City Guide

Historical Cities

AddTime:[2009/11/30 11:17:08]

Kaifeng is a prefecture-level city in eastern Henan province, People's Republic of China. Located along the southern bank of the Yellow River, it borders the provincial capital of Zhengzhou to the west, Xinxiang to the northwest, Shangqiu to the east, Zhoukou to the southeast, Xuchang to the southwest, and the province of Shandong to the northeast. Kaifeng is known as one of the six major centers of ancient Chinese civilization; the capital of the Kingdom of Wei (475-331 B.C.), Later Liang, Later Han and Later Zhou dynasties of the Five dynasties (907-960), Northern Song dynasty (960-1137), and the Jin dynasty (1115-1334), also known as 'the Capitals of Seven Dynasties'.

Culture

Kaifeng offers a wide range of food specialities such as steaming pie and Chinese dumpling. In the evening, Kaifeng's streets turn into restaurants while hundreds open their stands and begin selling their food in the famous night market. Often people from the nearby Zhengzhou come to Kaifeng to spend an evening with their family as the atmosphere is very appealing. Less adventurous Western tourists may prefer to eat inside the restaurants and just have their drinks outside because they might not want to try chicken feet, pork feet or bucks. Particularly famous is Kaifeng's five-spice bread (wǔxiāng shāobǐng), which, like pita, can be opened and filled.

Colleges and universities

 

Henan University (founded 1912)

Kaifeng University (founded 1980)

Hangzhou


Hangzhou is the beautiful capital of Zhejiang province and its political, economic and cultural center. Founded over 2000 years ago, Hangzhou was the capital of the Southern Song dynasty from 1127-1276, and is estimated to have been the world’s largest city at the time. Scholars, philosophers, politicians and artists flocked to this cosmopolitan center, endowing Hangzhou with a rich cultural heritage. To this day, Hangzhou remains one of China’s most celebrated historical cities and tourist destinations.

The city, the southern terminus of the Grand Canal, is located on the lower reaches of the Qiantang River in southeast China, a superior position in the Yangtze Delta and only 180 kilometers from Shanghai. Hangzhou’s climate is comfortable year-round. The average annual temperature is 17 °C (62 °F), with monthly averages ranging from 4 °C (40 °F) in January to 28 °C (83 °F) in July.

Living in Hangzhou

Hangzhou is an extremely comfortable and pleasant place for foreigners to live. As the local economy relies heavily on tourism, the city is easy to get around, home comforts are widely available and there’s always something to do and see.

Transport

Hangzhou is well served by an extensive public bus and trolleybus network and an excellent citywide bike rental system. A brand new subway system is due to open at the end of the year. Hangzhou is also ideally located to make excursions to other parts of China. Shanghai is less than an hour away by high-speed train and the surrounding area is home to some of China’s most beautiful scenery.

Shopping

Hangzhou is a shopper’s paradise having everything from high-end brand name stores to lively markets selling at bargain prices. Qing He Fang Street is a good place to pick up souvenirs such as silk, fans or tea. It is one of the most famous and historic streets in the city and reflects many of the features of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). A number of international supermarket chains including Carrefour, Wal-Mart, Metro, Auchan and Tesco stock imported products.

Food

As with any major city in China, restaurants serving all kinds of food, both Chinese and international, are plentiful in Hangzhou. However, because Hangzhou is a popular tourist destination, it is a particularly good place to sample regional cuisines from across China and the quality of international restaurants is higher than in cities of comparable size. The local cuisine is noted for its elaborate preparation, sophisticated cooking and refreshing flavors. Local specialties include Beggar's Chicken (a chicken baked in clay), West Lake Fish in Sweet and Sour Sauce (vinegar coated fish fresh caught from the lake), Dongpo Pork (braised pork) and Fried Shrimps with Longjing Tea.

Recreation

Hangzhou is known as one of China’s most beautiful and culturally rich cities. The most celebrated attraction is undoubtedly the West Lake, which has inspired China’s finest poets for centuries. Surrounded by mountains, the serene 6km2 lake is noted for its scenic beauty which blends naturally with famous historical and cultural sites like temples and pagodas.

A number of national museums can be found in Hangzhou which are representative of Chinese culture. Fine examples are the National Silk Museum and Tea Museum. Along with the other museums in Hangzhou, they provide a fascinating insight into the history of Chinese traditional products.

At night Hangzhou has much to offer, from traditional teahouses to hip bars. Choosing one overlooking the West Lake for a pleasant chat over a cup of tea is sure to make you feel relaxed and refreshed.

 

Suzhou


Suzhou is located in the center of the Yangtze Delta, in the south of Jiangsu Province, with Shanghai to the east, Zhejiang Province to the south, Wuxi City to the west and the Yangtze River to the north. Since 42% area of the city is covered by water, including a vast number of ponds and streams, Suzhou is praised as the 'Oriental Venice'. Taihu Lake, four fifths of which is in the territory of Suzhou, is one of the four largest fresh lakes in China, with East Hill, West Hill and other scenic spots in its vicinity. The city is cut by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal from north to south. Together with its mild climate, making it an available destination all year round, fertile landscape and abundance of produce, it is no wonder that Suzhou is called 'paradise on earth'.

Built in 514 BC, Suzhou is an ancient city with a 2500 years' history. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained in present-day Suzhou. The double-chessboard layout of Suzhou, with 'the streets and rivers go side by side while the water and land routes run in parallel', are preserved basically intact. Strolling the streets, you can feel the unique lingering charm of this landscape left by its long history.

Suzhou CityAs the saying goes - 'Gardens to the south of Yangtze River are the best in the world, and Suzhou gardens are the best among them'. These gardens attain their high reputation not only for their vast numbers, but also for their charming natural beauty and harmonious construction. At present more than 60 gardens are kept intact in Suzhou, and a series of them have been listed in the World Heritage List, including the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Garden of Master of Nets and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty.

Rating alongside these classical gardens are the exquisite water townships in Suzhou. Zhouzhuang, Mudu, Tongli Town and so on should not be missed by any visitor. In any water township of Suzhou, a number of Ming and Qing dynasty preserved buildings can be found. The natural sights and human landscape enhance each other's beauty, which is a great attraction to visitors who linger there.

ZhouzhuangBeing the cradle of Wu Culture, Suzhou plays a vital role in Chinese cultural history. Many great names and schools of art arose here. For example, the Wumen Fine Arts School is the finest in the history of Suzhou, represented by Shen Zhou, Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin and Qiu Ying, whose poems, calligraphy and paintings are considered to be historical artifacts. Pingtan, Kun Opera and Suzhou Opera are praised as 'three flowers' in the cultural history of Suzhou. Furthermore, embroidery, fans and brocade produced in Suzhou are noted world wide. If you want to explore more on their history visit the museum of Suzhou folk-costume for a complete description.

As one of the famous tourist cities in China, Suzhou has made a great improvement to its basic facilities and tourist functions. Suzhou is accessible by plane, train and bus. Star-rated hotels with good services and reasonable guesthouses and hostels provide a range of lodging. Of course, tasting local delicacies should not be forgotten in your journey. Authentic Suzhou cuisines and snacks can be found in Guan Qian Street, where delicious food and friendly service are memorable. When night falls, Suzhou City is quiet and peaceful. You can enjoy it while sipping a cup of tea in any teahouse.

 

Xi'an


Xi'an, meaning 'Western peace', is the capital of Shaanxi Province. Known as Chang'an in ancient times, it is a city rich in history and served as the national capital during some of China's most important dynasties. Since the 1990s, as part of the economic revival of China's interior, the city of Xi'an has re-emerged as a major cultural, industrial and educational center of the central-northwest region, with facilities for research and development, national security and China's space exploration program.

Geography and climate

Surrounded by mountains and rivers, Xi'an lies on the Guanzhong Plain in central China. At the beginning of Han Dynasty, Prime Minister Zhang Liang advised the emperor Liu Bang to choose Guanzhong as the capital of the Han Dynasty because, 'Thousands of miles of land rich in harvest can be found here, as if this place belongs to the nation of heaven.'

Xi'an enjoys a temperate climate with hot summers and cold, dry winters. Monthly average temperatures range from freezing in January to 27°C (80°F)  in July.

Tourism

Because of the city’s historical importance and the plethora of ancient monuments and tombs in the vicinity, tourism is a major component of the local economy, and the Xi’an region is one of China's most popular tourist destinations.

The city has many important historical sites, the most famous of which is the Terracotta Warriors at the Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, China's first emperor. There are several burial mounds, tombs of the Zhou Dynasty kings located in the city. Xi'an also contains some 800 royal mausoleums and tombs from the Han Dynasty, with some of them yielding hundreds of sculpted clay soldiers, and remains of sacrificial temples from the Han era. The city has numerous Tang Dynasty pagodas and is noted for its history museum and its stele forest, which is housed in an 11th-century Confucian temple containing large stone tablets from various dynasties.

 

 

Nanjing


Lying on the south bank of the Yangtze River, Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, is one of the most delightful of Chinese cities, with a rich cultural heritage. Nanjing, meaning 'Southern Capital', served as the capital of China during several historical periods and due to its strategic location, has always been one of China's most important cities. Apart from having been the capital of China for six dynasties and of the Republic of China, Nanjing has also served as a national hub of education, research, transportation and tourism throughout history. With an urban population of over five million, it is also the second largest commercial center in eastern China, after Shanghai.

History

Yuecheng, the first recorded military defense constructed in early 472 B.C., opened the long history of Nanjing. In the following years, the city reached its height of splendor at various times. In 229, Sun Quan, one of the three heroes in China's Three Kingdoms Period (220 - 280), moved the capital of his kingdom to Jianye - present-day Nanjing. From that time on, the city served as the capital for several dynasties in China's history. In 1356, in a peasant rebellion, Zhu Yuanzhang, later the Emperor Taizu of the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), conquered the city and renamed it Yingtian Fu. In 1368, Zhu established the Ming Dynasty - the last feudal dynasty ruled by the native Han people - and gave Yingtian Fu the new name of Nanjing. Ten years later, the emperor made Nanjing the capital of the country.

In spite of its glorious times, Nanjing has also witnessed the hardest moments of this nation. In 1839, the Opium War burst out after Lin Zexu, an assiduous official, burnt twenty thousand boxes of opium in Humen. On a battleship in Nanjing's Xiaguan, the corrupt Qing government, under threat by Britain troops, signed the notorious Nanjing Treaty, the first of the 'Unequal Treaties' which ceded Hong Kong away from China for more than a hundred years. Following this treaty, invasions and colonial rule of intensified and China sank into a harder and darker time.

In 1853, peasant groups of Taiping rebelled against the Qing government and established the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in Jinling, Nanjing's name at that time, and formed an army. However, the peasant regime was short-lived and in 1864, troops of Qing government won the city back. Nowadays, in Xuyuan Garden , one can still see part of the palace of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.

It was the Revolution of 1911, the Chinese democratic revolution led by Dr.Sun Yat-Sen, that eventually overthrew the Qing Dynasty. On the first day of 1912, Dr. Sun Yet-sen gave his simple but sublime address on the inauguration held of the new Republic of China. Today, a memorial hall in the Mausoleum of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen, houses a statue of Dr. Sun sculpted out of white marble.

There are two further negative memories of the city. On April 18th, 1927, Chiang Kaishek launched the counter-revolutionary 4.12 Coup and established his power in Nanjing. Ten years later, Japanese troops occupied the city and committed countless atrocities on the residents. During the six weeks of the Nanjing Massacre, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people were killed, including women and children.

After eight years of resistance, in 1945, the brave Chinese people eventually drove the barbarous Japanese invaders out of China's homeland and the war criminals got what they deserved. However Chinese people will never forget the history. Pictures of the atrocities of Japanese soldiers taken by Japanese army photographers are exhibited in the Memorial Hall to the Victims of the Nanjing Massacre.

Finally, on April 23rd, 1949, Nanjing was liberated by the People's Liberation Army and the Kuomintang's power in China was ended.

Cultural City

Being a city rich in cultural heritage, Nanjing attracts thousands of tourists to its many historical sights, memorials, museums and cultural sights. The famous Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao) is not only a memorial place for the Great Sage in China but has a surrounding area bustling with shops, restaurants and a snack street housed in traditional Chinese architectural buildings. In the city center, Nanjing Museum is a must for travelers with a collection of more than 420 thousand pieces, including about 2,000 that are rare and valued. The observatory on Zijinshan Mountain to the east of the city center was the first modern observatory built in China.

The Qin Huai River, in the southwest of the city, extends one hundred kilometers. The river used to be the most flourishing part of Nanjing. In many Chinese novels, it is renowned as a place which nurtured beauties and romance. Today, it is a place for people to recall the old splendor of this historical city and is also home to a thriving night life. Like all sights in Nanjing, it tells the story of past, present and future of the city.

Modern Metropolis

Like most major cities in China, Nanjing is developing rapidly. Great changes have taken place in the city. Modern highways and railways connect the city with most major cities throughout the country and it is becoming a sparkling metropolis akin to Shanghai and Beijing with skyscrapers, luxury hotels, fashion shopping malls, supermarkets and highly-developed economic zones throughout the city. Transport in the city is very convenient with the new metro service in addition to taxis, public buses, tourist special lines and other means of transport. Dazzling shopping malls and department stores can be found in the commercial areas of the city with stocked plenty of international brand names. Nanjing is also home to several colleges and universities - including some of China's most prestigious - and a large foreign population.

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