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WHAT TO SEE IN NANJING


  Nanjing's streets are lined with poplars and sycamore tree-some of which came from France--that provide some relief from the oppressive summer temperatures. Gardens and party add grace and a sense of spaciousness to the city. Two lakes, Xuan Wu Lake and Mochou Lake, are surrounded by parkland. Many of the historical relics----tombs, stelae and sculptures dating from the sixth century--are to be found in the hills and fields around Nanjing, the best known in the vicinity of Zjin Shan (Purple and Gold Mountain).

  Xuan Wu Hu was originally a private retreat for the royal family. The 472-hectare park consists of a lake-shore path and five islands--Ling Zhou, Huan Zhou, Ying Zhou, Liang Zhou and Cui Zhou. Ling Zhou has an aviary. Ying Zhou sits inside Huan Zhou, separated by a lotus-filled moat. Huan Zhou has a man-made waterfall and a Tibetan Buddhist Temple built in l937. The statues were installed in a 1993 restoration. Liang Zhou is the only island to feature some pre-republican artifacts--four Qing-dynasty pavilions. Cui Zhou has some new gardens.

  Mochou Hu is graced by several Ming-Qing pavilions. One is located on the island and can be reached by hire boat Local legend says that the Ming General, Xu Da, received the Park as a gift from the Emperor, when he beat him at chess. One pavilion is called Sheng Qi Ting (Winning at Chess Pavilion). Next to the Sheng Qi Pavilion is a walled garden containing a statue of the mythical heroine Mochou.

SlGHTS WITHlN THE CITY

MING DYNASTY ClTY WALL (MINGGU CHENG QIANG)
  Built by the first emperor, HongWu (Zhu Yuan Zhang), this wall of clay bricks took 20 years to construct (1366--86), and included remains of an earlier Eastern Han city wall Yangtze River(Stone Cop. It encloses an area of 41 square kilometres (16 square miles), making it the longest city wall in the world. Its highest point is 18 metres (60 feet), and it varies in width from seven to 12 metres (30 to 40 feet). Some 200,000 workers cemented the bricks--each stamped with details of the brick maker and overseer--with a mortar mixture of glutinous rice, tung oil and lime.
Some long sections of the Ming city wall had no entry or exit points. There were no gates at all along the shore of Xuan Wu Hu stretching from Tai Ping Men to He Ping Men. Zhong Hua Men was the only gate south of the city and there was one gate in the east between Tai Ping Men and Guang Hua Men. The Republican government added gates after the 1911 Revolution. By then there were 24 gates.

  Still, in 1927 when the Guomindang attacked, the city wall was so impregnabe that the resident foreign community became trapped inside the city. In order to escape they had to climb down the wall from Ding Shan using 'ropes' made from sheets. The wall was further extended in 1929 in order for the funeral procession of Sun Zhongshan to cross from west to east and in l930, the Guomindang drafted a Plan for the wall to become a ring road for traffic. From 1949 until the end of the Cultural Revolution, much of the city wall was destroyed. But original sections of the Ming wall are still so strong today that modern buildings have been constructed on top of them.In some places, people have made their home in chambers inside the walls.

  Since 1981, the Nanjing government has taken steps to restore and reconstruct the ancient monuments. In l994, a section of wall (1.7 km) was restored along the Xuan Wu Hu shore from Jiefang Men to Taiping Men. Restoration is currently underway around the base of Lion Peak, near Jing Hai Si.

  Many areas of the city are still known by the Ming City gates which once stood there. Tai Ping Men is the local name for the neighborhood but the gate is no longer standing. Recent accounts state that there are nine city gates still standing. Five gate are original Ming-dynasty gates and four gates date from the Republican era.

  The five surviving Ming-dynasty gates are :Wu Chao Men (Meridian gate)-located in the grounds of the old Ming Palace where Zhu Yuan Zhang, or Taizu, lived in the 14th century. All the original palace buildings were destroyed between 1853-1864 during the Taiping rebellion. Zhong Hua Men (formerly Treasure gate) is located in the middle of a traffic circle on Zhong Hua Lu, near the Qin Huai River.

  It served as a fortress housing 3000 soldiers inside its 27 caves. Han Zhong Men sits in a park at the intersection of Huju Nan Lu, Huju Lu and Hanzhong Lu. This gate is disconnected from the city wall. It forms a long tunnel through the base of a fortress. Qing Liang Men, built in 1368, sits beside Shitou Cheng Lu near Qing Liang Shan. He Ping Men is located on top of a small promontory hill overlooking the northwest corner of Xuan Wu Hu. It can only be viewed by appointment as it is within a military area. Tai Ping Men and Zhong Yang Men are no longer standing but are the names of local areas. Some tour guides may claim that Zhong Yang Men is still standing because they refer to He Ping Men by this name.

  The four surviving Republican era gates are: Xuan Wu Men-built in the final year of the Qing Dynasty just before the 1911 revolution. It provided access to five islands and the Xuan Wu Hu park. This area was a private retreat for the imperial family. Yi Jiang Men, alongside Zhongshan Bei Lu, was built in 1921. There is a pavilion on top of the gate with a photographic exhibition of the Communist Party victory in 1949. From this spot, below you can see the wooded winding bends of the former city moat and to your west is Lion Peak. The second small hill seen to your right is Ding Shan where a community of foreigners from the treaty ports lived during the Yangtze RiverGuomindang occupation of Nanjing in 1927. Zhong Shan Men was built in 1929 to facilitate the
movement of Sun Zhongshan's funeral procession towards Zijin Shan. It replaced the Ming-dynasty gate (Chao Yeng Men). This gate is the main access to Ming Ling Lu,the road to the Ming Tomb. If you climb to the top of this gate, the view (on a clear day) of Zjin Shan and tree-lined Zhongshan Dong Lu is excellent. Facing west, to your right, you can see the remains of the old city moat, Yue Ya Hu Chen He. The Nanjing Museum is next to the gate; Jie Fang Men, built in 952, allows access to Xuan Wu Hu Park. The city gates are focal points for entertainment on weekends and holidays. The locals gather there to watch videos, listen to music and sing. Zhong-shan Men is the main spot for this free fun.

  Santai Xiang is a narrow alley which branches off Zhongshan Dong Lu. If you sit here in the evening at one of the sidewalk cafes, local musicians (mostly ladies) who walk up and down the path will be happy to play their guitar and sing a Chances song for you for a small fee.

CITY WALL MUSEUM (CHENG QIANG BOWUGUAN)
  This museum is found on top of Jiefang Men and has photographs of long-gone city gates, maps of the walled city and a full-scale model of the walled city. Captions are onlv in Chinese.

THE DRUM TOWER (GU LOU) AND BELL PAVlLION (DAZHONG TING)
  The Drum Tower marks the centre of Nanjing. It was built in 1382, and was followed in 1388 by the Bell Pavilion, to the northeast. Both were used to sound out the two-hourly night watches over the city. The Drum Tower is a Qing-dynasty (1644--1911) reconstruction built over the 14th-century Ming foundations. A tea-room at the top offers a fine view of the city. The hexagonal Bell Pavilion, also originally erected in the Ming dynasty, houses a huge one-ton bronze bell and a memorial hall. The hall is dedicated to the two daughters of the artisan who was ordered by the emperor to cast the bell. Legend tel1s how, after the craftsman had made several unsuccessful attempts to produce a correct blend of metals for the bronze, the two girls threw themself into the smelter, whereupon the composition of the alloy was miraculously perfected. As a result of this filial sacrifice, he was literally saved by the bell certain execution, but the same story is told of two other bells in Beijing. The existing two--storey pavilion dates from 1889.

YANGTZE RIVER BRlDGE (CHANGJIANG DAQIAO)
  The waters of the Yangtze become tidal at Nanjing. Astride the swirling current stands the Yangtze RiverGreat Changiiang Bridge. The visitor is proudly shown this city landmark, which provides a vital link between the north of China and the fertile fields of Jiangnan. Before the bridge was completed in 1968, all traffic had to cross the river by ferry.

  Initially the bridge was to be constructed with the help of the Russians, who agreed to supply the design, technical expertise and steel. When deteriorating Sino-Soviet relations led to the Russians' withdrawal in 1960, the Chinese not only constructed the bridge themselves but revamped the domestic steel industry to produce the necessary tonnage. The project took them eight years.

  At either end of the bridge stand four towers. In one of these is housed the visitors' briefing room and a fine model of the Yangtze Bridge. The bridge, 1.6 kilometres (one mile) long, is two-tiered, with the top level for vehicles and the lower one for trains. A visit to the railway deck to look along the great grey tunnel of steel is awe-inspiring, especially if a train thunders past.

NANJING MUSEUM (NANJING BOWUGUAN)
  This museum was founded by Cai Yuan Pei in l933 and constructed in the style of a traditional Yangtze RiverChinese temple. It is located right next to the city gate, Zhongshan Men. The 400,000 cultural relics here date from around the 11th century BC up to the founding of the People's Republic. Exhibits include jade, pottery and stone imple-ments fromJiangsu's prehistoric period; artifacts from the Longshan and associated cultures from 4000 to 2500 BC; and a wide range of porcelain, paintings and bronzes, as well as maps and displays of traditional handicrafts. The famous jade burial suit, exhibited abroad in the 1970s, belongs to this museum. It is thought to be 1,800 years old and is made of 2,600 rectangles of jade sewn together with silver thread. The jade suit was made to totally encapsulate the body with the object of preserving it, but when archaeologists dug it up in Xuzhou in 1970 all they discovered inside were bones.

  One of the most fascinating exhibits is the large wooden copy of a statue of a man showing all the body's acupuncture points. The original bronze statue is believed to date from the Warring States period (480--22l BC). Another reminder of China's superiority in early medical pioneering is a portrait of Hua Tuo (141--203), who practiced acupuncture and surgery and reputedly employed anaesthetics 1,000 years before they were discovered in the West. It is located at 321 East Zhongshan Lu.

Special Link:Nanjing Museum

Nanjing and Its History

• What to see in Nanjing (1): Sights Within The City

What to see in Nanjing (2): Sights Within The City

What to see in Nanjing (3): Sights Outside The City Centre

What to see in Nanjing (4): Sights Outside The City Centre

What to see in Nanjing (5): Sights South & East of Nanjing