Shanghai is the largest city in China in terms of population and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its ...
Shanghai is the largest city in China in terms of population and one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, with over 20 million people in its extended metropolitan area. Located on China's central eastern coast near the mouth of the yangtze river, the city is administered as a municipality with province-level status.
Originally a fishing and textiles town, Shanghai grew to importance in the 19th century due to its favourable port location and as one of the cities opened to foreign trade by the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. The city flourished as a center of commerce between east and west, and became a multinational hub of finance and business by the 1930s. Shanghai's prosperity was interrupted after the 1949 Communist takeover and the subsequent cessation of foreign investment. Economic reforms in 1990 have resulted in intense development and financing, and in 2005 Shanghai became the world's busiest cargo port.
The city is an emerging tourist destination renowned for its historical landmarks such as the Bund and Xintiandi, its modern and ever-expanding Pudong skyline including the Oriental Pearl Tower, and its new reputation as a center of culture and design. Today, Shanghai is mainland China's center for commerce and finance, and has been described as the "showpiece" of the world's fastest-growing economy.
During the Song Dynasty (AD 960–1279) Shanghai was upgraded in status from a village (cun) to a market town (zhen) in 1074, and in 1172 a second sea wall was built to stabilize the ocean coastline, supplementing an earlier dike. From the Yuan Dynasty in 1292 until Shanghai officially became a city for the first time in 1927, the area was designated merely as a county (xian) administered by the Songjiang Prefecture (Songjiang Fu).
Two important events helped promote Shanghai's development in the Ming Dynasty. A city wall was built for the first time during in 1554, in order to protect the town from raids by Japanese pirates (wako), but this wall was neither very high nor very long by comparison with those of other Chinese cities. It measured 10 meters high and 5 kilometers in circumference. During the Wanli reign (1573-1620), Shanghai received an important psychological boost from the erection of a City God Temple (Cheng Huang Miao) in 1602. This honor was usually reserved for places with the status of a city, such as a prefectural capital (fu), and was not normally given to a mere county town (zhen) like Shanghai. The honor was probably a reflection of the town's economic importance, as opposed to its low political status.
During the Qing Dynasty, Shanghai became the most important sea port in the whole Yangzi Delta region. This was a result of two important central government policy changes. First of all, Emperor Kangxi (1662-1723) in 1684 reversed the previous Ming Dynasty prohibition on ocean going vessels, a ban that had been in force since 1525. Secondly, Emperor Yongzheng in 1732 moved the customs office (hai guan) for Jiangsu province from the prefectural capital of Songjiang city to Shanghai, and gave Shanghai exclusive control over customs collections for the foreign trade of all Jiangsu province. As a result of these two critical decisions, Professor Linda Cooke Johnson has concluded that by 1735 Shanghai had become the major trade port for all of the lower Yangzi River region, despite still being at the lowest administrative level in the political hierarchy.
The importance of Shanghai grew radically in the 19th century, as the city's strategic position at the mouth of the Yangtze River made it an ideal location for trade with the West. During the First Opium War in the early 19th century, British forces temporarily held Shanghai. The war ended with the 1842 Treaty of Nanjing, which saw the treaty ports, Shanghai included, opened for international trade. The Treaty of the Bogue signed in 1843, and the Sino-American Treaty of Wangsia signed in 1844 together saw foreign nations achieve extraterritoriality on Chinese soil, the start of the foreign concessions.
The lower reaches of the Yangtze River running through Shanghai bring lots of mud and sand to its estuary. The wind, the river flow and the tide jointly account for the alluvial plain including today's Yangtze River Delta.
Shanghai on the east tip of the delta covers an area of 6,340.5 square kilometers (2,448.1 square miles). The altitude of the city lies between three and five meters. With comparatively soft and loose earth, Shanghai has a slightly higher coastal area in the east and a lower hinterland to the west. The area around Dianshan Lake in the west of the city is the lowest. Plains cover most areas in the middle and east of Shanghai including the city zone and part of Nanhui, Jiading, Minghang, Fengxian and Jinshan Districts.
There are a few hills and small mountains in the southwest Qingpu and Songjiang Districts, including Tianma Mountain, Fenghuang Mountain, Hengshan Mountain and Xiaokunshan Mountain.
Best Time to Visit Shanghai
March to May
Grand Theatre, The Bund of Shanghai, Nanjing Road, Jade Buddha Temple, Yuyuan Garden, Jin Mao Building, Shanghai Museum, Shanghai Wild Animal Park, St. Ignatius Cathedral
Shanghai Attraction Details
Grand Theatre: Shanghai Grand Theater is located at the People's Square in the city heart. The construction of the Grand Theater lasted 4 years from 1994 to 1998. The theater covers an area of 62, 803 square meters, with 10 stories, two for underground, two for lofts and six on the ground.
The elegantly decorated lobby covers approximate 2000 square meters. A large chandelier, formed by six pan-pipes shaped lamp, is suspended in the lobby. The floor is made of a rare marble called "Greece Crystal White". The patterns shaped like piano digital, together with the pillar and the stairs, are full of rhythms.
The Bund of Shanghai: The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from Britain, France, the U.S., Russia, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, a newspaper, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. The Bund lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. This was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. A building boom at the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century led to the Bund becoming a major financial hub of East Asia. The former French Bund, east of the walled city was formerly more a working harbourside.
Nanjing Road: After the Opium War (1839-1842), Shanghai became a treaty port. Nanjing Road was first the British Concession, then the International Settlement. Importing large quantities of foreign goods, it became the earliest shopping street in Shanghai.
Over time, Nanjing Road has been restructured, undergoing significant change. For shopping convenience, its eastern end has an all-weather pedestrian arcade. Big traditional stores no longer dominate the market since modern shopping malls, specialty stores, theatres, and international hotels have mushroomed on both sides of the street.
Jade Buddha Temple: In the western part of Shanghai, a very modern and flourishing city, there is a venerable and famous Buddhist temple, Jade Buddha Temple. In 1882, an old temple was built to keep two jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma by a monk named Huigen. The temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Fortunately the jade Buddha statues were saved and a new temple was built on the present site in 1928. It was named the Jade Buddha Temple.
Yuyuan Garden: Yuyuan Garden is located in the center of Shanghai's Old City, not far from the Bund. With a total area of less than 5 acres, it has more than 40 attractions in the inner and outer gardens, both built in the Ming Dynasty classical style.
The garden is believed to be built in the Ming Dynasty more than 400 years ago. Built in traditional Chinese style with numerous rock and tree garden areas, ponds, dragon-lined walls and numerous doorways and zigzagging bridges separating the various garden areas and pavilions.
Jin Mao Building: Jin Mao Building is a symbolic architecture of Shanghai marching to the 21st century. It is the first tallest in the country and third tallest in the world, hosting the tallest hotel ever built. With an east-meets-west design signifying Shanghai's emergence as a modern global city, Jin Mao follows the multi-use paradigm, offering retail at its base, offices above, and the Grand Hyatt's World's Highest Hotel occupying the upper 38 floors.
The Jin Mao building is designed by US architectural firm Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and was built by the Shanghai Jian Gong Group, the first Chinese national construction group to tackle such a large and significant project.
Shanghai Museum: The Shanghai Museum is a museum of ancient Chinese art, situated on the People's Square in the Huangpu District of Shanghai, People's Republic of China. The museum has a collection of over 120,000 pieces, including bronze, ceramics, calligraphy, furniture, jades, ancient coins, paintings, seals, sculptures, minority art and foreign art. It has eleven galleries and three special temporary exhibition halls. The museum is divided into eleven galleries and three exhibition halls. The eleven Galleries cover most of the major categories of Chinese art: Ancient Bronze, Ancient Ceramics, Paintings, Calligraphy, Ancient Sculpture, Ancient Jade, Coins, Ming and Qing Furniture, Seals, and Minority Nationalities.
Shanghai Wild Animal Park: About 35 kilometers from downtown Shanghai is China's first wild animal safari park, where painstaking efforts have been made to simulate the natural habitats of the resident animals. Over 200 species are segregated according to eating habits: zebras, giraffes, lions, tigers and other fascinating creatures, which can be viewed from the safety of a bus touring through the park. (The buses are not in immaculate condition, but they appear safe.) Visitors can also walk through a bird garden, butterfly area and a petting section, and catch regular shows featuring sea lions and other performing animals.
St. Ignatius Cathedral: St. Ignatius Cathedral (Xujiahui Tianzhutang) is Shanghai's great cathedral, opened by the Jesuits who have had a church here since as early as 1608. Today's structure dates from 1910.
The Jesuits were invited here by a local high-ranking Míng Dynasty official, landowner, and scientist, Xú Guangqí (the district's name Xújiahuì, means "Xú Family Village"), who was himself converted to Catholicism by the Jesuits' most famous missionary to China, Matteo Ricci (1553-1610). Xú is buried in a public park named after him on Nándan Xi Lù, southwest of the cathedral.
This largest of Shanghai's cathedrals, with space for over 2,500 inside, sports a gargoyled roof and twin red-brick spires which were destroyed in the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and rebuilt in 1980. Its vast interior is filled with altars, stone columns, Gothic ceilings, stained glass windows, and paintings of the Last Supper and Stations of the Cross.
How to reach Shanghai
Shanghai has two international airports something no other city in China can boast. Pudong International Airport handles 60% of flights including most flights from all over the world, while the remaining 40% use Hongqiao International Airport. As one of the main Chinese airline hubs, Shanghai has opened connections with nearly two hundred cities, half domestic ones and half international and regional ones.
The city of Shanghai has several railway stations, among which Shanghai Railway Station, Shanghai South Railway Station and Shanghai West Railway Station are the main ones. These three stations provide convenient transportation for tourists to many destinations throughout China.
By Long-Distance Bus
National Highway Lines 312 (Shanghai-Yining City of Xinjiang), 318 (Shanghai-Zhangmu Town of Tibet) and 320 (Shanghai-Ruili of Yunnan) all start from Shanghai and go westward. National Highway Line 204 (Yantai-Shanghai), the trunk line of the Tongjiang-Sanya National Highway, stretches as a north-south artery through Shanghai. Four main expressways of Huning (Shanghai-Nanjing), Huhang (Shanghai-Hangzhou), Hujialiu (Shanghai-Jiading-Taicang), and Huqingping (Shanghai-Qingpu-Pingwang) link Shanghai with lots of cities in neighboring areas.
Shanghai, situated at the estuary of Yangtze River and midpoint of China's north-south coastline, is the world's third largest port and China's largest seaport. It is the only port in China connecting the country's shipping system of sea, river, and freshwater.
Ships sailing from Shanghai Port voyage to some 500 ports in over 160 countries and regions all over the world. Due to the slow speed, some long-distance sea routes have been closed. However, the quantity of the goods moved in and out of Shanghai port ranks highly among the world's major ports. Passenger transportation through Shanghai port is also busy. The following is detailed introduction to the main passenger ports in Shanghai.
Where to stay in Shanghai
Shanghai Jiyage Business Hotel, Shanghai Shizeyuan Hotel, Jin Chang Hotel, Donghu Guest House, Park View Hotel Shanghai, Radisson Plaza Xingguo, St. Regis Hotel