XiangYang (襄阳) was previously known as XiangFan (襄樊). It is the second largest city in Hubei (湖北) province and it has an urban population of about 2 million. It is composed of three districts: XiangCheng (襄城) is the cultural district; FanCheng (樊城) is the business district and XiangZhou (襄州) is the industrial district. XiangCheng has most of the cultural sites and FanCheng has the major shopping mall: Wanda (万达). The main railway station (火车站) is in FanCheng. From there, take bus 512 across the river to XiangCheng.
In this article I list a number of cultural sites, most of which are located in and around XiangCheng. All of these sites are accessible by public transport.
1. Ancient Longzhong (古隆中)
Ancient Longzhong is a scenic area, which is located to the west of XiangYang. It is the terminus of bus 512, which you can take from the railway station. The scenic area commemorates Zhuge Liang (诸葛亮), who was a famous military strategist. Longzhong marks the spot where he lived in seclusion for over 10 years.
The most impressive site in Longzhong is the Teng Long Pagoda (腾龙阁), which was built in the 1990s. It sits atop a small mountain and hiking to the top is a common pastime in XiangYang.
2. Guang De Temple (广德寺)
Guang De Temple is a temple complex, which is located opposite Hubei University of Arts and Sciences (湖北文理学院). To get there, you can take bus 512 from the railway station or bus 543 from Wanda. The site comprises a gate, two halls and a Pagoda that dates back to the Tang Dynasty.
The pagoda is octagonal. Each of its eight walls has an alcove that contains a statuette Buddha. Chinese tourists will go on a sort of pilgrimage here. They will put their hands together and bow their heads in front of all eight walls.
3. Mi Gong Temple (米公祠)
Migong Temple comprises a number of traditional buildings and it is located near the railway bridge in FanCheng. There are regular boats from Xiao Bei Men (小北门) wharf (in XiangCheng) that will take you there. The temple complex is dedicated to the Song Dynasty calligrapher, Mi Fu (米芾).
In the first courtyard, you will see a large tree, adorned with many red ribbons. It is common practice for people to write their hopes and dreams on ribbons as a way of ensuring future success. For me, the main attraction at Mi Gong Temple is the traditional tea house. Visitors pay 100 RMB to enjoy a taste of China’s longstanding tea culture.
4. Huang Jia Wan (黄家湾)
Huang Jia Wan is a scenic area, which is located to the west of XiangYang. It is the terminus of bus 548, which you can take from Nanhu Square (南湖广场) in XiangCheng. The scenic area commemorates the wife of Zhuge Liang, Huang Yue Ying (黄月英). Huang Yue Ying is famous for being ugly as well as for being the intellectual equal of her husband.
Huang Jia Wan is not yet complete, but it is worth visiting. There, you can see an example of the traditional Eight Symbols (八卦). This is a set of trigrams (i.e. symbols composed of three lines) that represent the Eight Immortals (八仙) that are important in Taoism.
5. Tang City (唐城)
Tang City is a movie studio and tourist village, which is located to the south of XiangYang. It is the terminus of bus 66 (which you can take from Nanhu Square in XiangCheng) and bus 534 (which you can take from Wanda in FanCheng). The site is named after China’s Tang Dynasty, which is famous for being a prosperous time for the country.
A tour of the movie studio costs 100 RMB and you need to pay this entrance fee in order to see the traditional buildings. Alternatively, you can walk around the village free of charge. Not all of it was open for business at the time of writing.
6. Xi Jia Chi (习家池)
Xi Jia Chi is a scenic area, which is located opposite Tang City. From there, you can take a shuttle bus into the park for the price of 5 RMB. The site is dedicated to the grandfather of China’s current chairman, Xi Jinping (习近平). Xi’s grandfather once stayed in XiangYang for 10 years.
The scenic area comprises a large park, a lake and a temple. The temple was closed when I visited, but there are many photo opportunities
7. Green Screen Wall (王府绿影壁)
The site of the Green Screen Wall is called Wang Fu Lv Ying Bi. In the Ming Dynasty, it was the residence of the Emperor’s uncle. The site is located in the centre of XiangCheng. To get there, walk down Nan Jie (南街) and turn left on to Lv Ying Bi Alley (绿影壁巷). Busses 1, 13 and 14 will take you there.
The site comprises two large courtyards and a traditional gatehouse. The main attraction is a freestanding shield wall that is engraved with 99 dragons. It is the largest of its kind in China.