With its highest peak rising 1,133 meters above sea level, Mt. Laoshan is situated on the southeastern Shangdong peninsula. Facing the Yellow Sea, it is one of China's major scenic resorts and has long held the reputation as the No. 1 Famous Mountain on the Sea.
The entire mountain covers 446 square kilometers and has 218 places of interest, big and small.
It is a famous Taoist mountain boasting both mountainous and coastal scenery. Among all the well-known mountains across China, it is the only one on the coast. It has a coastline of 87.3 kilometers, with 13 bays and 18 islets nearby. Rambling along a stone-planked path on the mountainside, you will be touched by both huge tides on the sea and lush pine trees and misshaped rocks on the shore, and will thus feel broad-minded and relaxed. Legend has it that some 2,500 years ago, the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206BC) came here hoping to meet immortals, and later so did Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), giving a mysterious air to Mt. Laoshan.
At the peak of Taoism, there were nine palaces, eight Taoist temples, and 72 nunneries that housed nearly 1,000 Taoist priests and nuns on the mountain. At present, the Taiqing Palace is the largest and oldest among the preserved Taoist establishments. First built in the early Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), the palace has a history of nearly 1,000 years and features a simple architectural style. It is surrounded by countless scenic spots and is the center of the entire tourist area.
The Western Memorial Temple for Guan Yu and Yue Fei in the Sanqing Palace is a must for visitors to Mt. Laoshan, because it was formerly a residence of Pu Songling, a renowned novelist of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Many stories in his novel Strange Tales from a Lonely Studio have Mt. Laoshan as the backdrop. In front of the Sanguan Hall there is a 700-year-old camellia shrub. Among the largest camellias in the world, it is 8.5 meters tall, and its trunk is 1.78 meters around. When blooming in midwinter, its flowers look like a layer of deep-red snow covering its green leaves. There was originally a white peony that reached the hall's eaves. Pu Songling dwelled here during his late years, with the camellia and the peony as his neighbors. The two flowers turned into two pretty women who fell in love with a young literati in his fairy tale Xiangyu.
Among the places of interest near the Taiqing Palace are the Elm Shaped Like a Dragon's Head and the Stone Carvings on the Cliff.
Mt. Laoshan is known for its oddly shaped rocks, ancient trees, and crystal-clear springs. Among the most famous springs are the Tianyi Spring on the mountaintop, the Shenshui (Immortal Water) Spring in the Taiqing Palace, and the Shengshuiyang (Ocean of Holy Water) Spring in the Shangqing Palace. People say the mineral water produced here can cure chronic diseases.