China · China travel · Travel

China travel – Jinan’s Baotu Spring, the country’s most beautiful garden

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Back in April, I took a weekend trip to the capital of Shandong Province. Jinan’s nickname is the Spring City because of its abundance of artesian springs that come from an underground aquifer. These natural springs bring up water from the aquifer under natural pressure. The water is clean and is at a constant warm temperature, different from the hot springs type found in Taiwan and Japan that are like natural saunas. The city’s most famous historic site is Baotu Spring, which Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty visited and declared was the “number one spring under heaven ( 天下第一泉- Tianxia Diyi Quan)” Baotu Spring is enclosed in a garden with numerous traditional pavilions and is presumably not used as a source of water. There are also other springs nearby which can also be visited but Baotu is the most well-known.

Ironically, I hadn’t wanted to visit Baotu Spring because it seemed like a big garden and not very interesting. But a terribly smoggy day meant I had to give up on going to Qianfo Shan (Thousand Buddha Hill) and instead go to Baotu Spring. It turned out I was dead wrong about the place. Baotu Spring was the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen in China and well worth going to.

First, Baotu Spring is much more than just a spring. It is an extensive collection of old pavilions, courtyards, and a picturesque gardens, rock structures, clumps of bamboo and ponds. There is also a hall dedicated to a famous Song Dynasty female poet Li Qingzhao (1084-1151). The main attraction is the actual spring, which is surrounded by halls and covered hallways. The place took me over two hours to walk around, and I only encountered the main spring when I saw a crowd of people gathered by a pool of water. That was the spring, in the center of which was foaming bubbles that was the water coming up from the underground aquifer. Every time the bubbles shifted position and reappeared, the crowd got excited. It may sound ludicrous but I got a little caught up by the spring too – I walked around and took photos from all four sides. Baotu Spring was so much fun that I even saw a little girl throw a tantrum by lying on the ground and refusing to leave as her parents stood by and tried to persuade her to get up.
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The main spring (above and below)
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Li Qingzhao, a famous Song Dynasty poet and the only well-known historic female Chinese poet I’ve heard of.
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Chinese comics from the 1960s-70s, part of an exhibition of 1960s stuff in a building in the complex.
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This is not Baotu Spring, but Jinan’s Quancheng Square, the blue object represents a spring, the city’s symbol
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The couple on the right are looking at their daughter having a tantrum on the ground.

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4 thoughts on “China travel – Jinan’s Baotu Spring, the country’s most beautiful garden

    1. Yes, you’re right, that was during the Qingming holiday. There were a lot of people there but the place was big enough and it wasn’t as bad as say, the October national holiday.

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  1. Isn’t it fun to be so pleasantly surprised when maybe you had expected just another garden. I love the public art – spring symbol, too. And when a child is so enthralled that she doesn’t want to leave… we should always take note from something a child thinks is amazing – it probably is but we’re in too much of a hurry or thing we’re too grown up to care.

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    1. Yes, it’s great when things turn out to be much better than you had expected. I can appreciate the child’s strong sentiments about the place; thinking back, it is sweet that even such a small child enjoyed it so much.

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