Dali Ancient City, also called Yeyu City, Forbidden City, Zhonghezhen, lies 3 kilometers north from Xiaguan, the capital of Dali Prefecture. Embracing Erhai Lake in the east and adjoining Cangshan Mountain in the west, Dali City was first established in the early period of the Ming Dynasty, and then an administrative organ called “wei” was set up. The one who was in charge was granted the title “Commanding Envoy of the Dali Wei”. Now in dali, the place name “the Gate of Wei” is still used among the people. In the Qing Dynasty, the military commander of Yunnan was stationed in Dali. Yixidao, Dalifu (Dali Prefecture) and Taihexian (Taihe County) were established. In the second year of the Republic of China, Dali was renamed Taihe County. Now it is called Zhonghe Town of Dali City.
The circumference of Dali Ancient City was 6 kilometers long. The City Wall is 8 metres high and 7 meters thick. The interior of the wall was filled with rocks and the surface was bricked over smoothly. The four gate towers in the east, south, west and north are named Chen En, Tong Hai, Cangshan and An Yuan respectively. There are also 45 battlements and 1560 crenels on the walls. A defensive river was surrounding the city. The streets and avenues in the city now are crisscrossing each other, typical of chessboard pattern. The buildings are all covered with dark blue tiles and pebble-staked walls. All look very pristine and delicate. The residents all like to plant trees and flowers. There are garden in every house. The famous Dali camellia, azalea and orchids are competing to show their beauty, blooming against snow on Cangshan mountain. Red flowers and green grass are coming out from wall, making up flowers streets. Streams from Cangshan mountain come into the city, going across the streets and visiting every family with their happy sound and sweet taste, running eastwards to Erhai lake. The whole city looks fresh and wet, without any dust.
In the city, historical relics such as the headquarters of Du Wenxiu, leader of a peasant uprising, and relevant stone steles still remain today. The headquarters is virtually a city within the city of Dali, called the “Forbidden City”. The south and north gate-towers, some sections of the wall and some parts of Du Wenxiu’s headquarters can still be seen today. The magnificent towers, elegant streets, small and exquisite courtyards, colourful flowers blooming in profusion give people a feeling of antiquity, serenity and elegance. Today, this famous ancient city is attracting more and more tourists.