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It’s the one of very few maritime-themed museums in China.

A large number of temples dedicated to various deities dot throughout Quanzhou.

They testify to the pious folk beliefs of Fujian's seafarers and their hopes for peace, health and fortune.

It’s off the radar even for Chinese travelers -- most head to Fujian’s tourism magnet Xiamen, 90 kilometers to the southwest.

But with an amiable age-old charms and a tangible Maritime Silk Road legacy, this is the place to see coastal China at its most local. This Soviet-style structure showcases Quanzhou’s fascinating maritime past under one roof.

Chinese visitors often find the tombstones in the new wing too spooky, but this magnificent collection of historical gravestones and steles, most dating from the Yuan dynasty, is a reflection of the Quanzhou’s maritime heyday.

They were carved to commemorate the death of foreign merchants, of various cultures and religions, living in Quanzhou during Song and Yuan Dynasty, and are a true celebration of the city’s multi-culturalism.Although the structure is now defunct, the mosque’s former glory lingers in the towering arched gate and the seemingly impregnable walls. Not far from the Maritime Museum, the serene and overgrown Islamic cemetery is the final resting place of some mighty Muslims, including two of Mohammed's disciples.The intact Ming Dynasty steles crafted in both Chinese and Arabic managed to survive the Cultural Revolution.The dancing Siva and the dignified Vishnu, on the other hand, were crafted by Indian masons in Quanzhou in the 13th century.Muslim merchants have been coming to Quanzhou via the Maritime Silk Road route since the Tang dynasty (618-907).They can also be found in Guangdong and Hong Kong, but those in Quanzhou have clearly weathered the years and confronted the threat of the bulldozers.

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