MAYOR MARCO POLO

China Daily (Canada) - - IN DEPTH -

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.

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