On the southern bank of the Guanhe River outside the southern gate of Yangzhou City, where the ancient Grand Canal joined the Sanwanzi River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, the pagoda used to serve as a navigation mark. In fact, it was the first tall building to come into sight when ships and boats sailing on the Yangtze River approached Yangzhou in olden times. It was a landmark of ancient Yangzhou.
Constructed in 1582 during the Ming Dynasty, the octagonal pagoda is a seven-storeyed structure of wood and brick, some fifty meters high. The lower part of the pagoda is a stone Sumeru pedestal of modest height, surrounded by a veranda with stone steps. The main body of the pagoda was built of wood and brick, the interior walls of bricks, the eaves, banisters, and balconies on the exterior of wood. The first to sixth storeys have four walls inside, but the seventh storey has eight walls like those on the exterior. Each storey has four doors. The eaves and balconies all project extensively from the body of the pagoda so people can walk around and enjoy the view.
Because the pagoda was located at a turning point on the Grand Canal, the place was called Pagoda Bend. In olden times lamps were lit at all levels of the pagoda to guide ships and boats on the Grand Canal. Even today traces of the lamp recesses can be found on the pagoda walls.