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Zhaoqing is located 110 km northwest of Guangzhou, in the west Pearl River Delta. It lies on the north shores of the Xijiang River, which is flows from west to east, and opposite of Gaoyao. The city lies in a south subtropical monsoon climatic zone. The yearly average temperature is 21.9 °C, and annual precipitation is 1605 mm.

History and Name
The date of Zhaoqing's founding is uncertain, but it existed as early as the Qin (221-206 B.C.) and Han (206 B.C. - 220 C.E.) Dynasties, when it was known as Gaoyao. In the Sui Dynasty (581-618 C.E.), Zhaoqing became known as Duanzhou and served as an important administrative region and military base.

In C.E. 1118, Northern Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong bestowed its current name upon the city. "Zhaoqing" means "beginning of auspiciousness".

Early Jesuit mission
By the time of the Europeans arriving to Guangdong in the 16th century, Zhaoqing was an important administrative center, and the seat of Viceroy of Guangdong and Guangxi.[1]

Matteo Ricci account of the "Christian expeditions into China" tell about the early visits of Macau-based Europeans to Zhaoqing. The first visit may have been that by the Macau City Auditor Mattia Penella and the Italian Jesuit Michele Ruggieri, who went to Zhaoqing in 1582, sent there by the Macau's authorities in lieu of the Mayor and the Bishop of the city, whom the Viceroy (named Chen Rui) summoned to report to him at his residence. The Jesuits at the time were interested in expanding their missionary activity from Macau into Mainland China, so other visits by Jesuits soon followed, and by 1583, after several false starts, Michele Ruggieri and another, recently arrived Jesuit, named Matteo Ricci managed to establish residence in the city - the first Jesuit mission house in China outside Macau. Ruggieri and Ricci were able to move to the city after receiving an invitation from the governor of Zhaoqing at the time, Wang Pan, who had heard of Ricci's skill as a mathematician/cartographer.

It was in Zhaoqing that Ricci drew up the first ever map of the world in Chinese in 1584. In 1588, Ruggieri left China for Rome - not to ever return, as it turned out. But Ricci stayed in Zhaoqing until 1589, when a new viceroy decided to expel him from the city, and the Jesuit had to move to Shaozhou.

There is now a memorial plaque in Zhaoqing to commemorate Ricci's six-year stay there as well as a building set up as a "Ricci Memorial Centre" although the building itself does not date back to the time of the priest as it was built in the 1860s.

Tourist Highlights
Limestone peaks at Seven Star Crags
Dinghu Mountain
Song Township city walls, over 800 years old
Chongxi Pagoda
Tower for Reviewing the River
Baogong Memorial Temple

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