Situated in the open fields between the You and Tang Rivers, Youlicheng was China's first national prison. This historic facility is where Emperor Wenwang (AKA King Jichang) of the Zhou Dynasty wrote the iconic The Book of Changes (The I Ching) while unjustly imprisoned. Renowned for its vast cultural connotations, Youlicheng continues to thrive as a hub for the study of The Book of Changes and its practical applications.
According to historical record, the cruel and incompetent Emperor Zhou resented the rise of King Jichang. Zhou's jealousy and fear compelled him to imprison Jichang for seven years, where Jichang wrote The Book of Changes, a tome which went on to become a mainstay of philosophy, religion and divination. In later generations, monuments and temples were built to memorize Jichang on the ruins of Youlicheng.
One such monument is the Wenwang Temple. This Temple was rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty in 1542 AD. Stepping upward onto the grounds, visitors are greeted by the monastery gate behind which ancient cypresses cover the temple courtyard. In this courtyard sits the platform of Yanyitai, where Jichang was imprisoned. The stone and brick platform is composed of 2 floors, each with 3 rooms. A green-blue stone memorial arch at the south end of the platform is inscribed with characters for "Yanyifang." Meahwhile, the two steles at the front gate announce: "Youlicheng of Wenwang."
Several steles are found at Youlicheng, expressing the poems, proseand essays of emperors, ministers and scholars honoring Wenwang. The most famous among them is the stele titled "Yijing by Wenwang." The words inscribed here include important materials used for the study of The Book of Changes.