Jinan is the capital of the eastern province of Shandong. The economic and political power of the region has been located here since the Han Dynasty. Jinan is known as "Spring City" thanks to an abundance of natural springs in the area. The most well known of the 700 springs are Baotu Spring and Baimai Spring.
Jinan is close to several of China's finest sights. Tai Mountain is the most important of the 'Five Sacred Mountains'and is a listed UNESCO site of Natural and Cultural Heritage. It is there that many emperors came to pay homage to the earth and the sky. Close by is Lingyan Temple, one of the most important of China's ancient temples; on the same site is Pizhi Pagoda. Thousand-Buddha Mountain, just outside the city, is a legendary site for religious art.
In the town itself, Daming Lake Park is a treat for visitors, with its spring-fed water, summer lotus blossoms and fine modern fountain. A little further out is Baotu Spring Park, which is much-loved for its sweet spring water and lovely teahouse.
As a modern provincial capital, visitors will find familiar shopping malls with western brands throughout the city. However, if you are looking for something more memorable to take home, the local Lu embroidery (which uses both silk and human hair) or the famed black stoneware of Shandong are just two excellent souvenirs.
To literally get a flavor for Jinan, visitors should seek out Shandong Cuisine (Lu Cai), one of the eight great cuisines of China. The food has clear, clean flavors, often seasoned with shallot and garlic and retaining as much of the freshness of the ingredients as possible. Typical dishes include light soups, Tang Cu Li Yu (Sweet and Sour Carp), Scallion Flavored Sea Cucumber or Jinan Roast Duck. On many street corners, snack foods can be bought for pocket-change: the most common and well loved is the Quancheng Steamed Stuffed Bun. Fried dumplings, spring rolls and other lightly fried foods are popular, and when cooked properly are surprisingly un-greasy!
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