What if we told you that you don’t need a space shuttle to travel to the moon, but just a gate – a moon gate to be precise?
While doomsday scrolling through your phone, you might have heard talks about dating in space with the moon in view. Or even about Amazon’s founder Jeff Bezos jetting off to outer space on the anniversary of Apollo 11, when the first man landed on the moon (he’s bringing passengers too). As rea as these experiences are, the catch is that you’ll need to fork out millions in cash just to see the moon up close in real life.
If only there were other-worldly portals that can transport you to the rocky terrains of the moon! Enter: moon gates.
Okay, so maybe you won’t be whisked away to the moon after walking through a moon gate, but hear us out. These 10 moon gates scattered across the world are located in beautiful locations and are worth checking out when the pandemic dies down.
What are moon gates?
Legend has it that in ancient China, it’s believed that there are two moons in the sky. When these moons perfectly align with each other, a portal will open and form a connection between the Heavens and Earth. Therefore, the name yueliangmen (月亮门) came to be.
With its Chinese origins, moon gates are part of traditional Chinese architecture in which they are openings to gardens and houses. In the past, these spherical gates are normally built in upper-class homes as a way to look more inviting for visitors.
Typically, moon gates are built embedded into walls, but as its reach grew outwards from China, many countries in the West have adopted moon gates to be free-standing structures. Moon gates are said to have different spiritual meanings, with some regarding it as good luck to pass through one.
Moon Hill in Guilin, China
If you’re traversing in and around Guilin, China, you can check out this unique natural phenomenon that’s situated just a few kilometres outside Yangshuo county. Also known as the Moonlight Mountain, it’s aptly named by the semi-circular hole that looks like a rising moon. It’s a popular tourist spot and requires a 20-minute brisk hike up to the arch.
Elephant Trunk Hill in Guilin, China
Continuing on your voyage amongst the majestic mountains in Guilin, and located an hour’s drive away from Moon Hill, is where you can find the Water-Moon Cave embedded in Elephant Trunk Hill. During the night, it’s said that the reflection of the water and the cave’s shape create a beautiful illusion of the moon floating on the river. It’s also said that many famous poets visit the caves, and there’s solid proof of that – cave inscriptions of poems that date back to the Song dynasty.
Mên-an-Tol in Cornwall, UK
A 12-minute drive from Madron, Cornwall will take you to the Mên-an-Tol stone formations that date back to the early Bronze Age, making it nearly 3500 years old. Locally known as the ‘Crick Stone’, there are many legends about this stone – from being able to cure diseases to granting fertility in women.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden in Suzhou, China
As one of the most famous gardens in Suzhou, China, and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, The Humble Administrator’s Garden is a stark contrast amidst the hustle and bustle of modern-day China. With its calming, zen-like charm, it’s no wonder that the garden is a valuable cultural relic worth visiting.
Las Pozas, Xilitla, Mexico
Las Pozas was British poet Edward James’ passion project. It’s a surrealist’s playground, built with preserving the Mexican jungle in mind. At the entrance of Camino de los 7 pecados capitales (Road of the Seven Deadly Sins), a moon gate whisks away all sense of normalcy and transforms the tropical landscape into an otherworldly art museum with free-standing structures of gravity-defying heights.
Red Brick Art Museum in Beijing, China
If you have a fond appreciation for all things art- and architecture-related, head on towards the Red Brick Art Museum located in the Chaoyang district of Beijing. This red-brick behemoth boasts 10,000m² of exhibition space. Designed with a theme of harmonising industrial elements with nature, the museum is a stark contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life.
Guilin Park in Shanghai, China
Initially a private residence, the urban park has become a popular place to unwind amongst the locals. We can definitely see why! With its elaborate oriental decor suitable as a backdrop for taking OOTDs and hanfu cosplaying, it’s no wonder that many come to this place to fully immerse themselves in traditional Chinese garden architecture. The entrance fee to the park is only RMB2 (approximately USD0.31 or RM1.30).
Kinney Azalea Gardens in Rhode Island, USA
Nestled in Kingston, a village in Washington County, is a botanical garden famed for its massive catalogue of azaleas and rhododendrons. The Kinney Azalea Gardens is one of Rhode Island’s best-kept secrets hidden behind a historic home. Locals flock here on weekends to enjoy the scenery, have a picnic, and take Instagram-worthy photos during the blossoming season (from early February to September).
Bridges to the other side
Rakotzbrücke in Saxony, Germany
Located in Kromlau Park, this 19th-century bridge was specifically designed and built to form a perfect circle (or moon) when reflected against the waters beneath. Otherwise known as The Devil’s Bridge, its name came about from the belief that the precariously-built bridge is dangerous for a mere mortal to construct and cross, that it must have been the work of Satan.
Unbothered by tales of the devil, many have come to visit the park to catch a glimpse of the symmetrical reflection. However, tourists are not allowed to cross the bridge due to conservation purposes.
Koishikawa-Kōrakuen in Tokyo, Japan
The Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens is an Edo-period park situated in the busy city of Tokyo, Japan. You can find multiple miniature replicas of famous landmarks from Japan and China peppered across the park, and is a fun activity to do while having a relaxing stroll. While walking through the picturesque grounds, you’ll come across a stone bridge named Engetsu-kyo. True to its name, the reflection cast upon the small stream running beneath the stone bridge shows a perfectly circular reflection that resembles the moon.
Sue aspires to be a writer with a passion. Hailing from sunny Malaysia, Sue lives to eat and doesn't mind having thosai for breakfast everyday. Her dream is to one day swim with her all-time favourite animal, whale sharks.
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