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Wide Goose Tower

The Wide Goose Tower, originally called Daci'en Temple Tower (the Grand Mercy Temple Tower), lies in the Grand Mercy Temple of the south suburb of Xi'an City. It is the oldest and most famous ancient tower in Xi'an, considered the symbol of the old city.

In the year of 648, Li Zhi, the Tang Dynasty Emperor Gaozong, then a prince, built the temple to pray for his late-mother, Queen Wende. The temple has 1,897 rooms, the walls of which are painted with works of famous painters Yan Liben, Wu Daozi, and Yi Lin, etc., once painted their works on to add splendor the temple. Soon after the temple was completed, the master monk Xuanzang spent 19 years here to translate 74 copies of sutra after his westward trip and wrote a great work On the West Area of Tang. To protect the sutra he brought from the West Paradise, Xuanzang applied to build the Wide Goose Tower. Therefore, the temple gained widespread fame and attracted crowds of pilgrims. Unfortunately, the hall buildings of the temple were burnt down I in wars in the late Tang Dynasty (618-907), and only the tower survived. All the buildings in the present temple were reconstructed in the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The original two-storey Wide Goose Tower was covered by bricks on the surface and filled with earth. After it collapsed, it was rebuilt to a ten-storey tower. In the Chang'an Period (701-704) of Empress Wu Zetian's reign of the Tang Dynasty, the tower was reconstructed again with blue bricks. The rebuilt tower had seven storeys composed of tower base and tower body, with square-shaped plain layout. The tower base is 4.2 meters high and the body is 59.9 meters high. The 64-meter tower is of religious style with natural characteristics. The Wild Goose Tower adopts traditional Chinese architecture crafts to outline the prisms of the tower wall.

Preserved on the four stone doors in the base of the tower are exquisite engravings of the Tang Dynasty. Two steles with the Preface to the Sacred Religion written by the famous Tang calligrapher Chu Suiliang are set into the walls on either side of the south door of the tower. Because of their distinctive and elegant inscriptions, the steles are valuable data for the art of calligraphy.

Successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations always left their signature in the Temple Fair, which is called Superscription of the Wild Goose Tower. In addition, many celebrities left poems or other literary works here, among which Du Fu and Cen Cen were the most praised. On the Lantern Festival, many tourists get together to enjoy the Temple Fair of Wild Goose Tower.

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