Dali Ancient Town
Dali Ancient Town
The Ancient Town faces Erhai Lake to the east ad Cangshan Mountain to the west. The gate tower of the City is grand and the sights here are beautiful. Dali is a magnificent ancient city with a perimeter of 6 kilometers. Its former city wall is 7.5 meters high and 6 meters thick. There used to be four city gates, each on one side. On the gates were the gate towers. While Xiaguan, the capital of the Autonomous Region of Dali, depicts you a scene of prosperity and bloom, the Ancient City of Dali will give you a simple, unsophisticated and quiet impression.
Dali shows a manner of primitive simplicity. The main street of the City runs from south to north. On both sides of the street stand houses with green tiles, ancient shops and streams of workshops. The typical houses for Bai people have three rooms: one major room and two wing-rooms, and a shining wall. Right opposite the major room stands a wall. Every time when the sun is setting, the sunlight shines onto the wall and then reflects into the yard, so the whole yard is bright. So the wall is called "shining wall". This is seen even more often in Xiaguan, the City of Wind. In order to avoid the gales from the west, the major rooms of most families sit in the west and face the east. Another characteristic of the houses is that in all the four directions of a yard are rooms. In the four joints there are four small dooryards. Together with the bigger dooryard in the center of the yard, there are five dooryards altogether.
Decoration is another feature of houses for Bai people. They pay much attention to the gate and the tower. Upturned eaves, up-holding corners, arches and colorful pictures are all characteristics of their houses. Most of their windows, doors and shining walls are decorated with woodcarving of Jianchuan, marbles, colored drawings or patterns, and washes. The technique is delicate, and the style is elegant. These entire make the houses of Bai people one of the best among the houses in southwest China. Local people in Dali love flowers. There is a saying going like this: "There is a well in every three families, and several pots of flowers in every family." Most families have a flower bed in the yard where grow all kinds of flowers like camellia. On every Feb. 14th according to the lunar calendar, it is the Flower Festival. Every family puts all its potted plants in front of the house to make a "flower hill". This attracts many visitors from all directions. For their love for flowers, local people name their girls after the names of flowers. "Golden Flower" is a good name for local Bai girls, and Dali is also called the "Hometown to Golden Flowers".
The newly built Foreigners' Street is a place for the foreign visitors to gather together. The featured snacks of Bai people and famous Three Cups of Tea will sure bring you a different feeling.
On both sides of streets in Dali City there are many shops and booths selling things made from marble. Marble is also called Dali Stone in Chinese because it is produced in Dali. There are marbles on all the nineteen peaks of Cangshan Mountain. The marble has exquisite texture and unique veins. It is colorful and glitters translucently. The development and utilization of marbles began in the Kingdom of Nanzhao in as early as Tang Dynasty. All kinds of craftworks made from marbles are available in these shops and booths such as screens, brush pots and vases.