MAYOR MARCO POLO
When Marco Polo visited China in the late 13th century, he befriended Emperor Kublai Kahn, who appointed him mayor of Yangzhou for a few years.
At one end of the main axis of the old city today stands a bronze statue of the Venetian merchant/explorer.
At the other end of the stretch, research turned up foundations of battlements with a unique “turtle trap gate”, a defensive ruse to trap attacking enemies who broke through the gate in a horseshoe-shaped enclosure to have arrows, rocks and boiling oil rained upon them.
During the height of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Yangzhou’s waterway was a vibrant and prosperous cultural corridor, with scholars, philosophers, artists, craftsmen and merchants mingling along its banks.
Painter Shitao, the greatest master artist of the early Qing Dynasty (16441911), lived on the banks of the Minor Qinhuai River until his death in 1707
“The Minor Qinhuai River is famous in the collective memory for what it was once like at night,” said Samantha Schwarze, Overland’s lead architect/ planner for the river walk project. “Each night was a magical event evidently attended by men of great social status: scholars, artists, poets, who were accompanied by women of the night. These women were held in equally high regard as the men they entertained.”
As for the mayor of Yangzhou appointed by Kublai Kahn, the plan for the city’s new waterway includes a restaurant and terrace called Marco Polo’s.