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Jianshui, located in the northwest of the Red River Hani Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan Province, was the center of culture, religion, politics, economy, military and education in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. It was approved as a national level historical and cultural city in 1994. The construction of the city moat started in the 15th year of the Hongwu reign in the Ming Dynasty, and the moat was 2.3 zhang (1 zhang = 3.3 m) high and 2 zhang wide, and took 60 years to complete. Dozens of buildings built in the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China are well preserved at the Jianxin Street. Tourists from home and abroad can visit residential houses to have a nice chat and appreciate the residential architectural art of southern Yunnan Province.

The Jianshui City was originally an earthen city constructed in the Nanzhao reign, and expanded to a brick city in the 20th year (1387) of the Hongwu reign in the Ming Dynasty. When Li Dingguo took Lin'an City by storm, the south, north and west city gate towers were destructed in wars. They were restored in the fourth year of the Kangxi reign, but were damaged again later. Only the Chaoyang Gate Town at the east gate still stands there intact after several wars and earthquakes, and has a history of 600 years.

In the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Jianshui Prefecture was established, and the Ming Dynasty kept the institution without any change. In the Qianlong reign of the Qing Dynasty Jianshui Prefecture was renamed Jianshui County. In the first year of the Republic of China (1911) it was given the name Lin'an County, and was changed back to Jianshui County again the next year. The Qing court set up four academies, namely Chongzheng, Huanwen, Chongwen and Qujiang, in succession in Jianshui.

In 1994, Jianshui was proclaimed by the State Council as one of the third-grade historical and cultural cities in China.

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