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Laoshan Mountain  

Mount Laoshan
With its highest peak rising 1133 meters above sea level, Mt. Laoshan, near the city of Qingdao, Shandong Province, is China's highest coastal mountain. Situated midway along the land mass that comprises Shandong Peninsula's Yellow Sea coastline, Mt. Laoshan is one of China's major scenic resorts, and has long held the much-envied reputation of being China's foremost coastal mountain tourist resort. The mountain covers 446 square kilometers, and boasts roughly 2 special places of interest to the tourist per square kilometer (there are 218 special places of interest in all on Mt. Laoshan).

Mt. Laoshan has a coastline of 87.3 kilometers, with 13 bays and 18 islets defining its coastal base. The sublime beauty of the old, time-hewn mountain with its many stone outcroppings, its tall pine trees and its plethora of flowers and blossoms in a pleasing variety of colors, is contrasted by the savage beauty of the sea, with its huge waves that crash against massive boulders, eroding them into strange, yet strangely beautiful, shapes. It is a natural environment for contemplation, extending the hope of an encounter with the supernatural, something that not only Taoist monks came here for, but also emperors: the first Qin (BCE 221-207) Dynasty emperor, Shi Huang (BCE 259-210), came to Mt. Laoshan hoping to meet immortals, as did Emperor Wu (CE 157-87) of the Western Han (BCE 206 – CE 9) Dynasty some three hundred years later.

Mt. Laoshan is the birthplace of Taoism, and has continued to play a central role in Taoism through the centuries, though many of Mt. Laoshan's original temples and other holy places have not survived. At the peak of Taoism, there were 9 palaces, 8 temples, and 72 nunneries on the mountain that housed nearly 1000 Taoist priests and nuns. Taiqing Palace is the largest and oldest amongst the surviving Taoist holy places on Mt. Laoshan. Built in the early years of the Northern Song (CE 960-1127) Dynasty, Taiqing Palace has a history of nearly a thousand years, and features a simple architectural style. The palace is surrounded by countless scenic sites, being the center of the entire tourist area surrounding Mt. Laoshan.