South of the Yellow River as it makes its final thrust for the sea, Shandong’s capital is visited primarily by travelers en route to the popular sights of Tai Shan, Qingdao, and Qufu. It was known for its many natural springs. The most famous of these, the Black Tiger Spring, gushes out of tiger-headed spouts. In the north of city, the park surrounding Daming Hu (Big Brilliant Lake) is filled with pedal boats, ponds, gardens, and temples, and is a good place for a stroll. To the southwest is the Li Qingzhao Memorial Hall, which commemorates one of China’s most famous female poets who lived in the 12th century. There is a statue of her as well as portraits and extracts from her writings. In the southeast of the city, the slopes of Thousand Buddha Mountain (Qianfo Shan) are dotted with Buddhist statues. Several temples are situated on the summit, which is over an hour’s climb up the steps. A cable-car service is available. The earliest statuary dates from the 6th century, but many recent additions compensate for the statues broken by Red Guards. A short walk north of the mountain is the Shandong Provincial Museum. Its exhibits include Buddhist carvings, Neolithic pottery fragments (some from Long Shan nearby), and dinosaur fossils. Also on display is China’s oldest existing book made from strips of bamboo.
Near Liubu village, 21 miles southeast of Jinan, the Si Men Pagoda (Four Gate Pagoda) is known for its antiquity and unusual design. This squat, one-story stone structure with four doors is topped by a steeple, and would have housed the remains of an important monk. The pagoda, erected in AD 611 is the oldest of its kind in China. Inside is a column with statues of Buddha.