Fenghuang County is located in Xiangxi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture, Hunan Province, China. It has an exceptionally well-preserved ancient town that harbors unique ethnic languages, customs, arts as well as many distinctive architectural remains of Ming and Qing styles. Fenghuang means "Phoenix" in Chinese, the mythical bird of good omen and longevity that is consumed by fire to be re-born again from the flames. Therefore, Fenghuang ancient town is also knon as Phoenix ancient town, which is a famous scenic attraction in China because of the well kown Chinese novel "Border Town" written by Shen Congwen.
Fenghuang County is divided into two districts: New Town and Ancient Town. Fenghuang Ancient Town's history can be dated back to Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC to 476 BC). The presenting Fenghuang Ancient Town was built in the 43 year of the Reign of Emperor Kangxi of Qing Dynasty (1704), where the ancient buildings in distinct Qing Dynasty style are well preserved. Fairly long history endows it with over 300 culture heritages, such as Huang Si Qiao Castle, the best preserved stone castle built in Tang Dynasty (year 687); the meandering Xiangxi Border Walls, which was built during Ming Dynasty, is praised highly as China'sSouth Great Wall; and the flagstone paths paved during Ming and Qing Dynasties. Besides, there are famous ancient buildings including Longevity Palace, Chao Yang Palace and Heavenly King Temple.
The Fenghuang ancient town is placed in a mountain setting, incorporating the natural flow of water into city layout, covering an area of 1700 square kilometers with a population of 37,000. Most of its population is made up of Miao or Tujia minorities. It was the center of the Miao Rebellion (1854–73) that brought devastating Qing repression and massacre, initiating the diaspora of Hmong/Miao into South East Asia during the last two centuries. The city is revered in Miao traditions and funeral rites and is the location of the "Suav Tuam Choj" or "Wall built by Chinese", also known as the Southern Wall built by the Ming dynasty to segregate and impoverish the Miao.
Fenghuang presents the world the appearance of an ancient town. It has a main street and amounts of stone alleyways snake between houses that are built on stilts. The Tuojiang River, the Mother River of Fenghuang County, has incredible beauty with wooden houses casting reflections on the water and boatmen paddling their rafts. Its bustling market lies in the main street with arrays ofspecialty shops selling local products such as silverware, handmade items, batik textiles.
However, Fenghuang ancient town offers far more than natural beauty. With a history of over 300 years, it is crammed with historical sites. The Southern Great Wall in Fenghuang was built in Ming Dynasty (1644-1911) for the purpose of defend against the revolt of Miao Ethnic Group. Moreover, Fenghuang is home to a multitude of talents, including generals, leaders, writers, artists and calligraphist. The famous writer Shen Congwen, artist Huang Yongyu, famous politician and educator Xiong Xiling, who portrayed the Phoenix Town in their masterpieces, leads this unsung small town known to China and even the world.