A Visit to Emperor Wu Zetian’s Palace

Wu Zetian, the first and only female emperor in China. Born into a wealthy family, she was privileged to have read aplenty and received quality education. Wu was taken to be Emperor Taizong’s concubine at the age of 19 but was never a favourite. Now this is the ridiculous part – after Taizong’s death she remarried, to Taizong’s successor and ninth son, Emperor Gaozong!

Wu progressively gained increasing influence over the governance of the empire throughout Emperor Gaozong’s reign and was eventually making major decisions on behalf of the emperor. She was seen as ruthless in her power-struggle endeavours and was believed by some historians to have even murdered her own flesh in order to frame her competitors.

前阵子,由范冰冰主演的一部大陆电视剧《武媚娘传奇》正在热播,在国内掀起了一阵“武则天热潮”。这位唐代的传奇女性一直被后人与历史学家们啧啧称奇。

自小博学多才的武氏年幼入宫被封为唐太宗的五品才人,称号“武媚”。在侍奉太宗之际,武氏虽未得宠,但也因此与太宗的九子李治相识并产生爱慕之心。当李治登基成为唐高宗之后,已剃发出家的武才人被召回宫,成了高宗的妃子(在回宫之前就已怀孕)。回宫之后的武氏如日中天,从二品昭仪晋升为皇后,并在高宗患重病期间更是为其代理朝廷重事。高宗过世后,太子李显即位(唐中宗),武则天被封皇太后。但中宗的皇位没坐多久便被武氏谋夺,自号“圣神皇帝”。武则天即位时已经67岁,她是中国史上即位最晚,寿命最长的皇帝之一(终年82岁)。

即使在今天的社会,这样的罗曼史也同样会被归为乱伦吧,更何况是一千三百年前的封建社会。自隋唐起,后人们对武则天的评价不一,角度也各为不同。唐代前期,由于所有的皇帝都是她的直系子孙,所以当时对她的评价相对比较积极正面。可是随着时间推移,当儒家正统观念占据社会思想的统治地位后,学者们的眉头便皱得很紧了。特别是在司马光所主编的《资治通鉴》里,便对武氏进行了严厉批判。

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During her political heyday, Wu instructed the construction of two architectural miracle of the time – Ming Tang and Tian Tang. The former for meetings with government officials and the latter for religious ceremonies. These ancient architects were long gone with the passing of time (in fact, Tian Tang was burnt by a monk with whom Wu was having an affair, 6 years after it was built).

Located in the Luoyang city center today, the Sui-Tang Luoyang City National Heritage Park is a new tourist attraction constructed on the remnants of the palaces when Luoyang was China’s imperial capital during the Sui (589-618 BC) and Tang dynasties (618-907 AD). It aims to emulate the original Ming Tang and Tian Tang and provide a glimpse of the history to its modern visitors.

隋唐洛阳城国家遗址公园位于洛阳市中心,是国家遗址保护示范项目和重点工程之一。这里曾是隋、唐、五代和北宋的都城遗址,岁月的沧桑使得当年的绚丽辉煌不复存在,而许多重要的文物遗迹也一直沉睡于地底。但遗址公园内的天堂与明堂的复制建筑,将这沉睡千年的文明遗产重新注入了新生命。

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Ming Tang exterior

明堂外观

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A rebuild of the grand Assembly Hall to imitate the splendour and opulence during Wu’s political zenith.

明堂内观

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Tian Tang – a 9 storey building, standing tall and proud. Based on historical records, Tian Tang was destroyed in an arson. The fire was set by the same monk who oversaw the construction project and the reason why he burnt his labour of love was love itself. He was once a love interest of Emperor Wu and stayed by her side for years after the death of her second husband. However, common as all other Emperors who had hundreds and thousands of concubines, Emperor Wu had a collection of her own, albeit only a few. So, it was said that Monk Shang lost his favouritism to the Emperor’s imperial doctor and out of jealousy, he set Tian Tang ablaze and lit up the Luoyang sky in a raging crimson.

天堂遗址是武则天时期的礼佛堂,是由和尚薛怀义所主持建造。天堂在历史上仅存在了短短七年,便毁于一场大火(据说是薛怀义发现自己失宠后,在嫉妒心的驱使下,纵火烧毁了天堂)。2013年修建的新天堂为外五层内九层,象征武则天九五之尊的历史地位。

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First storey – a grand hall.

天堂的一楼大厅,富丽堂皇。

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Valuable art pieces can be found on every storey

每层楼都展示了隋唐文化的巅峰之作

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A peaceful but monumental looking Buddha resting atop the tower. The entire floor appeared as though it was made of gold!

天堂的最顶层,坐着一尊巨大的佛像。金碧辉煌的装潢非常有气场!

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Here’s just a photo taken while cousin and I were making our way to the heritage park during an afternoon shower. I love the refreshing shades of green that decorated the city with high spirits and ebullience.

四月的午后小雨,漫步于绿意盎然的街道间,惬意,惬意。


Travel Tips and Information:

  • Address: Zhongzhou Middle Road, Lao Cheng District, Luoyang, China
  • Opening hours: 8:30 – 17:30
  • Entrance Fee: RMB 120
  • Tel: +86 379 6312 2277
  • Estimated time for sightseeing: 2 hours
  • More information on channelnewsasia.com/henan

旅游小贴士:

  • 地址:定鼎路与中州路交汇处,洛阳市
  • 开放时间:8:30 – 17:30
  • 门票:人民币120元
  • 电话:+86 379 6312 2277
  • 建议游玩时间:2小时
  • 更多资讯,请查看亚洲新闻网
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