructed in 1698. It is 266.5 m (874 feet) in length and 9.3 m (30.5 feet) in width, supported on 281 pillars. On each pillar stands a stone lion. The most intriguing feature of these beasts is the fact that there are more lions hiding on the head, back or under the belly or on paws of each of the big lions. Investigations to determine total the number of animals have been carried out on several occasions but the results have proved inconsistent, ranging anywhere from 482 to 496. However, record has it that there were originally a total of 627 lions. The posture of each lion varies, as do their ages. Most date from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, some are from the earlier Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368); while the few lions dating from as long ago as the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) are now quite rare.

Four ornamental columns each 4.65 meters (15 feet) high and a white marble stele stand at the ends of the bridge. One stele records the reconstruction of the bridge by Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) in 1698.The other stele bears calligraphy by Emperor Qianlong, the grandson of Kangxi. It reads 'Morning moon over Lugou', and for the 700 years since its completion, the bridge has been a well known scenic spot in the city.

As well as being famed for its aesthetic features, it is also considered to be an architectural masterpiece. It is built of solid granite, with a large central arch flanked by ten smaller ones. Each of the ten piers is protected by triangular iron pillars that have been installed to prevent by flood and ice.

However, it holds a very special place in the modern history of China, and more for painful memories rather than either its stunning beauty or amazing architectural achievement. It was here on this bridge that the eight-year-long War of Resistance against the Imperial Japanese Army commenced on the 7th July 1937, that culminated with the surrender of Japan in 1945. For further information in this connection, please see The Memorial Hall to the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre.

Admission Fee: CNY 20
Opening Hours: 07:00 to 19:00 (April 1 - October 31)
08:00 to 17:00 (November 1 - the next March 31)
Nearby Attractions: Wanping City Wall (Admisstion fee: CNY 5)
Sculpture Garden (free of charge and open 08:00 - 17:00, closed on Monday)
By Subway Take Subway Line 1 to Wukesong Station. Leave from Exit D1 and then take bus 624 to Zhan Diao Su Yuan (Sculpture Garden) Station.
By Bus: Take bus 952, 310, 313, 452, 624, 661, 715, 971, 329, 843, 983, 77, 662, 693, 978, 309, 301, 339, 459, 458 and get off at Kang Zhan Diao Su Yuan Station.
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 Recommended Itinerary:
Beijing One Day Tour: Peking Man Site - Macao Polo Bridge - Stone Flower Cave
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