Yueyang is situated in the north of Hunan province, on the north-east bank of Lake Dongtinghu, at 113°08’E and 29°22’N. Trains travel to Yueyang from Wuhan (220km/137 miles south), the provincial capital Changsha (140km/87 miles north), Beijing, Canton and other Chinese cities.
The first urban settlement here was over 2000 years ago. In the 6th c. under the Sui, it was known as Yuezhou and was the capital of one of China’s largest regions. Today Yueyang’s main importance is as a trade centre for timber and cotton,
Yueyang Lou Tower, one of the best-known towers in southern China, stands on the bank of Lake Dongtinghu. Rebuilt in 1045, it replaced a tower built on another site in 716. During the Tang period (618-907) it served as a meeting-placefor well-known writers such as Li Bai and Du Fu (see Famous People) and Bai Juyi, who made it famous, as did the literary figure Fan Zhongyan (989-1052) in later years. The three-storey tower is almost 20m/66ft high. It is built without the use of any cross-beams or nails and stands on wooden supports. It comprises four main halls as well as 24 outer and 12 inner rooms; twelve rain spouts point sharply upwards.
Three pavilions encircle the Yueyang Tower. In front on the right is the Pavilion of the Three Drunks, dedicated to the Immortal Taoist Lu Dongbin who is said to have got drunk on the tower on three occasions.
On the left of the Yueyang Tower stands the Pavilion of the Magic Plums, named after the plum-shaped stone to be found inside it.
The third building, the Pavilion in Memory of Du Fu, stands behind the Yueyang Tower and is, as its name implies, dedicated to the poet Du Fu who died in extreme poverty in 770 on a boat anchored on the banks of Lake Dongtinghu.
Built in 713-741, this pagoda rises to a height of 39m/128ft in the southwest of the town, on the bank of Lake Dongtinghu. It was named after a Mrs Ci who sold everything she possessed in order to pay for it to be built.