Gulangyu—Garden on the Sea
Gulangyu, separated from Xiamen by the 500-metre-wide Egret River, with an area of 1.77 square kilometres, enjoys a lauditory title "Garden on the Sea." The original name of the islet was Yuan Zhou Zi. In the Ming Dynasty it was renamed Gulang, meaning ''drum waves", because the holes in the southwestern reefs hit by the waves make sounds like the drum beating.
Overlapping peaks foil the blue water, white clouds, green trees and bright flowers. The air in the islet is fresh. The entire place is free from any sorts of vehicles and is particularly quiet. All these render an atmosphere of a fairyland.
The roar of the waves breaks on the rocks. Impressive melodies surrounding and lingering on this island make famous for its piano-laden past. As a place of residence for Westerners during Xiamen's colonial past, Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for being home to China's largest piano museum. It is known as the piano island because people here love the piano. As early as 1913, students in schools run by foreigners started learning the piano. The enthusiasm for music later spread to more ordinary people on the island. Many piano families have since then come into being and produced accomplished musicians. And the number of the pianos possessed is in the leading place in the nation, though there is only a population of 20,000 people.
No tourist can afford to miss one attraction located on the island —— the nation's largest piano museum. Divided into two exhibition halls, the museum guides visitors through a vivid history of the instrument with displays and illustrations. All different types of pianos such as miniature pianos, automatic pianos, accordion pianos and round-shaped pianos, are on display.
The architecture in the islet varies greatly in , Chinese and foreign. Thus the islet has a laudatory title "the World Architecture Museum" Covered in green all the year round, it's charming, elegant, secluded and serene. A great variety of villas stand shrouded by lush wood resembling numerous jadeites embellished upon a piece of verdant silk brocade. Hundreds of flowers grown on the Riguang Rock （Sunlight Rock） vie with one another for beauty. With the caressing sea breeze, it's a quite cool place in hot summer. At the foot of the rock, there's the Memorial Hall to honor the national Hero Zheng Chenggong.
Today, Gulangyu is listed as one of the nation's major scenic spots. The main sites of interest here include the Sunlit Rock, Shuzhuang Park, Gangzihou Bathing Beach and Memorial Hall to Zheng Chenggong, which are visited annually by millions of people from all parts of the country and the world. For people living in the hustle and bustle of today's metropolis, citizens on this island seem to live in a paradise with a relaxing, healthy and placid life. Find more in our detailed introduction of the major attractions in Gulangyu Tourist Area.
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Photo credits: Wenyan Wu.