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Perhaps not the most colourful of any of China’s iconic architecture and definitely not as goose-like as the name suggests, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda is still pretty special as far as ancient landmarks go. In fact, this is the most influential Buddhist site in the whole of Xian.
Originally built in the year 652 – nope we haven’t missed the ‘one’ off the start of that, it’s really that old – this pagoda dates all the way back to the Tang Dynasty. Its simplistic construction may not be China’s prettiest, but it is one of its most renowned, and it’s certainly a key symbol of this ancient city.
64.5 meters tall and made up of seven storeys, what we see today isn’t actually the original structure. Due to both weather and war damage, the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda had been rebuilt twice before becoming the tiered tower that it is today – which is nothing short of an architectural marvel, because this pagoda is built with layers of bricks minus the cement to glue them together. Yep, really. Instead, the bricks are balanced in a bracket style, typically used in traditional chinese architecture. But don’t worry, it’s definitely not falling down any time soon, promise.
Located in the Da Ci’en Temple complex, this pagoda was initially built for the study of Buddhist scriptures. The complex itself – the Temple of Kindness and Grace – was built in grand remembrance of Tang Emperor Gaozong’s mother and is fairly magnificent itself.
Like much of Xian, this is a landmark drenched in Silk Road history – so, culture vultures rejoice, this one is most definitely for you. From the delicate carvings of its base, to the cultural relics of its body, there’s plenty to see at this Buddhist attraction.
And when it comes to truly specialist sights, this pagoda boasts a lot. Two precious Sariras are housed here, meaning relics of Buddha himself brought to China from India by Shiwuqian, a Buddhist Master. Then there’s the pattra-leaf manuscript – the original scriptures that were brought to the pagoda for study – and the underground palace that serves as a living museum for visitors to the site.
And, outside of the pagoda itself, there’s still plenty to see. Music Fountain Square being the main attraction. Sitting to the north of the temple complex and covering 110,000 square meters, it’s the biggest of its kind in the whole of Asia. But this is no ordinary fountain. Here you’ll find a sight in itself as you’re invited to sit on its surrounding benches and enjoy the show of water dancing alongside lights and music. Forget Vegas’ Bellagio, it’s all about the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda’s music fountain in this neck of the woods.
In a southern suburb of the city.
Something comfortable, but remember that this is a Buddhist monument so it’s best to always be respectful. When in doubt – do as the locals do!
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