Standing on the shore of Dongting Lake in Yueyang City of Hunan Province, Yueyang Tower is one of "the three famous towers in the south of the Yangtze River", the other two being Tengwang Pavilion in Nanchang of Jiangxi Province and Yellow Crane Tower in Wuhan of Hubei Province. Since ancient times, Yueyang Tower has been enjoying the title of "the best tower on this planet", having equal status with "the best lake on earth"- Dongting Lake.
Originally, Yueyang Tower was mainly for military use. The construction of the tower was commissioned by General Lu Su of the Kingdom of Wu during the Three Kingdoms Period. It was designed as a tower for training, directing marine troops and for military reviews.
Since the Tang Dynasty, Yueyang Tower had gradually become a popular tourist destination as well as a favored site for romantic scholars, who would frequent the place for chanting and writing poems. The widely-read article On Yueyang Tower by the great writer of the Northern Song Dynasty Fan Zhongyan brought great fame to Yueyang Tower, making it a well-known scenic spot in South China.
No rivets or nails were used in the construction of Yueyang Tower, which is a complete wood structure, simple and unique. In the middle of the tower, four nanmu pillars run all the way to the roof, with twelve round-timber pillars propping up the second storey and another twelve Chinese catalpa wood pillars supporting the upturned eaves, thus ingeniously forming a whole. The pinnacle of the tower is like a helmet worn by an ancient general. The structure of the tower is unique in the architectural history of ancient China, holding unparalleled artistic values.
Standing on the bank of Dongting Lake, Yueyang Tower is magnificent and imposing, overlooking the 800-li-Dongting Lake scattered with sailing boats. The picturesque scenery attracted great poets of the Tang Dynasty like Li Bai, Du Fu, Bai Juyi and Li Shangyin etc, who wrote numerous poems after visiting Yueyang Tower. Many of the poems have been widely read throughout the ages.
Twelve red sandal wood tablets inscribed with the calligraphy work of On Yueyang Tower by calligrapher Zhang Zhao of the Qing Dynasty are hanging on the main wall of the tower hall. All four walls are occupied by couplets written by celebrated masters. Around Yueyang Tower, there stand Erchun (meaning "intoxicating") Pavilion and Xianmei (meaning "divine plum") Pavilion, both of which are related to folk legends.
Yueyang Tower has been renovated and reconstructed for many times. The present one was rebuilt in 1984 after the style of the tower built in the sixth year of Emperor Guangxu"s reign (1880 AD) in the Qing Dynasty. It is the only classical building of all the three famous towers in the south of the Yangtze River that retains the original style. In 2001, Yueyang Tower was listed in the first batch of the country"s 3A-level scenic areas