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Home >> Cruise >> Excursions & Sights >> Nanjing

Nanjing

Nanjing, historically also Nanking, the capital of China's Jiangsu Province, is a prominent city with brilliant history and culture. The city is situated in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, 300 kilometers from Shanghai, the mouth of the river. For its advantageous location, it served as the capital of China during several historical periods and is listed as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China. Nanjing was also the capital of the Republic of China before the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Nanjing has also served as a national hub of education, research, transportation and tourism throughout history. It has many historical sites including Ming tombs(Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum) that are on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

NanjingWith the Yangtze on one side, and surrounded on the other three sides by hills, Nanjing was thought to be auspicious as well as strategically important. First historical records date from the Spring and Autumn period(770--476 BC) when the area was divided between the Kingdoms of Wu, Yue and Chu. A walled town was built during the Eastern Han period(AD 25--220), known as 'Stone City'. Between the third and l4th centuries, eight dynasties established their capitals in the city, some of them building magnificent palaces and forts.

And Nanjing distinguished itself as one of the cultural hubs in the following dynasties and prospered during the Tang Dynasty with some of the most important poets of Chinese history living in the city for a lifetime.

The first emperor of the Ming Dynasty Zhu Yuanzhang(the Hongwu Emperor) seized Nanjing and set up his capital here in 1368, building palaces, temples and pagodas. He also enlarged the city wall to make it the longest in the world. It took 200,000 laborers 21 years to finish the project. The present-day city wall of Nanjing was mainly built during that time, and it is the longest surviving city wall in the world. Nanjing remained the capital of the Ming Empire until 1421, when the third emperor of the dynasty, Zhu Di, relocated the capital to Beijing.

Following the revolution of 1911, Nanjing was selected as the capital of the Republic of China in 1912 with Dr. Sun Yat-sen as the first provisional president.(Dr Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Nationalist Republic, was buried here in 1929.) And the Presidential Palace in Nanjing was chosen as their headquarters. Once lost power, Sun Yat-sen's followers, also known as the Kuomintang(KMT) regained control over Nanjing in 1927, and it remained capital until the Japanese occupied the city in l937, when an estimated 400,000 residents perished in what became known as the 'Rape of Nanjing'. In early 1949 the People's Liberation Army entered Nanjing, driving the Nationalist government, the Kuomintang(KMT), first to Guangzhou and then to Taiwan.

Presidential Palace

Presidential Palace NanjingPresidential Palace is a magnificent witness of the involute history of China during the 1910's to 1940's. After the Xinhai Revolution in 1911, the Nationalists, namely the Kuomintang(KMT), founded the Republic of China and declared Nanjing as their capital. Their leader Sun Yat-sen was sworn in at the Presidential Palace as the provisional President of the Republic of China. Once lost power, the Kuomintang(KMT) under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek again established Nanjing as the capital of the Republic of China in 1927. The following decade is known as the Nanjing decade, as they used the Presidential Palace in Nanjing as their headquarters.

Till now, you can still see the same decoration, unchanged for decades, of the offices, the conference room and Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's living room. It is one the few places in mainland China where the flag of the Republic of China still flies. There also have a garden back of the palace, where you can take a break and enjoy the view of the green plants. The building itself is in good conditions and stands still despite of all the changes, hardship and wars. The exhibition and introduction in the building offer an insight of the complicated and yet fascinating history of the certain time of China's history.

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum

The Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is one of the most important and magnificent imperial tombs in China. And as a part of the "Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Dynasties", the Mausoleum is listed as a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. It is the tomb of the Hongwu Emperor(also Zhu Yuanzhang, the founder of Ming Dynasty) and Queen Ma. It lies to the east of Nanjing City at the southern foot of Zijin(Purple) Mountain. Legend says that in order to prevent robbery of the tomb, 13 identical processions of funeral troops started from 13 city gates to obscure the real burying site.

Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum NanjingMing Xiaoling Mausoleum is regarded as the fist and foremost tomb architecture of Ming Dynasty. It distinguishes itself for its magnificent scale, unique design, and eminent stone statues. It's a milestone in the historical development of Chinese mausoleums. And it influenced the forming and constructing of the following Ming and Qing Dynasties tombs for over 500 years.

The winding Sacred Way(the road leading to the respected imperial tomb) of 1800 meters long is very appealing. At the begining of the road, erects a splendid carved stone stele in the memory of the Hongwu Emperor Zhu Yuanzhangon on which a hymn was inscribed by his his fourth son. In the middle of the sacred way, six kinds and twelve pairs of animal sculptures guard the tomb. Beyond them is a pair of decorative columns called Huabiao in Chinese. Four pairs of ministers and generals have been standing there for centuries to accompany His and Her Majesty beneath.

At the north end of the Sacred Way nestles the main body of the mausoleum. The tomb complex is divided into 2 parts, the overgrond and underground parts. There you will start from the Golden Water Bridge(Jin Shui Qiao) and arrive at the main gate named Wen Wu Archway. You next arrive at the Xiao Ling Hall, the main structure of the mausoleum. Portraits of the Emperor and Queen Ma are hanging there on the wall. The emperor and his queen were buried in a clay vault, 400 meters in diameter. On a stone wall surrounding the vault, 7 Chinese characters were inscribed, identifying the mausoleum of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. The grandness of the mausoleum reveals the top rank of the funeral customs in feudal China.

Nanjing Museum

Nanjing MuseumThe Nanjing Museum is situated in the city center, where a number of old Chinese architecture is still standing. It is one of the largest museums in China.

There is very wide range of invaluable collection in the Nanjing Museum, it spans over tens of thousands of years. The most famous relics including the sailing of Zheng He(the eunuch admiral of the Ming Dynasty who explored at least to Africa, perhaps further), the famous full size suit of armour made from small jade tiles held together by silver wire, full sized mannequins dressed in traditional local costumes. The Nanjing Museum has also published many books concerning the research in Nanjing's cultural heritage. Exhibitions in ancient culture are frequently held.

The Nanjing Museum is pleasantly well-equipped and has a team of interpreters who are very fluent in Chinese and English, a high quality automatic speaker system of Chinese, English and Japanese language to help to inform visitors.

Confucius Temple

Confucius Temple NanjingLocated at the south of the city center, the Confucius Temple in Nanjing is a place to worship and offering sacrifices to Confucius, the great philosopher and educator of ancient China. This temple suffered several damages throughout history and was rebuilt on several occasions.

Nowadays, it becomes a center of commerce and tourism with recent expansion, renovation and restoration. And the original building is expanded into a complex in the architectural style of the Ming(1368-1644) and Qing(1644-1911) dynasties, including the Confucius Temple itself, the Jiangnan Gongyuan(the place of imperial examinations) and the Xue Gong(the Imperial Academy). The complex is still called the Confucius Temple out of habit of the locals and visitors.

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