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Shandong Province, 66km (40 miles) S of Ji'nan; 68km (42 miles) N of Qufu

Inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1987, Tai Shan (Great Mountain) is the most famous of the five Daoist sacred mountains in China, located midway between Beijing and Shanghai. Its base, in the town of Tai'an, is 150m (492 ft.) above sea level, and its summit is at 1,545m (5,068 ft.). With annual visitors numbering over four million, Tai Shan is and has always been the most climbed mountain in China. The first emperor of China scaled it. From the summit, Confucius declared that "the world is small," while Mao Zedong proclaimed that the "East is Red." Today, tourists and pilgrims, young and old, continue to make the journey, accompanied practically each step of the way by vendors peddling everything from snacks to souvenirs. Neither the highest nor the most impressive mountain in China, Tai Shan attracts visitors because of its cultural and historical significance, much of which, along with the colorful legends surrounding the different sights along the way, is lost on Westerners. However, the mountain still offers scenic vistas, interesting cultural immersion, and a good workout. During the annual International Tai Shan Climbing Festival in early September, hundreds of runners race up the mountain. Check with CITS or Tai'an Tourism for the exact dates.