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The Lugouqiao, Reed Ditch Bridge, is Beijing’s oldest bridge. It was called Marco Polo Bridge in the West because Marco Polo (1254-1324) described it in “The Travels of Marco Polo”. In 1937 it was attacked by the Japanese which started the Japanese Chinese war.

It was built in 1189 by the Jin Dynasty Shizong Emperor. It has eleven arches and spans over a dried up Yongding River in south-west Beijing. This river was initially named the Wuding River, Unstable River, because of its powerful quixotic water flow. In the Qing Dynasty, Emperor Kangxi renamed it the Yongding River, Eternally Stable River. Today it is bone dry, without any sign of water.

There are 485 lions flanking the bridge. At opposite sides are two stellae, one describing a renovation in 1698, and the other with the characters “Moon over Lugou Bridge at Dawn” in the Qing Dynasty Qianlong Emperor’s calligraphy.

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