Songyang Academy was one of the four greatest academies for higher education in ancient China, together with Yingtian Academy in Shangqiu of Henan, Yuelu Academy in Changsha of Hunan, and Bailudong Academy in Jiujiang of Jiangxi. The Academy was an important and unique educational organization in ancient China, somehow like today’s college. It played an important role in China’s education history and cultural transmission. Nowadays, Songyang Academy is an “example” for learning ancient academy architecture, the ancient Chinese education system and Confucianism. It is located in Dengfeng and 85 kilometers (53 mi) southwest of Zhengzhou city center, with Shuangxi River flowing by in front and Songshan Mountain on the back.
Songyang Academy, built in 484, used to be an arena of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. It was called Songyang Temple firstly, which was an arena of Buddhism with hundreds of Buddhists. From 605 to 618, it was renamed Songyang Taoist Temple. After renaming several times, it was called Songyang Academy in 1035. From then on, it became a classical education institution in ancient China. It was also one of the birthplaces of Neo-confucianism in Song Dynasty (906-1279).
Five Rows of Buildings in Symmetrical Layout
Songyang Academy maintains its architectural composition from the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912) in a symmetrical layout. It is 78 meters (85 yards) from east to west and 128 meters (140 yards) from south to north. There are 5 rows of buildings from south to north- the gate, the Previous Saints Hall, classroom, Daotong Temple and Book-Collecting Tower. The wing-rooms on both sides of the axis line are linked together. There are 108 ancient houses all together, most of them are simple and elegant grey tiled houses with strong features of local buildings.
Previous Saints Hall
It was equivalent to a library in ancient time. Songyang Academy has plenty of books from the award of emperors, private donations, purchase and publications from the academy. The books could only be borrowed by the academy’s teachers and students, and they had a set of rules of borrowing and collecting.
Treasures of Songyang Academy
Stele of Tang Dynasty
Three Great General Officers (Three Ancient Cypresses)
The First General Officer is 12 m (40 ft) high with a perimeter of 5.4 m (5.9 yd). The body of the tree is recumbent and the top is thick and broad. The Second General Officer is 18 m (60 ft) high with a perimeter of 13 m (14 yd), it is mottled and senile but still vigorous and vibrant. Under the trunk of the Second General Officer is a corridor-liked cavity which can accommodate 5 to 6 adults. The Third General Officer was ruined in the late Ming Dynasty (around 1644). According to forestry experts, the general officer trees are the original cypresses, which at 4,500 years old are now the oldest and biggest cypresses in China.
The Stone Carving of “The Map of Dengfeng County”
The Pagoda Tree Planted by Cheng Hao and Cheng Yi
The Stele of Song-Mountain Temple
The stele was made in 535. It has 94 figures of Buddha on one facet and a big shrine on the other facet. This delicate stele is a first-class work of stone carving in central plains of China.
How to get to Songyang Academy
First, take a long-distance bus from Zhengzhou to Dengfeng, then take city bus 2/6 to the terminus. Here below is the detailed long-distance bus information:
|Get on at||First Depart||Last Depart||Interval||Duration||Fare (CNY)|
|Long-Distance Central Bus Station||05:30||20:00||30 min||1.5h||28|
|Zhengzhou Passenger Transport General Station||06:00||19:30||9~18 Min||2h||23|
|Central High Speed Rail Station||07:50||20:00||40~50 Min||1.5h||30|
|New North Long-Distance Bus Station||08:00||18:30||60~80 Min||1.5h||28|
|Ticket price||CNY 30|
|Open time||March to August: 8:00-18:30|
|September to next February: 8:00-18:00|
Education in China