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Mount Tai lies in the centre of Shandong Province, north of Taian City, and in the east of North China Plain, its Range stretches eastwards for more than 200 kilometres along south bank of the Yellow River. The main peak of the mountain in Tai'an which is 1545 metres above sea level is located 45 kilometres south of Jinan,— the capital of Shandong. It is considered to be one of the nation's five "holiest" mountains in China. Esteemed as prior to other four ancient renowned mountains, Mount Tai was called "Daizong" in the ancient times. The mountain was formed 2,500 million years ago with the earth's primeval orogenic movement. Facing the East sea as well as the Yellow River, it cuts a conspicuous figure in China with its magnificence, loftiness, long history, numerous cultural relics and natural beauty. It is the first place in China to be listed as the world's cultural and natural heritage site by UNESCO.
It is also one of the most interesting mountains in terms of history; long the haunt of emperors who took pride in surveying their vast empires from the summit here. The numerous pavilions and temples dotted about the slopes here are testament to this royal patronage. The Mountain has been renamed by various emperors across the ages, all keen to pay great tribute to this holy Taoist spot. In 725, the Mountain was given the title of "King Equal to the Sky" and men of letters, artists and poets have all paid tribute to this holiest of spots too.
It is more than 345 miles in circumference and features in many historic events throughout the ages. It has been a rich source of inspiration for countless maxims, poetic allusions, and literary works. The path ascending the mountain is littered with poems and tributes carved in stone, proclaiming the importance and beauty of the spot. Confucius and the poet Dufu both penned poems illustrating their respect, and legend has it that those who climb the mountain will live until they are one hundred years old. The peak of the Jade Emperor, the highest spot here, rises some 1545 meters above sea level. The trek from base to summit is about 8 km long and takes approximately five hours. The climb is relatively easy until the half way point at Zhongtian Gate, from where the steps become considerably more steep.
As the materialization of the national spirit, Mount Tai has often been taken to symbolize the greatness, diligence, honesty, intelligence and tenacity of the Chinese people. For example, there is a popular Chinese saying, “As solid as Mount Tai.” Another old saying goes "One has eyes but may fail to recognize Mount Tai". This may emphasize the depth and magnificence of the mountain. Mount Tai is no longer only famous in China. Its great influence, which has passed the limits of space and time, has become world wide.