|UNESCO World Heritage Site|
|Criteria||Cultural: i, ii, vi|
|Inscription||1994 (18th session)|
"Wudang Mountains" in Simplified (top) and Traditional (bottom) Chinese
The Wudang Mountains (simplified Chinese: 武当山; traditional Chinese: 武當山; pinyin: Wǔdāng Shān) consist of a small mountain range in the northwestern part of Hubei, China, just south of Shiyan. They are home to a famous complex of Taoist temples and monasteries associated with the god Xuanwu. The Wudang Mountains are renowned for the practice of Tai chi and Taoism as the Taoist counterpart to the Shaolin Monastery, which is affiliated with Chinese Chán Buddhism. The Wudang Mountains are one of the "Four Sacred Mountains of Taoism" in China, an important destination for Taoist pilgrimages.
On Chinese maps, the name "Wudangshan" (Chinese: 武当山) is applied both to the entire mountain range (which runs east-west along the southern edge of the Han River, crossing several county-level divisions of Shiyan), and to the small group of peaks located within Wudangshan subdistrict of Danjiangkou, Shiyan. It is the latter specific area which is known as a Taoist center.
The first site of worship—the Five Dragons Temple—was constructed at the behest of Emperor Taizong of Tang. Further structures were added during the Song and Yuan dynasties, while the largest complex on the mountain was built during the Ming dynasty (14th–17th centuries) as the Yongle Emperor claimed to enjoy the protection of the god Beidi or Xuan Wu. Temples regularly had to be rebuilt, and not all survived; the oldest existing structures are the Golden Hall and the Ancient Bronze Shrine, made in 1307. Other noted structures include Nanyang Palace (built in 1285–1310 and extended in 1312), the stonewalled Forbidden City at the peak (built in 1419), and the Purple Cloud Temple (built in 1119–1126, rebuilt in 1413 and extended in 1803–1820).
On January 19, 2003, the 600-year-old Yuzhengong Palace at the Wudang Mountains burned down after accidentally being set on fire by an employee of a martial arts school. A fire broke out in the hall, reducing the three rooms that covered 200 square meters to ashes. A gold-plated statue of Zhang Sanfeng, which was usually housed in Yuzhengong, was moved to another building just before the fire, and so escaped destruction in the inferno.
The Purple Cloud monastery at Wudang Mountains
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At the first national martial arts tournament organized by the Central Guoshu Institute in 1928, participants were separated into practitioners of Shaolin and Wudang styles. Styles considered to belong to the latter group—called Wudangquan—are those with a strong element of Taoist neidan exercises. Typical examples of Wudangquan are Taijiquan, Xingyiquan and Baguazhang. According to legend, Taijiquan was created by the Taoist hermit Zhang Sanfeng, who lived in the Wudang mountains.
Wudangquan has been partly reformed to fit the PRC sport and health promotion program. The third biannual Traditional Wushu Festival was held in the Wudang Mountains from October 28 to November 2, 2008.