Nanjing (meaning southern capital) is one of the six ancient capitals of China, situated at the south bank of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Today, Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu province and covers an area of 860 square kilometers with a population of more than 5 million. Nanjing is a good place to see a bit of Chinese history and culture away from the tourist route; the city is littered with cultural relics, museums and nice scenery and is small enough to get around in a short period of time. For those living or staying in Shanghai, Nanjing makes a nice alternative destination for a weekend vacation.
Main attractions in Nanjing
Xuanwu Lake lies outside the northeast city wall and is an enormous urban lake, dotted with causeways and islands. If you arrive in Nanjing at the railway station, the lake is directly in front of you. The lake was originally an imperial resort and then used to train naval soldiers during the Jin Dynasty. Today, the Lake and the islands are a favorite weekend retreat for Chinese families. The island is accessible either by the causeways or by small boats. There are numerous tea houses and restaurants dotted about the lake. There is also a rather depressing zoo here which it is best to avoid.
The Confucius Temple (Fuzimiao) was originally built during the Song Dynasty and is situated on the north bank of the Qinhuai River. Today, the entire area around the Temple consists of a series of tourist shops, snack bars, restaurants and entertainment arcades all done up in "Ming" and "Qing" style architecture. There is a vaguely kitsch feeling about the area and the Temple itself is a bit of a disappointment but the area is great fun and a very pleasant part of the city to walk around (the only pedestrianized area in the city). Absorb the relaxed atmosphere, have something to eat and take part in the fun! It is particularly interesting in the evenings when a lively street market sets up in the district, and locals and tourists take part in the bargain hunting! The Song Dynasty was a period of great Confucian revivalism and the temple here is considered to be one of the best preserved of its type in China. During the Ming Dynasty the temple was expanded and became a school for children of the imperial court. The buildings on both sides of the Temple which are now small tourist shops were once individual study rooms for Confucian scholars. The Qinhuai River flows in front of the Temple and there is also a 110-meter-long screen stonewall (the largest in the nation) nearby, which can be viewed from the bridge crossing the river in front of the Temple. A beautiful ¡°Lantern Show¡± is held at the Temple during the 1st to the 18th days of the Lunar Year.
The Ming Tombs (Ming Xiaoling) are situated on the southern slope of Purple Mountain. Work on the tombs began even before the Emperor, Hong Wu (founder of the Ming dynasty) died in 1398.
The tombs here are some of the largest Ming Tombs in China and the only Ming Tombs located outside Beijing. Hundreds of small stone statues still guard the Emperor's tomb today, although much of the original site has been destroyed. The approach to the tomb is along Shixiang Lu, a pretty path littered with stone statues of real and mythical animals.
The Dr Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum
Zhongshan ling was built in 1926 in honor of Dr. Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), who is recognized as the Father of Modern China. He led the rebellion against the corrupt Qing government resulting in the 1911 revolution which put and end the feudal system. In turn, the Republic of China was founded. The mausoleum is situated at the foot of the south face of Purple Mountain (Zijin Shan, 紫金山), and it has become a must-see tourist destination for all visitors to Nanjing.
The Qinhuai River flows for 5km (3 miles) through the southern part of Nanjing. From the 14th to the early 20th century, shops, restaurants and brothels flourished along its banks. The beautiful lantern boats that glided on the Qinhuai River were next to none in color and artistry. Recent renovations have restored the Qinhuai River and its famous sites to their former beauty. Floating lights are the most famous view on the Qinhuai River. On the river, any boat or ship, large or small, will hang color lamps. It is a very important activity for a visitor to ride such a boat, floating on the river to enjoy the scenes. The prestigious Chinese writer Zhu Ziqing (1898-1948) wrote a verse on the floating lights, which gave a very good description of the wonderful view.
Climate in Nanjing
Nanjing is located in the subtropical climatic zone. The average temperature during the year is 15.3°C and the annual average rainfall is 1106.5mm . The middle of June is the so-called "Mei Yu" or "wet" period so make sure you always have an umbrella with you if you travel at this time! As with many other cities in the east of China, spring and autumn are the most pleasant seasons to visit, when there is blossom or greenery on the trees and the temperature allows visitors to wander the streets and surrounding hills without dripping in sweat!