With literally thousands of years of records, the Nanjing Museum is the place to come to swallow a bite-sized amount of historical information or gorge yourself on the expansive selection. Exhibits in Chinese and English span from neolithic times down to the Republican era. Maps, artwork, even a Han-era jade burial suit are among the exhibits. Travelers agree that the Nanjing Museum gives an appreciable overview to Chinese history, culture and art. Repeat visits always reveal something worthwhile.
The list of activities in the Wutaishan Recreation Park is so long, it is almost easier to think up amenities they do not have. More than a popular stadium, Wutaishan is the place to go in Nanjing for most sports and activities. From a driving range for golf fans to basketball courts and yoga classes, Wutaishan has something for everybody. Indoor tennis, an underground pool hall and informal dance classes can also be found here. If you feel cooped up or it is the first day after the rainy season, the gardens around Wutaishan make excellent walking as well. The Paulaner Brauhaus and Shishang Yunnan Restaurant are just two of the restaurants and cafes that take advantage of the area's outdoor beauty.
Visitors who have been to Beijing will be familiar with the stone animals that stand guard along the path to the tomb of Zhu Yuanzang. The original inspiration lies here in Zijin Shan at the tomb of the Ming Dynasty's first emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. The tomb covers nearly 1214 hectacres (3000 acres) and includes several notable structures, arranged to reflect the Ursa Major constellation, including the Archway for Dismounting, the Stele of Great Merits and the extravagant Walkway of Stone Animals. At the very back of the grounds lies Baocheng (Precious Hall) where the remains of the emperor are interred.
One of the best known landmarks in Nanjing, the Confucius Temple dates back to 1034 and the Song Dynasty. Venerating the great philosopher Confucius, whose teachings are no doubt the most influential in China, the temple became even more significant as Nanjing became the examination site for Confucian scholars taking the Imperial civil service exam at the nearby Examination Hall. As a symbolic center of Nanjing, the temple has also been the target of aggression as well as veneration and has been destroyed and rebuilt several times, the latest after 1937, following the Japanese invasion. The current buildings are designed to fit the Ming-era architecture of the nearby district. Relics and artwork related to the great sage's life, including one of the largest Confucius statue in the world, plus figures of his eight disciples, are all on display.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen was the public face of the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty in 1911. The Zhongshan Ling- Dr. Sun Yat Sen is a reverential state monument on Zijin Shan that combines modern architecture with Ming Era imperial elements, including a many-tiered flight of steps, traditional decorative huabiao columns, and a blue-roofed symbolic sacrificial hall. An Italian marble rendering of Dr. Sun lays across his sarcophagus within the hall, the ceiling of which is painted with the Kuomingtang flag. The Three Principles of the People, democracy, nationalism and people's livelihood, the revolutionary movement's slogan are inscribed across the door.
When Zhu Yuanzhang founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368, he set about rebuilding a war-torn Nanjing in his personal image, one of safety and refinement. The walls surrounding the new city were integral to his image. Nanjing's city walls are distinct from the city walls in ancient capital cities such as Xi'an and Beijing in that they conform to an irregular landscape, rolling over hills and into valleys, for a total of 33 kilometers (20 miles), as opposed to maintaining the symbolic order of a square. It took 200,000 laborers 21 years to move the earth, make the bricks and build the wall. Today, two thirds of the original remain. Experts say that the bricks were mixed with glutinous rice and tung oil (a drying agent), which made them particularly strong, that is one of the reasons the ancient fortification remains standing today.
Located along the lower banks of the Yangtze River, the city of Nanjing is carved by the bygone underpinnings of an 1800-year old history. Far from the dizzying din of Beijing and Shanghai, Nanjing's sleepy corners are filled to the brim with historic remnants and sacred sites from a storied era, although the relaxed city does offer semblances of urbanization too. This southern capital, decked with the handsome foliage of parasol-like wutong trees, is walled by ancient ramparts built during the Ming dynasty, back when Nanjing was established as the capital of the Jiangsu province nearly 600 years ago. Within the cities gargantuan sprawl, imperial heritage structures like the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum, the Confucius Temple, The Gate of China, and the haunting ruins of the Ming Dynasty Palace draw curious tourists from various parts of China. Home to Asia's deepest inland port along the Yangtze River, world class museums that specialize in China's culture and history, and a premier academic destination with over 40 universities, Nanjing is a less-explored gem in the People's Republic of China.
Jiuhaushan Park is located alongside the Ming Wall and can be spotted by people walking around Xuanwu Lake. The small park is covered in trees making it a cool escape from the hot summer sun. The park is also a little ways off from the main road which helps block off most of the traffic noise. There is a well maintained, small tower allowing history and architecture lovers to see some true Ming designs. Unfortunately there are no English signs and the park staff doesn't speak Chinese so getting more information is difficult. -Daniel Clarke
The specialty of the Nanjing Paleontology Museum is the reconstruction of dinosaur fossils found throughout China, including some rare creatures, such as the long-necked Mamenchisaurus. One of the museum's prized possessions includes the world's oldest fossilized flower. The museum is only open at the weekends, but once inside it is easy to get lost in the hours and exhibits as the size of the collection is fairly extensive.
The original Jiming Temple was built at this site in 527. The temple complex has been repeatedly modernized for the last 1500 years. The current layout dates from 1387, however a fire in 1973 gutted most of the complex, which wasn't completely restored until the 1980s. The temple sits along Xuanwu Lake near the ancient City Wall. Visitors can climb to the top of Yaoshi Ta Pagoda for incredible views of the area.
The distinct steel gray buildings with flashes of celebratory red dominate this entertainment complex near the Presidential Palace. Every night of the week feels like Friday as young urban professionals come out to play. Featuring some of Nanjing's most lively dancing and drinking, there is an excellent selection of dining options among the courtyards and archways of Nanjing 1912. Often compared to Shanghai's Xintiandi dining and shopping district, Nanjing 1912 is named for the year the Republic of China was established, with Dr. Sun Yat-sen as China's first president, an homage to the zeitgeist of the era's optimism and hope for change. Some popular spots include Blue Marlin, Scarlet and Mazzo.