Wordtravels

Wordtravels

Forest of Steles

Stele Forest Museum © Fan Yang
Stele Forest Museum © Fan Yang

Though there are many collections of steles (stone tablets) in China, only Xi'an's is large enough to warrant being called a forest. There are more than 3,000 ancient steles in this library, dating back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The Beilin Museum itself is nearly as old, having been established in 1087. The steles are divided into seven exhibition halls, and display classic examples of traditional Chinese calligraphy, painting, and historical records. It is a scholarly museum, and perhaps not as thrilling as some other sites, but travellers interested in history, writing, calligraphy, poetry, or philosophy will be enthralled by the ancient collection. It is recommended that visitors hire one of the library's excellent English guides, as without some assistance, a lot of the interesting history and the cultural relevance of the inscriptions will be inaccessible. Apart from its impressive collection, the museum building has lovely grounds with fountains and pagodas, making it a great place to relax after a long day of sightseeing. It is also one of the less crowded tourist attractions. Ink rubbings of some of the most famous tablets are for sale in the gift shop.

Address: 15 Sanxue St, ZhongLou ShangQuan, Beilin Qu

Website: www.beilin-museum.com

Telephone: 029 8721 0764