Mount Taishan, with its main peak rising 1,545 meters above sea level, in central Shandong Province, has, since ancient times, been a mountain held in high esteem by the Chinese people. It is known as the “First of the Five Sacred Mountains”, all situated on the Central Plains of the country. It ranks third among the five mountains in terms of height. Its reputation comes mostly from its cultural position. According to historical records, Mount Taishan became a sacred place haunted by emperors to offer sacrifices and meditate in the Zhou Dynasty over 1,000 years before the Christian era. A total of 72 emperors were recorded as visiting it. Men of letters also came to acquire inspiration, to compose poems, write essays, paint and take pictures. Hence, a great many cultural relics were left on the mountain.
Taishan Temple at the foot of the mountain is one of several major palace architectural complexes in China. The Azure Clouds Temple near the top of the mountain is another grand building complex, a special combination of metal components, wood, and bricks and stone structures. From the Taishan Temple to the Azure Clouds Temple there are numerous stone tablets and inscriptions and ancient buildings on the way. Visitors derive much pleasure from climbing Mount Taishan. From the red gate at the foot of the mountain to the South Heaven Gate at the top are some 7,000 stone steps, which wind their way up the mountain slopes, each step offering a different view.
Mount Taishan became part of the world cultural heritage list in 1987.