Built when Taoism was at its height, Taiqing Palace on the southern slopes of sacred Mt Laoshan in Qingdao is said to be part of a complex that comprised of several palaces, temples and nunneries. Of the seventeen buildings that are left, Taiqing Palace is the biggest and the oldest and is one of the finest examples of Taoist temples in China.
Spread over three hectares, the palace with three courtyards and 155 rooms was built around 140 BCE and unusually displays typical architectural elements of the later Song Dynasty. Big and small halls dedicated to several different deities are found around the three courtyards. The main hall in the courtyard located to the east is dedicated to the gods of heaven, earth and water whose statues are found here. However, what grabs the attention of visitors is an almost 12 foot high 600 year old tree of a winter resisting species of camellia filling the courtyard; its red blooms providing a touch of colour even at the height of winter. The most remarkable feature of the courtyard in the middle is the 49 foot high elm planted during the 8th century. Another interesting feature is the spring in the courtyard which is said to never dry up. The main hall in the area to the west has statues of Huang Di the patron saint of Daoism, gods of agriculture and medicine and a further 100 statues of renowned physicians of ancient dynasties. The cypress tree in the courtyard said to have been planted in the 3rd century, intertwined with a trumpet creeper catches the attention here.
Many historical personages have left their mark at Taiqing Palace in the form of several epigraphs. There is a 14th century imperial decree issued by Genghis Khan and a stele erected during the time of Kublai Khan his grandson.
According to available records Taiqing Palace has been restored several times over the years, each restoration no doubt contributing something of the history and architectural detail of the time.
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