A day trip to Shaoshan, the birthplace of Mao Zedong
Hunan Province – Shaoshan is a small town (located 100 km from Changsha – the capital of Hunan Province) where Mao Zedong, the founder of the Peoples Republic of China, was born and lived during a part of his life. Nowadays, the town is well known and, above all, a place of homage and pilgrimage among Chinese people. In fact, it is the heart of the so-called “red route” of tourism or ”Red tourism”, an initiative of the Chinese Government, which since 2005, has been encouraging Chinese nationals to visit sites that are historically related to China’s revolution led by the Communist Party of China from 1921 to 1949. After the foundation of New China in 1949, millions of visitors from home and abroad come here to pay homage to Mao Zedong, bringing tourism-related revenues to this city.
Top attractions in Shaoshan
1. The Mao Zedong Exhibition Hall: located under the Yinfeng Mountain of Shaoshan, was built in 1963 and boasted 13 rooms, with a combined floor space of 2,000 square meters. It’s the only museum in the country that displays the achievements of Mao Zedong, including almost 100 pieces of Mao Zedong’s manuscripts and 72 items of Mao’s personal belongings. The exposition combines audiovisual technology with displays of relics and photographs from the time to praise the feats of Mao and his family in support of the communist revolution.
2. The bronze statue of Mao Zedong: erected in the huge Mao Zedong square, was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong (1993). It is considered the heart of the cultural and tourist activity of Shaoshan as well as is a key place for remembering the leader.
3. The former house of Mao Zedong: it is located in a prosperous flat land between mountains. There are 13 ordinary cottages made of mudbricks, grey tiles and civil structures, which the father of Mao Zedong built. He was born here on the 26th December 1893 and had spent his childhood and teenage years in this house, a traditional house of a rural family in southern China. It was damaged by the government of Kuomintang in 1929 and restored in 1950. Walking through the 18 rooms, you‘ll see family photos, daily uses, farm tools, and revolutionary materials. Most of the furnishings are arranged according to the original layout when Mao Zedong was living there.
4. The Steles Forest of Mao Zedong’s Poems: It covers 20,000 metres square and consists of 100 pieces of white marble and granite on which 50 poems by Mao have been carved. It’s located 3 km away from his former residence.
5. Water-Dripping Cave villa (Shanshan Di Shui Cave): the scenic area around the villa is wonderful with its green mountains, thick bamboo forest and flourishing flowers. Here in the ”dripping water cave ” area, was built in 1960 a villa for Mao Zedong. In June 1966, Mao Zedong went back to his hometown and lived in this villa near the cave for ten days, reluctant to leave. The short stay of Mao made the place famous. It’s located 4 km away from the Bronze statue.
Last but not least, you have to taste the smoked meat (pork, beef, mutton, chicken or duck) since it is the most famous special local product of Shaoshan. Each local restaurant offers a dish made with smoked meat and above all Mao’s favourite dish: braised pork in brown sauce.
Need to Know
How to get there: We spent 3 hours in Shaoshan, getting there by train from Changsha central railway station (30 minutes). Once out of the Shaoshan Station, you can take a local bus, a tourist bus or a taxi to reach the Visitor Centre to get your map and buy the ticket.