Dalian (500 kilometers heast of Beijing and 400 kilometers south of Shenyang) is a second-tier city known for its office parks, cleanliness and booming economy. A port city located on the tip of the Liaodong Peninsula, it is home to skyscrapers, beaches, resorts, zoos, seafood, shopping, Russian-and Japanese-era architecture, and streetcars Along the nicknames that have been attached to it are “Pearl of the North,” “City of Romance,” “the City of Scholartree in the East”, “the City of Foodball”, and “the City of Clothing Industry”.

Dalian is northern China's largest port and a major transportation center. Heavy industry is mostly located in an outlying development zone. Dalian is Liaoning's second largest city (after Shenyang) and the fourth most populous city of Northeast China. About 4 million people live Dalian’s urban area and almost 7 million live in the prefecture-level and Sub-provincial city. Qinhuangdao and Huludao, and a little further Beijing, lie across Liaodong Bay to west. Yantai and Weihai on the Shandong peninsula lie across the Bohai sea Strait to the south. North Korea is across the Korea Bay to the east.

A major financial, shipping and logistics centre for not only Northeast China but also Northeast Asia, Dalian has a history of being dominated and used by foreign powers for its ports. Dalian was previously known as "Port Arthur" from the original Port Arthur, now the city's Lüshunkou district. In the past shipbuilding, oil refining, and paper, steel and fertilizer production were important industries. In recent years it has become an information technology (IT) center. In 2016, Dalian ranked 48th in the Global Financial Centres Index. In 2012, Dalian ranked 82nd in the Global City Competitiveness Index. In 2006, Dalian was named China's most livable city by China Daily.

Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide ; Maps of Dalian: chinamaps.org ; Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Dalian is accessible by air, boat, bus and train. Travel China Guide Travel China Guide

History of Dalian

Japanese-style train station
Traditionally regarded as one of the main gateways to resource-rich Northeast China and Siberia, Dalian was a fishing town until the late 1800s, when it began its transformation into a major deep-water port under the Russians who coveted it because, unlike Vladivostok to the north, its waters didn't freeze over in the winter. The Russians first developed the region in 1898, calling it Dalny,

The Japanese took over Dalian after the end of the Russo-Japanese War and for the most part completed the Russian plan for the city. Shipbuilding and other industries were introduced by the Japanese. From 1905 to the end of World War II, Dalian was the center of Japanese commerce in China, the home of a huge Japanese military base with 300,000 troops and the terminus of the Manchurian Railroad. The courthouse is a replica of an auditorium at Tokyo University and Dalian train station is a copy of Ueno Station in Tokyo.

After World War II, Russians occupied the city again, until 1950, the U.S.S.R. handed the city over to the Chinese government. Under the Communist Chinese. Dalian became a grimy and smokey industrial town known for its shipyards and petrochemical plants. In the late 1980s, Travel writer Paul Theroux compared it South Boston. "It was a decaying port," he wrote, "made out of bricks, with wide streets, cobblestones and trolley tracks, and all the paraphernalia of a harbor — the warehouses, dry docks and cranes."

High-Tech and Foreigner-Friendly IT Dalian

Beginning in earnest in the 1990s, Dalian once again became a center of Japanese commerce. Passengers arriving at the airports were welcomed by a huge "Big Japan" sign, restaurants served sushi and sea urchins, and golf clubs charged US$70,000 membership fees. Many Japanese companies set up call centers and research centers here. South Korean companies also invested heavily there. Russian tourists come to take in what for them is a balmy climate and relatively warm Yellow Sea waters. Dalian is also known for its cheerful and hardworking people.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Dalian became a low-cost telecom hub and call center hub in Asia, particularly for Japan and South Korea, and for companies like Dell, IBM, Sony, Nokia, Hewlett Packard, General Electric and Motorola. In addition to a high number of Japanese companies and Japanese speakers there are also many Korean-speaking ethnic Korean Chinese in the Dalian and call centers for South Korean companies were opened up too. Employees at the call centers were paid about US$130 a month in the early 2000s. The plan was to make Dalian to Japan and South Korea what Bangalore was to the United States.

Dalian was also ground zero for China's outsourcing and IT industries. In the 2000s, it was home to seven massive business parks spread along 30 kilometers of rolling green hills. About 70,000 people worked there for 700 companies, half of which were foreign-owned. Around 470 of them were located at the Dalian Software Park. Over 2,000 companies are expected to be established there by 2013. Even more it was hoped would arrive when the next phase of the Dalian Software Park was finished in the mid 2010s at a cost of US$2.2 billion. General Electric was the first foreign company to establish an office there. There are more than 20 universities and colleges, many of them specializing in science and technology or foreign languages in the Dalian area.

Bo Xilai in Dalian

Bo Xilai, once one of the rising stars of the Communist Party who now sits in a Chinese jail, was mayor of Dalian from 1992 to 2004. Michael Wines wrote in the New York Times: “Barely a decade after taking his first desk job at Communist Party headquarters in Beijing, Mr. Bo was named mayor of Dalian, a city of about six million on the north Pacific coast, in 1992." There “he began to hone the political skills and a hunger for authority that would come to define his career." [Source: Michael Wines, New York Times, May 6, 2012]

“The mayor's job was a plum—the central government was pouring billions into reviving its coastal cities—and Mr. Bo oversaw a lavish effort to remake Dalian, a graceful but rundown seaport, in the image of Hong Kong. A building boom replaced empty factories with office and apartment towers; companies from nearby Japan made Dalian a beachhead for investment in China. Mr. Bo poured billions of renminbi into splashy ventures like annual international fashion shows and beer festivals, civic sculptures and a program that draped the city in seas of freshly planted grass.

“Mr. Bo attended seven and eight events a day in the style of an American mayor in full re-election mode. He relentlessly hyped Dalian's soccer team, China's best, as an icon of civic pride. “You could argue that none of these things are basic to the well-being of the people, but you had the sense it appealed," said Stephen MacKinnon, an author and longtime scholar of China who knew Mr. Bo in the 1980s and early 1990s. “It was flashy."

“Mr. Bo's self-promotion was equally splashy: by the mid-1990s, a celebrity chronicler had penned a fawning history of his Dalian accomplishments, and pro-Bo articles were being planted in major newspapers nationwide. Dalian gained an international buzz, and Mr. Bo vaulted to governor of surrounding Liaoning Province and a seat on the Central Committee, which includes about 370 of the party's most powerful figures. “He was accompanied wherever he went by a battalion of fabulous young women wearing Madonna headsets and sassy little sailor outfits," The South China Morning Post gushed in 2004, recounting a dinner with the governor on a ship docked at Dalian port. “He circulated easily between tables, shaking hands with every man, woman and child on board, graciously accepting the many requests for photos and autographs that his celebrity status guaranteed. Later, when he spoke on stage, his enraptured audience seemed powerless to resist him."

Development in Dalian

Many of Dalain’s treasured Russian-re buildings have been demolished in recent years to make way for new development. Francesca Perry wrote in the South China Morning Post: “Dalian’s cityscape reflects this history, with Japanese and Russian architecture surrounded by gleaming new commercial skyscrapers. One of the most famous examples is Russian Street, originally called Engineer Street. The oldest street in Dalian, it boasts buildings built by the Russians in the early 20th century. By the mid-1990s, many had fallen into disrepair, and city mayor at the time, Bo Xilai, decided to carefully renovate the remaining structures, adding new ones built in a similar style. He also renamed it Russian Street. [Source: Francesca Perry, South China Morning Post, March 23, 2017]

“Although Bo Xilai later went to prison on charges of corruption, locals remember the positive impact he had on the city. “When [he] was mayor, Dalian experienced its fastest development,” explains Grace Cong, a student and childhood resident. “As a result of this, Dalian attracted more tourists than ever, and became known as ‘the city of romance’. I think that was the only time Dalian nearly became a ‘top-tier’ city.” In 2006, Dalian was named China’s most liveable city. But residents and visitors alike feel its star has since faded. “Subsequent mayors did not care about the city in the same way as Bo Xilai,” adds Grace. “Now, Dalian can hardly attract as many people as before, and it’s just a normal city, nothing special.”“

In 2016 “Kaifeng-born student YiJing Liu went to Dalian and set out to photograph its unique historic streets. “I was shocked to see the beautiful and historic buildings were covered with blue steel hoardings,” she recalls. “There were signs on them saying ‘demolition’. Standing on the empty streets and looking further, I saw skyscrapers just like anywhere else. I thought these old houses and streets were something special in this city, but they were dying.”

In November, 2016 “China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) sued the city government in an effort to protect this network of historic streets. A month earlier it has been announced that a reconstruction project would transform the area into a high-end commercial and business district. The move is a familiar one in Chinese cities: according to a heritage survey conducted between 2007 and 2011, around 44,000 heritage sites in China had been demolished since the 1980s.”

Roads, Taxis and Traffic in Dalian

According to ASIRT: Located in montainous region in southern section of peninsula. Many roads are steep. Zhuanghe is city's most rural district. City includes Bingyu Valley and other tourism sites. Major roads serving the city: Shenda Expressway (Dalian to Shenyang), Changda Expressway (Dalian to Changchun), Hada Expressway (Dalian to Harbin) and Dalian to Dandong Highway. Roads radiate out from Zhongshan Square in city center. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2011]

“Traffic is heavily congested. Traffic includes few bicycles and motorcycles. Sale of motorcycles is prohibited in the city. Road conditions have improved. Main streets in city center are wide. Often difficult for pedestrians to cross in heavy traffic. Heavily used intersections generally have controlled crosswalks and pedestrian tunnels. Use caution when walking. Sidewalks may be in poor condition. Be alert for missing manhole covers and clothes lines in front of homes/businesses when walking at night. Ceramic tile or marble, used on some walking surfaces, is very slippery when wet or snow-covered. Streets may be slippery in the morning. Drivers seldom yield to pedestrians, even when pedestrian crosswalk signal is green. Streets may be severely flooded during heavy rains.

Taxis are readily available, except in rush hour or areas far from city center. Taxis operate 24/7. Many drivers accept credit cards. Taxis are metered. Be certain driver uses meter. Drivers may turn meter off during bad weather. Illegal, but not enforced. Drivers seldom understand English. Ask hotel staff to write directions to your destination for the driver During rush hours, drivers often want to pick up additional passengers traveling to destinations along your route. Taxis with a blue light on the roof have the highest city rating; taxis with a yellow light have the lowest city rating. Illegal, "black" taxis also provide transport. They avoid city's heavily patrolled areas. Taxis are metered. Drivers generally charge correct fares, but seldom give receipts. Motorcycle taxis seldom operate in city center; more common in suburbs, especially in Kaifaqu and Jinzhou. High road risk. Helmets are not provided. Rental vehicles and chauffeur-driven vehicles are available.

Public Transportation in Dalian

Most of the public transportation in the city can be accessed using the Mingzhu IC Card. Dalian Metro (commonly called Qinggui) opened in 2013 and consists of four lines — underground Line 1, Line 2, and abover ground Line 12 (Formerly called line R2) and Line 3 — with 158 kilometers of track and 69 stations as of 2019. Dalian Metro links Dalian Development Zone and Jinshitan with city center. New lines and expansion of the metro system are under way.
Line 1 runs from Yaojia(Ganjingzi) to Hekou (Ganjingzi). Opened in 2015 and expanded in 2017 it 28.34 kilometers of track and 22 stations.
Line 2 runs from Xinzhaizi (Ganjingzi) to Haizhiyun (Zhongshan). Opened in 2015 and expanded 2018, it has 25.74 kilometers of track and 21 stations.
Line 3 runs from Dalian Railway Station (Zhongshan) to Golden Pebble Beach (Jinzhou) and Jiuli (Jinzhou). Opened in 2003 and expanded in 2008, it has63.45 kilometers of track and 18 stations.
Line 12 runs from Hekou (Ganjingzi) to Lüshun New Port (Lüshunkou). Opened in 2013 and expanded in 2017 it has 40.35 kilometers of track and 8 stations. Dalian Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

Dalian Tram system is the second oldest in China. Tram Operating continuously since 1909, it consists of two lines serving the Central Railway Station, Shahekou Railway Station, Donghai Beach, Russian Street and Xian Lu Shopping Area, Heishijiao, Xinghai Sq. Stops may vary on express trams. Dalian Tram Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net

According to ASIRT: Buses are most commonly used form of public transportation. Service is frequent. Begins at 4:30 to 8:00am; closes at 10:00pm. Time of operation varies with route. Buses on major routes may be crowded during rush hour. Signs at bus stops are in English and Chinese. Most routes charge a flat fare. Exact change required. Buses generally lack air-conditioning and heat. Even when present, drivers seldom use them.

Tourist bus routes: 1) No. 180,: circular route serve the train station, People's Square, Xinghai Square, Fujiazhaung Beach, Tiger Beach, Labour Park and Zhongshan Square. 2) No. 801B, links the ferry terminal, Zhongshan Square, Heishijiao, the train station, People's Square and Xinghai Square. 3) Binhai Lu buses link the train station, Conference & Exhibition Center, Dalian Seashell Museum, Forest Zoo, FuJiazhuang beach, Yan Woling, Birdsong Forest, Tiger Beach Paradise, Harbour Square and Zhongshan Square. Service is every 40 minutes. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2011]

“Light-rail (qîng gui) links city center with Ganjing and Jinzhou Districts. Provides shorter transport time than going by taxi, especially when Shenda Expressway is congested. May be overcrowded in rush hour. Fare based on distance. Light rail also links city center with the New Development Zone and Golden Pebble Beach National Resort.”

Train Service to Dalian

According to ASIRT: Rail service is available to many cities. Dalian Central Train Station is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) north of Victory Square. An express train ia available to Shenyang daily. Purchasing tickets requires understanding of Chinese or assistance of local travel agent or hotel staff. The Harbin-Dalian high speed rail links Harbin, Dalian, Changchun, and Shenyang. [Source: Association for Safe International Road Travel (ASIRT), 2011]

“Dalian Zhoushuizi International Airport, located in Ganjingzi District, 10 kilometers (6 miles) northwest of city center. Airport buses provide transport to Shahekou Train Station and city's main train station. Public buses No. 701 and No. 710 have routes with stops at main train station. No. 701's route ends at Zhongshan Square. No. 710's route continues to the harbor, Sanba Square and Erqi Square. Official airport taxis can be hailed from taxi queue on terminal's eastern side. Provide transport to city center. Few drivers provide transport far from city center.

“Ferries provide transport all year. Ridership drops in winter, due to harsh weather. Passenger ships provide transport to Yantai, Weihai, Tianjin, Penglai and Qinhuangdao, Changhai County, Changhai County and Incheon (South Korea).

“Long distance buses provide transport to destinations in the province. Express bus service is available to Beijing and other areas in northeastern China. Largest bus station is on Jianshe Jie, south of the Train Station. Smaller bus stations are located near the passenger ferry terminal in Shahekou District.

Sights and Tourism in Dalian

Tourist areas in Dalian include Harbin Road and Golden Pebble Beach National Tourist Resort. The latter has a “reef colony and rare turtle stone” as well as a world-class golf course. Major events include the Dalian Chinese Scholar Tree Festival in May, Dalian Imports&Exports Trading Fair, Dalian International Fashion Festival in September, the Dalian Marathon Race in October and the Dalian Spring Festival Fireworks Fair.

There are many old Japanese houses around Harbin Street in the Nanshan area. In recent years many these houses have been demolished to make room for new development. Tourist areas often have take-your-picture booths. Temples often have monks selling postcards. The "Dragon Cave" near Dalian has plastic stalactites, painted fiberglass rocks and tables surrounded by fake moss.

Skyscrapers in Dalian: Eton Place Dalian Tower in Dalian is the 48th tallest building in the world. (as of 2020). Completed in 2015, it is 383 meters (1,257 feet) tall and has 81 floors. Dalian International Trade Center in Dalian, China is the 56th tallest building in the world. Completed in 2018, it is 370.2 meters (1,214 feet) tall and has 86 floors. According to South China Morning Post: A number of mega towers under development by Greenland Group, a state-owned property giant have reportedly stalled without completion, including the 85-storey Dalian Greenland Centre, which was planned to be the tallest building in China’s north east region. Greenland purchased the land in 2010 but hasn’t topped out after seven years. [Source: Wikipedia, South China Morning Post, February 14, 2017]

Dalian Natural History Museum (on the Heishijiao Seashore in the southern tourist area of Dalian) is one of the four biggest natural history museums in China. Established in 1907 and registered with UNESCO, it is now housed in a new modern European-Style building. Inside, there are more than 200,000 pieces of precious specimens, including a halobios and a black right whale that weighs 66.7 tons and has a 1.5-meter-long twin embryos inside said to be especially rare. Among the museum 12 exhibition halls are a Dinosaur Hall, Earth Hall, Wetland Hall and of West Liaoning Hall. Website: www.dlnm.org

Dalian Tiger Beach Ocean Park xoCovering an area of 118 hectares meters along a 4,000-meter-long coastline in southern Dalian City. The park features an enchanting mix of mountain and sea views and offers a wide range of activities and things to check out such as the LHT Pole Aquarium, a sea beasts hall, a coral hall, a pirate village, a bird paradise, a cross-sea cable, sightseeing boats, flume ride, bungee jumping, and speed downhill slide. There is also shopping, and science education.

Lushun (Port Arthur)

Lushun (30 kilometers from Dalian, on the southern tip of the Liaondong Peninsula) was known in the 19th and early 20th century as Port Arthur and has a number of battlefields, buildings and historical sights associated with the Russian and Japanese occupation and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Lushin is home to 325,000 people and lies on the southernmost part of the Liandong Peninsula, facing the Shandong Peninsula on the opposite side of the Bohai Sea.

Lushan has been a place of strategic importance since ancient times. Among its scenic spots are Snake Island, Bird Island, the Guesthouse for Birds on Laotie Hill, and the 100-Year-Old Lighthouse. Sights include Russian-constructed Lushun Railroad Station, 203 Meter Hill — the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the Russo-Japanese War — and Dongjiguanshan Hill, a large Russian-built fortress. Lushan Port and nearby areas are off limits because they are military zones.

Memorial Hall of Lei Feng honors the Model Soldier Lei Feng who was a fixture of Maoist propaganda and featured in publications, media reports. slogans and posters associated with him. Reported to be a real person, Lei was orphaned as child and felt indebted to the Communist Party for taking care of him. He joined the Communist Youth League at the age of seven and worked at a steel mill before he was allowed to become a soldier in the People's Liberation Army even though he was only five feet tall. Feng read Mao's writings nearly everyday and viewed himself as “a tiny screw." In his diary, he wrote: "A man's usefulness to the revolutionary cause is like a screw in a machine. Though a screw is small, its use is beyond measure. I am willing to be a screw." He also reported wrote "A person's life is limited but to serve the people is unlimited."Feng died at the age of 22 in 1962 when his jeep ran into downed a utility pole. Afterwards his diary was "discovered" and Feng was elevated to the status of a "revolutionary icon." He became so famous that performing a good deed was refereed as "doing a Lei Feng." School children were taught the stories of his good deed; Mao said "Learn from Lei Feng;" and stores sold all kinds of Le Feng products. It is still not clear whether Lei and his diary were real or made up by the party. Location: 61 Dongduan, Heping Dist., Lushun, Tel: +86-413-6658806

Lushun Museum Center is composed of Lushun museum, garden, zoo, and snake museum, friendship tower and tower. Facing friendship tower, Lushun museum has three exhibition themes: 1) cultural relics of the past dynasties; 2) . Dalian local historical and cultural relics; and 3) the Xinjiang Mummy. Lushun garden features more than 200 precious kinds of plants, such as sago, oriental cherry, cypress trees and phoenix trees and dozens of precious flowers. The theme of snake museum is “back to Nature”. It features giant turtle zone, crocodile zone, snake zone, precious animal zone, and specimen zone. There are more than 30 Yangtze crocodiles, and thousands of snakes.

Web Site: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide UNESCO World Heritage Site:: ( UNESCO

Near Dalian

Places near Falian include the hot spring in Anbo and the islands in Changhai. Bingyu Ice Valley (200 kilometers north of Dalien) features forest-covered mountains with a beautiful rumpled and wrinkled look to them. The valley that runs through these mountains gets its name from the sandy river bed that is so white it looks like ice.

Bijia Mountain is a curious island which joins to the mainland at low tide via a land bridge. The island is located in the Jinzhou Economic and Technological Development Zone about 35 kilometers from Jinzhou and consists of the Bijia Mountain and the Celestial Bridge. The mountain peak in 78.3 meter high and the island-mountain covers an area of 1.2 square kilometers. The northern side of the mountain faces the mainland and is relatively flat with paved winding stone steps for tourists. There are unusual rock formations, deep clefts and steep cliffs. During most times of the day, Bijiashan can only be accessed by boat. But when the sea recedes, a natural zigzagging cobblestone causeway (a tombolo), over 10 meters wide, links the island to the mainland.


Dandong (on the North Korean border, 200 kilometers east-northeast of Dalian) is a port town with about 700,000 people in the city (and 2.5 million in the prefecture) across the Yalu River from North Korea. The main train line and much of the trade between China and North Korea pass through the town. Journalists gather here to seek news about North Korea and North Koreans that have escaped into China.

Much of the tourism is geared towards North Korea watching. Boat trips pass within 15 meters of the North Korean shores, binoculars have been set up to visitors to look at the North Korean city of Sinŭiju and other places in the hermit kingdom. Vendors sell kitschy postcards and other items from North Korea. One of the most lucrative businesses in reselling sea cumbers gathered in North Korea to Chinese medicine shops. There is a 1.3-kilometer section of the Great Wall near the Yalu River.

Web Sites: Travel China Guide Travel China Guide Budget Accommodation: Check Lonely Planet books; Getting There: Dandong Shenyang is accessible by air, train and bus. Lonely Planet Lonely Planet

Wunu Mountain City: Ancient Korean Site and UNESCO World Heritage Site

Wunu Mountain City (200 kilometers northeast of Dandong, north of the town of Huanren in Huanren Manchu Autonomous County) is a Goguryeo (ancient Korean) site that is part of the Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom, a combined UNESCO World Heritage Site that also includes sites in Ji'an, Jilin that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004. .

According to UNESCO: “The site includes archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City, 14 tombs are imperial, 26 of nobles. All belong to the Koguryo culture, named after the dynasty that ruled over parts of northern China and the northern half of the Korean Peninsula from 277 B.C. to A.D. 668. Wunu Mountain City is only partly excavated. Guonei City, within the modern city of Ji’an, played the role of a ‘supporting capital’ after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang. Wandu Mountain City, one of the capitals of the Koguryo Kingdom, contains many vestiges including a large palace and 37 tombs. Some of the tombs show great ingenuity in their elaborate ceilings, designed to roof wide spaces without columns and carry the heavy load of a stone or earth tumulus (mound), which was placed above them.

“The Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom dating from the 1st century B.C. to the 7th century CE comprise archaeological remains of three cities and 40 tombs: Wunu Mountain City in Huanren Manchu Autonomous County, Liaoning Province; Guonei City, Wandu Mountain City, and the 40 tombs in Ji’an municipality, Jilin Province.

“The Koguryo kingdom was a regional power and ethnic group from the year 37 B.C. until the kingdom moved its capital to Pyonyang in 427CE.Wunu Mountain City, Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City served as capitals of Koguryo during the early and middle period of the Kingdom. Wunu Mountain City was built in 37 B.C. as the first capital of the Koguryo regime. Surrounded by a defensive wall with three gates which was partly built in stone and in other places exploited the cliff face, the city included a palace, military camp, watch tower, houses and warehouses. Guonei City, now surrounded by the city of Ji’an, was built on the plain with a stone-built defensive wall and had separate palace and residential zones. Wandu Mountain City, the only Koguryo mountain city capital whose general layout was planned with the large palace as its core, created a mountain city that perfectly combined the Koguryo culture with the natural environment. Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City were the economic, political and cultural centers of the Koguryo for hundreds of years. Guonei City was destroyed in the year 197 CE when the Koguryo were defeated by another power. Wandu Mountain City was built in 209 CE. Both cities were damaged in wars and rebuilt several times, serving alternately as the capital. Guonei City played the role of a supporting capital after the main Koguryo capital moved to Pyongyang; it is one of the few plains city sites with stone city walls still standing.

“The tombs of kings and nobles of the ancient Koguryo Kingdom are distributed in the Donggou Ancient Tombs Area of Wandu Mountain City. The 12 imperial tombs take a stepped pyramid form constructed of stone. The burial chambers within were roofed with clay tiles. The tombs of the nobles have stone chambers covered with earth mounds and are decorated with wall paintings, depicting scenes of daily life, sports, hunting, nature, gods, fairies, and dragons. The stele of King Haotaiwang dating from 414CE, tells the story of the founding of the Koguryo kingdom.

“The capital cities and tombs are exceptional testimony to the vanished Koguryo civilisation. The layout and construction of the capital cities influenced the city planning and building of later cultures. The tomb paintings represent a rare artistic expression in medieval Northeast Asia and together with the stele and inscriptions show the impact of Chinese culture on the Koguryo.”

The site is important because: 1) The tombs represent a masterpiece of the human creative genius in their wall paintings and structures. 2) The Capital Cities of the Koguryo Kingdom are an early example of mountain cities, later imitated by neighbouring cultures. The tombs, particularly the important stele and a long inscription in one of the tombs, show the impact of Chinese culture on the Koguryo (who did not develop their own writing). The paintings in the tombs, while showing artistic skills and specific style, are also an example for strong impact from other cultures. 3) The Capital Cities and Tombs of the Ancient Koguryo Kingdom represent exceptional testimony to the vanished Koguryo civilization. 4) The system of capital cities represented by Guonei City and Wandu Mountain City also influenced the construction of later capitals built by the Koguryo regime; the Koguryo tombs provide outstanding examples of the evolution of piled-stone and earthen tomb construction. 5) The capital cities of the Koguryo Kingdom represent a perfect blending of human creation and nature whether with the rocks or with forests and rivers.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons

Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), China.org, UNESCO, reports submitted to UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, China Daily, Xinhua, Global Times, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2020

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