People’s impression of Shanghai mostly comes from films, in the neon of metropolis, uninhibited Shanghai evening show, the stylish women who dress in cheongsam walk gracefully out from a nearby alleyway. Shanghai was once chopped up into the concessions of western powers, different cultures coexisted peacefully, to this day, Shanghai old colonial architecture still record that part of history and remain a relic of the old world, Yuyuan Garden is the oldest and the best-known Chinese style place in Shanghai.
Yuyuan Garden was built in the Ming Dynasty, it turned out to be the Pan family private garden. Qianlong reign, the Pan family began to wane, Yuyuan Garden gradually was dilapidated. Nowadays, there are lots of goods in Yuyuan Tourist Mart, here brings together all specialty products in Shanghai, especially snacks.
The City God Temple is a bustling place, where various lively activities such as performances and Lantern Festival take place, naturally, City God Temple, located in Yuyuan Tourist Mart, is a symbol of old Shanghai.
The City God Temple was also built in the Ming Dynasty, it was Yimiao in Shanghai County at that time, the swarming crowds and endless stream of pilgrims. Before the opening of Shanghai to the world, the City God Temple was the only place where the citizens of Shanghai had all kinds of entertainments.
The three-story imitations of Ming-and-Qing-dynasty-style buildings, grey tiles and vermilion handrails, antique —— the famous Green Wave Hall Restaurant is a classic old store in Shanghai, it has played host to many foreign leaders such as Queen Elizabeth of the UK, US President Bush and so on. The Green Wave Hall Restaurant used to be the pavilion in inner garden, the owner Pan family is in decline, the pavilion transfered out one after another, although after several owners, it became a teahouse until the republic of China.
After the opening of Shanghai to the world, the public parks, bars, dance halls and other places in the concessions of western powers became the new places for entertainment. Various shops gradually opened in the City God Temple and Yuyuan Garden area, where evolved into a very popular marketplace. Until now, Yuyuan Garden is still favored by many old Shanghainese and tourists from all over the world, there are many well-known snacks here, such as spiced beans, Pear-syrup candy and so on, small steamed bun has become the most familiar Shanghai labels.
Shanghai Lao City God Temple Snack Square brings together nearly all famous Shanghai snacks —— steamed crab dumplings, Pork-and-Crab Soup Dumplings, Doufu Hua(Bean Curd Jelly), Shanghai Wonton Soup, Shumai(Shao Mai)with Sticky Rice…… here is undoubtedly a paradise for foodies.
The shops are closely connected, every plaque and brick show an ancient smell, the Yuyuan Garden logo Zigzag Bridge, the green waves reflect the red walls, obviously the feeling of old Shanghai.
Yuyuan Garden has always been a busy place in Shanghai, occasionally, there is a peace and quiet nobody’s corner, Yuyuan Garden looks like the Jiangnan landscaped garden.
A hundred years have passed by, Yuyuan Garden has never left the life of Shanghainese, it seems to be quiet outside of time, never changes.
Most tourists to Shanghai will go to Yu Garden to have a look, but in fact, many people do not notice Shanghai Old Street not far from Yu Garden, it used to be the small east gate of Shanghai.
The small east gate in the late Qing Dynasty was the bustling place in Shanghai. At that time, people in Shanghai came to the small east gate to stroll around during every Chinese festival, at the east gate, thousands of black-awning boats were dorked along the river, the boatmen waited for their master to come back with many shopping bags, then he rowed the master home.
Once on this old street gathered the former jewelry store, business house, money shop, wine shop, theatre; walking on this street now, sometimes it is almost as if I can perceive the appearance of Waitan in the past.
Shanghai is a place of great change, once this street faced demolition, later, it is transformed into the Late Qing Period street, the money shops and business houses on the old street have been able to retain complete its original appearance. The teahouses are most easily seen on this street nowadays, many people come here specially to drink tea and chat.
Shanghai Old Street is divided into the eastern segment and the western segment, it is bounded by Guanyi Street, the eastern segment is dominated by the Late Qing Period buildings, the western segment is dominated by the ancient buildings of Ming and Qing dynasties, I see a lot of hundred-years-old stores here. In fact, in Shanghai old street, there are many small alleys, a lot of residents live and work in peace and contentment, they speak regional dialects.
For Shanghai, it is not only Shanghai Old Street that can show the old days, perhaps this old street is just a microcosm of the old Shanghai, I wander in the street looking into the night embraced by the mellow voice of Zhou Xuan coming from the teahouse, time will be slow on the way of reminiscence, the old neighborhoods and small alleys possess the exclusive memories of Shanghai.
We walk on Wukang Road in Shanghai, the French plane trees on both sides of the road blot out the sky and cover the sun, old western style villas are numerous.
Wukang Road was originally called Route Ferguson, built in 1907, it can be said that it is a historic road in Shanghai. This is known as a “Celebrity Road” that concentrated one hundred year modern history of Shanghai.
There is no rigid planning on the whole road, each house has its own unique appearance, Spanish style, French Renaissance style, German Baroque style…
There are many restaurants and coffee shops that have been converted from old houses at the roadside, when people are tired with walking, they can sit inside, drink a cup of coffee, and calm down their mood, watching the pedestrians coming and going outside the window, that kind of comfort gives people the sense of being forgotten by time.
The whole road is full of vitality because of the green decoration, the sun continuously through the gap between the leaves of the parasol tree, on the ground is shown on a piece of mottled, which coincides with the roadside old houses, Wukang Road is showing the most beautiful golden years.
Most of houses along the street were built during the colonial period, European-style columns and small terraces can be seen everywhere, the blue bricks and green leaves reflect each other, the white, beige, and gray facades is filled with quietness and elegance, which creat a life attitude of the Shanghai noble persons.
The sunlit small courtyard, the aroma of coffee surrounds us, it is good to sit here in a trance.
A hurrying pedestrian, her colourful clothes fit in with this old building, I feel that Wukang Road is most suitable for walking alone, I look about as I walk along, I occasionally stop for a while, I silently look at the footsteps of hurrying pedestrian, and experience my peace of mind.
The most famous on Wukang Road is Wukang Mansion. Wukang Mansion is like a large ship in the sunset, it is in the shape of a fan along the street corner, the whole building is built of crimson bricks, every household has large lattice windows, the arched doors on the ground floor of the apartment resemble the Colosseum, these elements make people their heart leap up.
Wukang Mansion, formerly known as the Normandie Apartments. It was designed by the Hungarian-Slovak architect László Hudec and completed in 1924, now it has become a street photography holy place for the artistic youth. People flock from all over the world to visit Wukang Mansion. This building is certainly worth visiting, no matter which angle you shot, 360 degrees, with no dead angle, no matter how you shoot it, all good-looking.
Almost every building is hung with a “historical building” nameplate, although people may not all understand the origin of these history, just experiencing the accumulation of years is enough to make people amaze the world change.
Although it is a historical buildings, it is not blindly vacant for viewing. Most of the buildings put aside their condescending manner and assimilate into the Shanghai people’s life, they are within reach, many foreign-style houses and apartments reveal a deep sense of human feelings and fireworks flavour.
A different form of housing are the sections of unique expression, on sunny day, we take a turn on Wukang Road, let the sun shines into the history, let the sun shines into the life.
The Summer Palace in Beijing is the largest surviving imperial garden in China and is also a standard northern imperial garden. It has a beautiful scenery, moutain and water surrounded. The Summer Palace was loved by the Empress Dowager Cixi, she lived here for several years.
Walking in the Summer Palace, people can always vaguely see the sign of Jiangnan. Green water and stone bridge, the small buildings with two floors have beam with carving and painting which has both north and south style of folk houses. How refined the quality of art is.
The Summer Palace is based on Kunming Lake and Longevity Mountain. Longevity Mountain is like a pillar that props up the sky. Palaces and pavilions are scattered randomly from foot to the top of the mountain. The centrally-located Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion, World of Abundant Fragrance and the Hall of the Sea of Wisdom are surrounded by other palaces and pavilions. The building is awe-inspiring in size and design and displays a gesture of the royal family arrogance and the sovereign descending the world.
Buddhist Fragrance Pavilion is the highest point in the entire garden, standing on it and overlooking the Summer Palace, let a person can’t help but praise the large-scale Royal Garden. Yellow glazed tiles scatter a powerful aura, this is the exclusive color of the emperor, in addition to Beijing, you can’t see it elsewhere.
The Marble Boat also known as the Boat of Purity and Ease, is a lakeside pavilion on the grounds of the Summer Palace. The original pavilion was made from a base of large stone blocks which supported a wooden superstructure done in a traditional Chinese design. During the Second Opium War, the pavilion was burnt, it was restored in 1893 on order of Empress Dowager Cixi. In this restoration, a new two-story superstructure was designed which incorporated elements of European architecture. Like its predecessor, the new superstructure is made out of wood but it was painted to imitate marble.
The Long Corridor is the longest garden corridor in China, the total length of the Long Corridor is 728 metres, with crossbeams under the roof dividing it into 273 sections. Along its course, there are four octagonal pavilions with double eaves, two on each side of the Cloud-Dispelling Gate. The pavilions symbolize the four seasons (spring, summer, autumn, winter) and are named (from east to west): Liu Jia, Ji Lan, Qiu Shu, and Qing Yao. When people walk down the long corridor, they can appreciate beautiful lakes and mountains on both sides of the corridor.
It is said that when the Summer Palace was under repair Empress Dowager Cixi embezzled expenditure on navy, which led to the Northern Navy was defeated, then the 61-year-old woman appealed to Japan for peace and signed an unprecedented humiliating Shimonoseki Treaty.
In recent years, the Seventeen Arches Bridge in the Summer Palace has become a popular tourist spots, especially around the time of the winter solstice, the sunset is in the south-west direction, the warm light of the setting sun illuminates all the bridge holes of the Seventeen Arches Bridge one by one, thus forming a natural series of “golden arches” spectacle, people call it “Golden Light Piercing”. Even if it is not at sunset, the long bridge connecting the east bank of Kunming Lake and Nanhu Island is picturesque, even poetical.
Those who have seen private gardens in southern yangtze can see the difference between private gardens and royal gardens at a glance. The royal gardens need no further hiding, the royal gardens need no restraining and connotation, the royal gardens need no curving trail profounded the woods, not to mention seeing a bigger picture from small matters, the royal gardens are as big as they want.
Our eyes are full of greenery, although there is no poetry such as “the emerald lotus leaves reach as far as where water and sky meet, and lotus blossoms bathing in the sunshine exhibit a distinctive dazzling pink”, but green leaves, gleaming ripples, tourist boats, painted pleasure boat, which constitutes a beautiful painting.
Kunming Lake is located in the western suburb of Beijing Summer Palace, about three-quarters of the Summer Palace. Before Emperor Qianlong, the west of Nanhu Island was a lake and the east was land. In order to create the lake, Xian Island-Nanhu Island was left, and the east coast of the rest of the lake was moved eastward. The whole Kunming Lake was doubled and connected to Nanhu Island again with the 17-hole bridge.
Summer Palace is the boundless romantic royal garden, Summer Palace is the glory and shame of the Qing dynasty, Emperor Qianlong’s last big task made Summer Palace unmatched in the world 259 years ago.
Were it not for growing up as a native at the foot of the imperial city, if you haven’t walked through the alleys with the bustle of hawkers, if you haven’t heard morning bell and evening drum of Drum Tower and Bell Tower, you would never know before Peking became Beijing how ravishing Peking looked.
The Drum Tower was built in Yuan Dynasty, it is a full wooden structure and is nearly 50 meters high, there are three arched doors on the north and south side and two arched doors on the east and west side at the ground floor. There are steps connecting the first floor and the second floor, sixty-nine steps, which are relatively steep. On its second floor there originally were 25 drums. Among them, there were one big drum and 24 smaller drums (The big one represents a year and the 24 small drums represent 24 solar terms of China).
Located at the northern end of Di’ anmen Street, Drum Tower and Bell Tower witnessed old Beijing charm, recorded the busy traffic of this city, and experienced the chaos of war. The people in Beijing have special feelings for Drum Tower and Bell Tower. For them, the Forbidden City belongs to the emperor, and the prince’s mansion belongs to the relatives of the emperor, but the sounds of the bell in the morning and the drum in the evening belong to everyone. 25 drums are arranged around the wall surrounding one giant drum measuring two meters in diameter on the second floor of Drum Tower. At 7:00pm the drums were beaten quickly 18 times then slowly for 18 times. It was beaten in cycles until it was beaten for a total of 108 times. This announces the beginning of the night watches. The drums were beaten every two hours which not only announced the time, but also the change of the guards in the city.
Outsiders know Drum Tower and Bell Tower different from locals, or because of Liu Xinwu’s novels, Liu Xinwu’s novels show the authentic old Beijing customs.
Drum Tower and Bell Tower is a group of ancient buildings on the northern section of Beijing’s north-south central axis. For many people the layout of the old Beijing city is almost perfect, and all buildings is based on a north-south central axis in the center of the city. This central axis takes the southern end of Yongdingmen as a starting point, and passes through a collection of buildings such as Zhengyangmen, Tiananmen, Meridian Gate, the three halls in the Outer Court, the three halls of the Inner Court, Gate of Divine Prowess, Jingshan and Di’anmen, and ends at Drum Tower and Bell Tower. This drum is the only retained drum by the destruction of the Eight-Power Allied Forces in those days. The drum surface is damaged and has many knife marks.
In 2010, in a poll conducted by Time magazine in America on the Stars of Asia, Drum Tower and Bell Tower area in Beijing was listed as a place worth seeing before disappearing. Standing on Drum Tower and Bell Tower, you can see the most beautiful central axis in Beijing, Jingshan, Beihai, Shichahai, and the disappearing quadrangle dwellings in the old city.
The cruise ships are rippling with the waves in Houhai, the southern Beihai white pagoda is shining in the sunshine, The farther building is the Xinhua News Agency Building, which resembles a pen.
In ancient China people used a unit of time called Geng and the night was divided into 5 Gengs.
1st Geng at dusk was called the Xu Shi (dog) or Ding Geng was from 19:00 to 21:00
2nd Geng announced the time for to sleep was called Hai Shi (pig) from 21:00 to 23:00
3rd Geng announced the middle of the night was called Zi Shi (rat) from 23:00 to 1:00
4th Geng announced the dawn of a new day was called Chou Shi (ox) from 1:00 to 3:00
5th Geng heralded the dawn of a new day was called Yin Shi (tiger) or Liang Geng from 3:00 to 5:00
When the 1st and 5th Gengs were announced, the drums in the Drum Tower were beaten first followed by the striking of the bell in the Bell Tower. When the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Gengs were announced the Drum Tower was silent and only the bell in the Bell Tower was stuck.
Every night in Beijing when the Bell Tower sounded for the first Geng, the city gate was closed, traffic was stopped and the streets were cleared.
Every morning in Beijing when the Bell Tower sounded for the fifth Geng, the city gate was opened.
People living in Beijing relyed on morning bells to get up in the morning and relyed on evening drums to sleep in the evening whether civil and military officials or civilians.
The distance of Drum Tower and Bell Tower is about 100 meters apart. “The drum tower is in front, the red wall and yellow tiles. The bell tower is behind, the gray wall and green tiles. The drum tower is fat, and the bell tower is thin.” The Drum Tower and Bell Tower functioned as ancient Beijing’s time keepers during the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. They set the pace and rhythm of daily life for everyone, from the emperor to the common citizen. The Drum tower’s drums were used to keep time at night, while the Bell Tower’s bells kept time during the day.
Coming out from Drum Tower, we go through Drum Tower and Bell Tower Square and arrive at Bell Tower. Bell Tower was built in the Yuan Dynasty and was destroyed by fire in the Ming Dynasty, it was rebuilt during the Qianlong era of the Qing Dynasty, to prevent from fire, the entire building adopted the beamless brick and stone arch structure. The design emphasized the function of resonation, sound amplifying and sound transmission, which boasts a unique position in Chinese bell tower architectural history.
The big bell in Bell Tower was cast in the Yongle era of the Ming Dynasty. It is 7.02 meters high and weighs 63 tons. It is the earliest existing and heaviest ancient bell in China, and it can be called the king of ancient bells in China.
Standing on Drum Tower and Bell Tower, except for walking into history, and what we see is a mixed Beijing containing both old era and new era buildings. The low-ceilinged bungalows are covered entirely in the green trees of Beijing’s old city, a scene of carefree life spreads out before us. The streets are busy and row upon row of tall buildings are everywhere in the new district in Beijing, we enjoy the fast pace of urban life, as time go by, every moment we are in progress. The western three oval buildings is Xihuan Square, Beijing Zoo, Exhibition hall, and Planetarium are all nearby.
The bell and drums keep track of the time, and time and tide tell the history. They silently look down at everything in front of them and witness each change as it takes place in the city.
Drum Tower and Bell Tower still stand and continually welcome the next moment, the next day, the next month, the next year, and the next generation.
We travel around China and have a close look at a real China