Chengdu is Sichuan's capital. As Sichuan is often refereed as the "Heavenly Kingdom", Chengdu is full of rich cultural heritage. And Chengdu is the administrative and educational center. Compared with Beijing, Chengdu has greener landscapes, overhanging wooden housing in the older parts of town, and a very different kind of atmosphere in the streets. Chengdu created great culture from its fabulous history through its connection to the southwest Silk Road. Chengdu is famous most of all for Sichuan cuisine, most of which is spicy.
Built in 316 BC during the late Warring States Period as the Dujiangyam dam and irrigation system was put in place, Chengdu boasts a 2300-year history. By the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) the city was considered a cornerstone of Chinese Society. Like other major Chinese cities, the place has had its share of turmoil. First it was devastated by the Mongols in retaliation for the fierce fighting put up by the Sihuanese. From 1644 to 1647 it was presided over rebel Zhang Xiangzhou, who set up an independent state in Sichuan, ruling by terror and mass executions.
Three centuries later the city was set up as one of the last strongholds of the Kuomintang. The name 'Chengdu' means Perfect Metropolis, and today around three millions people inhabit there. The original city was walled with moat, gates at the compass points and the Viceroy's Palace (14th century) as its heart. The latter was the imperial quarter. The remains of the city walls were demolished in the early 1960s, and the Viceroy's Palace was blown to smithereens at height of the Cultural Revolution.
And one of the most interesting aspects of the city is its artisan community: small-time basketweaver, cobblers, itinerant dentists, tailors, house-ware merchants and snack hawoers who swarm the street and contribute to its bustling energy. But like the other major cities of China, Chengdu also abounds with newfound affluence. Since Deng Xiaoping announced that "to be rich is to be glorious" in 1980, Chengdu became one of the most prosperous, liberal, and fashionable cities in the region. There are bustling commercial markets everywhere, the department stores are crowded with the latest consumer goodies, and locals dresses in Hong Kong fashions zip around town on motorbikes and multi-geared mountain bikes.
Sichuan cuisine is world-famous and in a class of its own. The Chinese claim that it comprises more than 4000 dishes, of which over are said to be famous. Sichuan is known for its spicy food. It is often using huajiao, literally 'flower pepper', a crunchy little item that leaves a numbing and unfamiliar aftertaste. Anyone who has ever eaten in a
Chinese restaurant can be assured of the knowledge that if they order an item with Sichuan in its name, they will receive something not only delicious but also something spicy.
A famous dish is spicy chicken fried with peanuts (gongbaojiading). Equally well known is mapo doufu, which are bean curd, pork and chopped spring onions in a chili sauce. And yuxiang wei, a really tasty-fish-flavored sauce that draws heavily on vinegar, soy sauce and mashed garlic is another delight. Mala wei, a numbingly spicy sauce that is often prepared with bean curd, and yanxun wei, a 'smoked flavor' sauce, of which the most justifiably famous is that used with smoked duck; and, perhaps most famous of all, the hot and sour sauce (suanla wei). The hot and sour group, suanla tang, is eaten throughout China and is great on a cold day.
Chengdu is one of many cities along the Southwest SilkRoad. And Chengdu developed as producing Silk. To this day, Silk industry is developing in Chengdu. Chengdu is the home of Sichuan opera, which has a 200-year tradition, which features slapstick dress-ups, eyeglass-shattering songs, and occasional gymnastics. There are several scattered throughout the older section of town.
Tourism industry of Chengdu is has also flourishing with the other industries. And as it has deep and great culture roots, there are a lot of sights worth seeing. Wenshun Monastery is Chengdu's largest and best-preserved Buddhist places of worship. Originally known as Xinxinang Temple, it was renamed after a Buddhist monk who lived there in the late 17th century. It is believed that his presence literally illuminates the monastery. Many of the buildings in the complex are decorated with exquisite relief carvings.
In Temple Parks, there are a couple of worthwhile temple parks. Due west of Mao in the western section of the circular road is Wenhua Park, home to Qingyang Palace. It is the oldest and most extensive Taoist temple in the Chengdu. In addition, Renmin Park is one of China's renowned parks. It is to the southwest of the city center. The teahouse here is excellent and it is perfect perch for watching people walk by on a lazy afternoon.
Another museum, the Sichuan Museum is the largest provincial museum in China's southwest, with more than 150,000 items on display. On display are many tiles, murals, and frescoes in their depiction of ancient daily activities, from agriculture to dance.