Yan'an is located on a loess plateau
in northern Shaanxi Province. The old town nestles
against Phoenix Hill (Fenghuangshan), with Precious
Pagoda Hill (Baotashan) to its east, Cool Hill
(Qingliangshan) to its northeast, and the Yanhe
River flowing by. The town was of great strategic
importance in ancient wars and is steeped in revolutionary
From Yan'an, Li Zicheng (1606-1645)
and Zhang Xianzhong (1606-1646) launched an armed
peasant rebellion that overthrew the Ming dynasty
(1368-1644). The city's most important historical
period began in October 1935, when the Chinese
workers and the Red Army completed their 12,500
kilometers Long March and established a revolutionary
base against Japanese aggression. From 1937 to
1947, Yan'an was the seat of the Central Committee
of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Thousands
of patriotic Chinese youths came here to join
the revolutionary ranks against the Japanese invaders.
During those hard years, they lived in yaodongs
- artificial caves or dugouts carved into hillsides
that were traditional dwellings in Shaanxi - ate
millet they grew themselves and won the final
victory in the War of Resistance against Japan.
During the Second World War almost all the buildings,
except a pagoda, were destroyed by Japanese bombing.
When Yan'an was the center of the Chinese communist
government many prominent Western journalists
including Edgar Snow and Anna Louise Strong met
with Mao Zedong and other important leaders here
After the liberation of the country
in 1949, places of historical significance relating
to the revolution were preserved in Yan'an and
have been visited by many from both home and abroad.
Politically, Yan'an symbolizes for many a utopian
period in modern Chinese history when the communists
sought to realize their ideal vision of life,
culture and social justice. This hallowed ground
represents a former "golden age" when
communist principles and ideals were actively
pursued by many sincere, youthful supporters.