Legend of the first tower in Jiangnan—Yuejiang Tower

Editor︰Ryu

Yuejiang Tower (閲江樓) is situated at the top of Lion Hill in Nanjing. It is one of the top four famous towers in Jiangnan region and one of the top ten famous towers in China.

It was first built during the Ming Dynasty and hailed as the "Number One Tower of Jiangnan".

This magnificent building has a history of more than 600 years without a building, and it was not built until the present day. What is the story behind it?

Why did the construction suddenly stop?

Yuejiang Tower in Nanjing, together with the Tengwang Pavilion in Nanchang, the Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan, the Yueyang Tower in Hunan, are known as the four great towers of Jiangnan, renowned for their famous poetries.

The construction story of Yuejiang Tower is related to Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang, the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

南京閲江樓
The Lion Hill is located in the northwestern part of Gulou District, Nanjing. It was called Lulong Mountain in ancient times. (Image Source: VCG)

After Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang ascended the throne, he ordered a pavilion to be built on Lion Hill in Nanjing. He personally named it "Yuejiang Tower", and wrote the "Note of Yuejiang Tower" (《閲江樓記》). It has been passed down to this day.

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However, it is intriguing to note that despite the existence of the Note of Yuejiang Tower, there was no sight of the actual tower. Where did Yuejiang Tower go?

In fact, Zhu Yuanzhang did not complete the construction of Yuejiang Tower.

閲江樓記
Yuejiang Tower, one of the four famous towers in Jiangnan. It is known to the world through the "Note of Yuejiang Tower" written by Zhu Yuanzhang and the grand scholar, Song Lian. (Image Source: VCG)

Zhu Yuanzhang later explained the two reasons for stopping the construction of the building: Firstly, it was because the heavens had dreamt of him and warned him not to rush the construction of the tower.

Secondly, after careful consideration, he thought that he had to complete the most urgent task first.

In those years, the country was not yet at peace and problems like floods in the Taihu Lake area and invasions by Japanese pirates occurred consecutively.

Zhu Yuanzhang had to put aside the construction plans for Yuejiang Tower to focus on managing the state affairs.

As a result, the plan was on hold for over 600 years until progress was seen in the end of the last century.

In 1997, the Nanjing municipal government officially approved the reconstruction of Yuejiang Tower. Construction began on the previously laid foundations and was completed in September 2001, bringing an end to the 600-year-old history of "record without a tower".

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Yuejiang Tower restored the magnificent view after 600 years

南京閲江樓
The current Yuejiang Tower was built on the basis of the original historical records. (Image Source: XiaoHongShu)

The current Yuejiang Tower, with a total area of over 5,000 square metres and a height of 52 metres, is a seven-storey building. The building is rich and magnificent, with the royal colours of the Ming Dynasty.

南京閲江樓
Every year in early summer, the Yuejiang Tower is filled with beautiful hydrangeas. (Image Source:XiaoHongShu)

The corridors around the tower are decorated with more than 600 small stone lions with different attitudes, which form a distinctive angular silhouette with the main building, making Yuejiang Tower even more spectacular and majestic.

Now, 600 years later, the grand view of Yuejiang Tower is once again revealed.

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