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uschinaarts.org - Weishan Valley

Weishan Valley

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Weishan Map

Approximately 75 kilometers south of Dali is the historic City of Weishan. This important City is the governmental seat of the County of Weishan within the Dali Prefecture of Yunnan Province. Weishan has long had regional importance as a way-station along the Southern Silk Road and was the birthplace of the historic Nanzhao Empire.

Originally four gates, on the north, south, east and west, allowed entry to the walled City of Weishan, which developed around a central Drum Tower. The tower and its crossroads are a rare 14th century townscape, with buildings, courtyards and gardens dating from the Ming and Ching dynasties. While the original walls are gone, Weishan’s dominant feature is its extensive historic district with many excellent examples of Chinese architecture, as well as its relationship to the valley and views of the adjacent “Sacred Mountain,” which is one of the most important Taoist centers in all of China. The Sacred Mountain is home to more than twenty temples. Weishan Valley includes the entire area between the mountains, including the foothills, valley floor, villages, towns, hamlets and the City of Weishan.

The people of the Weishan Valley depend on a rich and diverse agricultural base for their livelihood. Han, Muslim, Yi, and other minority nationalities are expert farmers of rice, tea, tobacco, fish and corn. In addition, there are rural industries dependent on local natural resources,including small manufacturers of roof tiles, charcoal, tie-dye, and eucalyptus oil.

Over 450 villages, towns and hamlets are spread throughout the valley. Approximately half of these communities are in the foothills of the two mountain ranges that define the valley. The others are located throughout the valley floor http://cialisviagras.net/. Of those villages within the valley floor, approximately 50 are located along or within a kilometer of the main highway.


The entire Weishan Valley is at a crossroads as the scenic, natural and historic features of the agricultural valley and the City of Weishan have come under significant pressure from growth. This growth has compromised the historic city’s sense of place, replacing traditional architecture, agricultural landscapes and craft industries with sprawling modern development that could be anywhere in the world.

In 2007, Tongji University of Shanghai produced a draft Preservation Plan for the City of Weishan which is has some good components and features a commendable survey of historic structures. However, the Plan’s projection of 10,000 tourists a day visiting Weishan is a cause for concern. The Weishan Preservation Plan also raises concerns regarding the demolition of buildings along the South and West walls of Old Weishan that are worthy of preservation; the wholesale transformation of mixed use courtyard houses to lodging and boutiques; the reconstruction of historic monuments that does not follow international best practices; and the proposed massive ring roads and single-use districts adjacent to the historic city.

Previous Work

Weishan Planning Team
Weishan planning team at work.

In June 2001, a team of urban design, tourism and land-planning professionals visited Weishan and the surrounding valley to provide recommendations for preserving and enhancing the historic city and its surrounding agricultural landscape, assess the potential for international tourism, and identify a preservation and sustainable development strategy that includes cultural and eco-tourism, in which specific trail systems for hiking, biking and touring were identified. This was a Yunnan Initiative Demonstration Project of the Center for United States-China Arts Exchange (the Center). Other partners in this project included Openlands Project in Chicago and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Click here to review text from the 2001 report titled, The Weishan Heritage Valley: Recommendations for Preservation and Future Growth.

In July 2007, planners from SOM and other partners organized by the Center traveled to Weishan to do an on-site review of a draft master Preservation Plan for historic Weishan, undertaken by Tongji University of Shanghai for the city of Weishan. In September 2007, the team submitted their recommendations to the Chinese Team for consideration. Click here to review SOM’s recommendations contained in the 2007 report titled, The Weishan Heritage Valley: Summary of Recommendations for Weishan Preservation and Planning Principles.