China – Beijing – Lugou Qiao Bridge – 1925

The bridge was built in 1189 by the Jin Dynasty Shizong Emperor. Damaged by floods it was restored in 1444 and 1698. It has eleven arches and spans over a dried up Yongding River in south-west Beijing.
The interesting feature of the bridge is the 485 lions in all in different positions sitting on 140 balusters. The locals claimed the lions are too many to be counted. At both sides of the bridge are two stellae, one describing the renovation by the Kangxi Emperor in 1698, and the other with the characters “Moon over Lugou Bridge at Dawn” in the Qianlong Emperor’s handwriting.
It was called Marco Polo Bridge in the West because Marco Polo (1254-1324) described it in his travel book, “The Travels of Marco Polo”. This book was apparently dictated by Marco Polo and penned by a fellow prisoner in Genoa called Rusticello of Pisa, purportedly the author of a romantic tale of King Arthur. The book fascinated Europe at that time with tales of the grandeur of Chinese culture and technology, but it was then so unbelievable that the book was called Il Milione, The Million Lies and Marco Polo received the nickname Marco Millione, i.e. Marco Polo of a million lies.

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