With over 2,500 years of written history, Nanjing like the Chinese empire itself, has fallen and risen many times. A city nestled in the heart of China’s Jiangsu Province, Nanjing is steeped in history and in the midst of yet another transformation – into a thriving, modern city and a hub for education, tourism, research, the arts and transportation.
Known as one of the “Four Great Ancient Capitals of China”, Nanjing is home to over 8 million people. China’s “Southern Capital” is also the Provincial capital of Jiangsu, located in China’s fertile Yangtze River basin. Bordered by Zhejiang and Shanghai Provinces in the South, Nanjing within a stone’s throw of some of China’s most sought after tourist destinations.
Nanjing’s cultural importance in Chinese history is almost without parallel. The earliest record of the city dates back nearly 500 years B.C. – over the years it’s served as the capital of the Southern Tang Dynasty, the Ming Dynasty and the Qing Dynasty.
Nanjing experienced dark times, first as the place where the Opium War culminated into the first of several “Unequal Treaties”, later as the birthplace of the Taiping Rebellion, and finally with the awful pillaging by Japan during World War II. Later, Dr. Sun Yat-sen helped restore the city to its earlier prominence by naming it the capital once again after the Xinhai Revolution.The city was razed and restored several times, hence the construction of the city wall (中国门 or “China Gate”) which stands as the longest of its type in the world.
In spite of its turbulent past, Nanjing has developed into a young and energetic city. The city’s many parks and lakes offer a haven from the bustle of the city life. In fact, you can find rolling hills and lush subtropical forests just thirty minutes outside the city. Nanjing’s green spaces are famous throughout the region and give you a taste of a more traditional, rural China.
Nanjing is brimming with arts and culture – some of China’s leading art performance groups are based in the city including several dance companies and famous Chinese opera institutes. The Nanjing Library is the third largest in the country and keeps over 7 million printed volumes. In addition to Nanjing’s many museums, temples, pagodas, open spaces and parks, Nanjing also has a great restaurant scene and a jumping nightlife. Both short and long-term visitors to the city will never run out of things to do and places to see.
Nanjing has long been a transport hub in China, a role which it still fulfills to this day. Referred to “the door of the east and west, throat of the south and north” – with its proximity to the Yangtze River and to China’s financial epicenter, Shanghai – Nanjing has always been crucial a gateway. There are 17 railway stations in Nanjing, including a high-speed rail line, plus an intricate highway system which connects the city to Beijing to the north, Chongqing to the west and Shanghai to the south. There is an international airport with direct flights to Korea, Japan, Germany, Thailand and Singapore, among others.
While most people instinctively flock to Shanghai, Suzhou and Hangzhou – Nanjing has quietly become one of the most interesting, lively and livable cities in China. A growing metropolis surrounded by beautiful natural scenery, Nanjing is an attractive destination for wanderers looking to experience a great mix of culture and modern comforts.
- Surprising Nanjing: Mini-guide to China’s ancient capital (vietlegendtravelcom.wordpress.com)
- Out & About in Nanjing – Nanjing, China (travelpod.com)