In the history of human civilization, there existed a route network of maritime transportation and trade that connected many nations and regions across the vast waters between the Western Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean, using monsoon forces to guide navigation. As the most important channel of cultural and civilizational exchanges between the East and the West in ancient times, this route network is what we called the Great Maritime Routes. More than seven centuries ago, Marco Polo, a famous merchant of Venice, completed his great tour via the maritime routes. Today, like the WHS Venice and Its Lagoon at the western part of the maritime routes, Quanzhou, known as Zayton in the history, retains an abundance of historic remains representing both its maritime history and its diverse civilizations at the eastern part of the great maritime routes.
The nominated property of “Historic Monuments and Sites of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton)” include multiple monuments and sites related to maritime trade and culture that have survived to this day from the Song and Yuan dynasties (10th-14th century) when ancient Quanzhou was known to the world as “Zayton”. With a property area of 101.14 hectares and total buffer zone of 581.82 hectares, these monuments and sites are distributed around Quanzhou Bay with Quanzhou City as the core, including 16 component parts. The whole series represent the navigation and trade system of Quanzhou, as a crucial port city of the world in the Song and Yuan Dynasties.
In terms of spatial layout, functions and technical features, the rich and diverse international and historic multicultural heritage, in an integrated and outstanding manner, the leading level of maritime transportation facilities, cultural exchanges and port construction achieved during the heydays of maritime civilization in the history of China, an empire that has long been an agricultural civilization. The nominated property also bear testimony to the historical position and maritime navigation and trade practices of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) as the strategic port city in the East during the Song and Yuan dynasties as well as its social and cultural features developed through international exchanges. From various perspectives, these monuments and sites are, as a whole, to present the prosperous scene of Ancient Quanzhou (Zayton) as a key international port along the Great Maritime Routes during the period from the 10th to 14th century.
The serial property bear testimony to the historical position and maritime navigation and trade practices of ancient Quanzhou as a strategic and prosperous port city and hub of economic and cultural exchanges between the East and the West during the period from the 10th to 14th Century. The major elements of seafaring history include unique ocean conception and the formation and spread of the worship of the sea god, the religious and cultural exchanges with the outside world and its integration and harmonious coexistence in Quanzhou, they are also directly associated with the significant events of Zheng He’s Treasure Voyages to the West and inextricably linked to the spread of Islam, Manichaeism, Hinduism and Nestorianism in coastal southeast China. They also appear in literary works such as the Travels of Marco Polo, Travels of Friar Odoric, Ibn Battuta’s Rihla, and ancient historical documents. These events, activities and documents had a great influence upon the history of China and even the world.