Located at the southeast coastal line of China, Quanzhou, formerly known to the world as Zayton in the ancient times with reputation as the greatest port in the east, trading with more than 100 countries and reigns during 10th-14th centuries. In 1291, Venetian traveler Marco Polo visited Quanzhou and described: “one shipload of pepper that goes to Alexandria or elsewhere, destined for Christendom, there come a hundred such, aye and more too, to this haven of Zayton.” With its rich culture and history, Quanzhou was rewarded as the Cultural City of East Asia and recognized as World Mult-culture Exhibition Centre and World Religions Museum.
With a resident population of 8.58 million, Quanzhou is one of Fujian’s three pivotal cities and has jurisdiction over 13 counties (cities and districts) and covering an area of 110 thousand square kilometers. Quanzhou’s economy has been leading Fujian constantly for 18 years, the GDP of Quanzhou in 2016 reached 664.7 billion yuan. As a well-known hometown of overseas Chinese, there are around 9.48 million people who can trace their origin back to Quanzhou now living or working abroad in 130 countries and regions worldwide.
As a core area and cradle of Minnan (Southern Fujian) culture, Quanzhou is characterized by its distinctive and diverse cultural heritage, known as “Hometown of Traditional Operas”, “City of Puppet Shows”, and “City of Nanyin”, to name just a few. There are a total number of 824 cultural heritage sites under government protection at all levels. Among them, 31 sites are under the state protection. There are 431 items inscribed on the representative lists of intangible cultural heritage by various Chinese governmental levels. Including Nanyin and the Chinese traditional architectural craftsmanship for timber-framed structure were inscribed on the Representative List of Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Water tight bulk-head technology of Chinese Junks was inscribed on the List of Intangible Culture Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding, and the training strategy of coming generation of puppetry practitioners was inscribed on the Register of Best Safeguarding Practice.
Scattered around Quanzhou Bay, the Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) are a serial property related to the ancient maritime trade during the city’s heyday from the 10th to 14th century that have survived to this day, including Wanshou Pagoda, Liusheng Pagoda, Shihu Dock, Estuary Docks, Zhenwu Temple, the Kiln sites at Jinjiaoyi Hill of Cizao Kilns, Statue of Mani in Cao’an Temple, Luoyang Bridge, Qingjing Mosque, Islamic Tombs, Stone Statue of Lao Tze, Kaiyuan Temple, Tianhou Temple, Site of Deji Gate, the Confucius Temple of Quanzhou and Wind-praying Carvings at Jiuri Mountain. These historical remains witnessed to the city’s glorious maritime history and cultural exchanges between different civilizations worldwide, as well as to the historical status of Zayton as the greatest port in the east from the 13th to 14th century.