Marco Polo Bridge

Bridge in Wanping Town

Described by the great traveller himself in the 13th century, this 266m-long bridge spanning the (mostly dry) Yonding River dates to 1189 and the Jin dynasty, though it was heavily rebuilt after floods in 1698. Several hundred individually carved stone lions adorn the 11 granite and marble arches on what was once the main route into the city from the southwest.

Despite the eulogies of Marco Polo, the bridge probably wouldn’t have rated more than a footnote in Chinese history were it not for the infamous Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which ignited a full-scale war with Japan. On 7 July 1937, Japanese troops carried out a training exercise without giving customary notice to the Chinese. Shots were fired, tensions were raised and ultimately Japan decided it had sufficient pretext to attack and occupy Beijing, an outcome it had doubtless pursued from the outset.

From the subway exit, take Bus 339 and get off at Lugou Xinqiao Station.