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Seek The Dragon In Beijing

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Beijing is a city with endless story. Today I will tell you a legend of the dragon. As a symbol of Chinese Mythology, the dragon has been talked about for thousands of years, and Beijing is called Dragon City. Is there a real dragon in Beijing? The answer isn’t so simple.

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picture by: 刘洪宽

The most famous story about the dragon happened in Beixinqiao. According to the legend, the dragon has been chained underground since the founding of Ming dynasty when the city of Beijing was built. At that time, people found there is an “eye of the ocean” (海眼), a term that refers to a seemingly endless water hole in the ground, believed to reach into the depth of the sea, in Beixinqiao. And the endless water from the “eye of ocean” may flood the whole city someday.

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So people struggled with how to repress the water. At that time there was an old dragon making trouble in Beijing. The city’s builder Liu Bowen, a legendary figure with insurmountable knowledge in the mystics, poetry, and strategizing among others, tamed the dragon and locked him in a well beneath Beixinqiao to protect Beijing from flooding (contrary to Western fire-breathing dragons, Chinese dragons command water and rainfall). Of course the old dragon didn’t want to be imprisoned underground permanently so he inquired Liu Bowen when he would be released. Liu promised to build a bridge over the well and would let him out when the bridge become old. Considering his own long-drawn life-span, the old dragon accepted the conditions and amenably suppressed the seawater.

But Liu duped the old dragon. He named this place where the dragon was locked Beixinqiao(North New Bridge), which means a bridge would never age .Then a temple of Yue Fei was also established to guard the well, so that the pity dragon won’t ever see the light of day.

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Hundreds of years went by, but legends about Beixinqiao and the dragon beneath it never ended. It is said that there were always curious people trying to pull the chains out. However, they would hear the sounds of ocean winds and saw the black water stirring up in the well, and most people put the chains back right away because of scare. According to some local Beijingers, many of their parents and grandparents have seen the well and the chains. Unfortunately, the exact location of the well has become a mystery. Some say it was sealed with cement, when the Dahua department store was built, at the northeast corner of the Beixinqiao intersection. There was an adventure-seeker looking for the temple and the well, but to his disappointment, the original location of the Dahua department store was in a right mess. It’s hard to see the traces of a well.

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Picture from: How to Train Your Dragon

Even though it’s uncertain the dragon exits or not, the ancient mysterious well with endless chains is real. Hope this well will be found by a man of courage one day.

In the ancient city, every alley has its own legends and stories, which contributes the mysterious unique flavor of Beijing. Welcome to Beijing to explore the secret of the oriental place with us.

The distance between BeiXinqiao and Beijing 161 Lama Temple hotel is only 900m. If you are interested in legends of Beijing, we will give you the best guide and help.

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