The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing - Seven Wonders

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The Porcelain Tower (or Porcelain Pagoda) of Nanjing, also known as Baoensi (meaning "Temple of Gratitude"), is a historical archaeological site located on the south bank of the Yangtze in Nanjing, China. It was constructed in the 15th century as a Buddhist pagoda, but was mostly destroyed in the 19th century during the course of the Taiping rebellion. However, the tower is now under reconstruction once again. The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing is one of the seven wonders of the Medieval Mind and one of the seven wonders of the world.

The tower was octagonal with a base of about 97 feet in diametre. When it was built, the tower was one of the largest buildings in China, rising up to a height of 260 feet with nine stories and a staircase in the middle of the pagoda, which spiraled upwards for 130 steps. The top of the roof was marked by a golden sphere. There were originally plans to add more stories, according to an American missionary who in 1852 visited Nanjing.

The tower was built with white porcelain bricks that were said to reflect the sun's rays during the day, and at night as many as 140 lamps were hung from the building to illuminate the tower. Glazes and stoneware were worked into the porcelain and created a mixture of green, yellow, brown and white designs on the sides of the tower, including animals, flowers and landscapes. The tower was also decorated with numerous Buddhist images.

The Porcelain Tower of Nanjing was designed by the Chinese Emperor Yongle shortly before its construction, in the early 15th century. It was first discovered by the Western world when European travelers visited it, sometimes listing it as one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

In 1801 a bolt of lightning struck and knocked off the top three stories of the tower, but it was soon restored. In the 1850s the area surrounding the tower erupted in civil war as the Taiping Rebellion reached Nanjing and the Taiping Rebels took over the city. They smashed the Buddhist images and destroyed the inner staircase to deny the Qing enemy an observation platform.

American sailors reached the city in May 1854 and visited the hollowed tower. In 1856 the Taiping destroyed the tower in order to prevent a hostile faction from using it to observe and shell the city. After this point, the tower's remnants were forgotten and it lay dormant until a recent surge to try and rebuild the landmark.

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