There are ruins of Christian buildings.
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In 214 BC, Chaozhou was an undeveloped and unnamed part of Nanhai Commandry (南海郡) of the Qin Empire. In 331 (during the Eastern Jin Dynasty), Haiyang District (海陽縣) was established as a part of Dongguan Commandry (東官郡).
Dongguan Commandry was renamed to Yi'an Commandry (義安郡) in 413. The commandry became a prefecture in 590; first as Xun Prefecture (循州, Xunzhou), then as Chao Prefecture (潮州, Chaozhou) in the following year. In 1914, the Republic of China government combined Chao and Xun prefectures into Chaoxun Prefecture or Chaoxun Circuit (潮循道).
For a short while in Sui Dynasty and early Tang Dynasty, Haiyang District was Yian District (義安縣). The district's name had been Haiyang until 1914, when it was renamed to Chao'an County (潮安縣) to avoid ambiguity with the Haiyang County of Shandong Province.
The seat of the 1951 Guangdong People's government was at Chao'an County, a part of it was created as Chao'an City in 1953 and later that year renamed to Chaozhou City (county-level). In 1955, the provincial seat is moved to Shantou. Chaozhou City was abolished five years later, and remade again in 1979. In 1983, the situation was reversed, with Chao'an abolished and made a part of Chaozhou City. Chaozhou was made a provincially administered city in January 1989, and a vice-prefecture-level city in January 1990.
Together, Chaozhou and Shantou are called "Chao-Shan" (潮汕), and Chaoshan has been the name of the joint political administrative area from 1958 until 1983, when Shantou City is a higher-level city that contained Chaozhou.
In December 1991, Chaozhou expanded to included:
Ch'ao-chou Township (潮州鎮), or Chaochou, of Pingtung County, Taiwan is named after Chaozhou. The township is 42.4331 km².
See also: Chiuchow cuisine