November 26, 2010

Porcelain Tower of Nanjing

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing in China is perhaps one of the youngest of all the seven medieval wonders of the world to have existed. It was built on the south banks of the river Yangtze in the early 1400s, under the rule of the Yongle Emperor who also designed it, as a tower of pilgrimage and a place of worship.
This structure is set apart from others because of its exquisite beauty. It was an octagonal pagoda, adorned with approximately 140 lamps hung on it to illuminate the tower at night. The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was also built with porcelain bricks that reflect sunlight, which made it a bright and beautiful sight to behold on the horizon. These white porcelain bricks were glazed and dyed with red, green, brown and yellow patterns to create the images of animals, people, flowers and certain scenarios.
For its time, it was also one of the tallest man made structures in China, standing at 79 meters high and with a base of 29 meters. It was named ‘Bao’ensi’ which means ‘Temple of Gratitude’ and it was used for religious worship right up to the start of the Taiping Revolution in 1850. Today this medieval wonder is in ruins, but reconstruction at the hands of the Chinese government has started again. This means that it is certainly possible to visit Nanjing and see where the tower once stood, but you cannot walk right up to the wonder’s ruins because construction work in commencing there.
Current State:
Today the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing does not exist, as it was destroyed by both natural and man made events during its history.
In 1801, during an electrical storm, the Porcelain Tower was struck by lightening. This caused considerable damage to the top three floors, knocking them to the ground, but the tower was still very much in use right up until 1850 when the Taiping Revolution caused more trouble. The rebels at this time wanted to stop the citizens from using the tower as a hide away or as a means to attack them from above, so they destroyed the stairs inside. The tower remained standing, but unused until 1856 when these very same rebels destroyed it completely in anger and attack.
For a long time the rubble and ruins remained at the site where it once stood on the bank of the river Yangtze, but now that the Chinese Government have decided to rebuild and reconstruct this medieval wonder of the world, that rubble has been cleared. While the area of Nanjing is beautiful and a great place to visit, anyone who wishes to see the remnants or the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing in any form may wish to wait until it has been fully reconstructed.

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