By: Daniel Otero
Nanjing, China – Many of those who want to know more about this city and the grandiose mysteries should do a little research before arriving in Nanjing or moving here. It’s after all one of the oldest in the world; full of history and culture. And it shows it in every reflection, in the sites and sounds! It unites itself from east to west and as the former capital of China one finds a dozen things to marvel about! One to amaze…
What this article intends to do is to ‘breakdown’ and hopefully focus on what’s important in the city to see… Whether it’s your first visit or your continuance in learning about the City! Exploration should begin with the Metro lines; Nanjing has two from north to south and east to west. From Xinjiekou is the downtown city center where the action should begin.
Day 1 (morning):
Easy and accessible, Metro line 1 can take you up to the North Nanjing Railway Station. Once here, take one of the main exits and walk one block down and take bus number 10 to “Lion Mountain”. The actual Hill is 78 metres in height, show-casing on the right side the statue of Zheng He, the greatest Muslim explorer and eunuch that sailed to over 30 countries inside a career spanning over 20 years, for China’s naval empire. Going up the Hill there’s a beautifully layered multi-colored palace, Yuejiang. One of the most beautiful I have ever seen in the whole of China and measuring 52 metres or seven stories. Inside there is a model of one of Zheng He’s ships. This palace began as a dream by the Ming Dynasty. Established in 1374, it’s one of the most impressive!
This visit is like fine wine and should be enjoyed slowly! So take at least three hours to explore and climb these premises. That’s more than enough time to enjoy the ‘Mountain’, Palace and portions of the Great Nanjing City Wall…
The Nanjing City Wall is a 600 year old wonder to the world and inside a city established by Emperor Sun Quan, 1,800 years before. This Wall was the longest city barrier in the world, with 34 kilometers till the 17th Century.
Day 1 (afternoon):
For lunch Nanjing has some of the best and delicious gourmet food. The stop to head for is Sanshajie. Here is Confucius Temple. There’s a building inspired in the 11th Century by the Song Dynasty. In dedication to one of the greatest teachers of philosophy; now Confucius existed some 2,500 years ago and he was greatly famous then and now, as he is known all over the world for his ethics and values in philosophy. Teaching up to 3,000 students a day!
When this visit is completed, near Sanshajie there’s bus 31 to connect the visitor to 1912. It’s the bar, restaurant and party District for fun, fun, fun! Party the night away! Also, around the corner from 1912 there’s the Nanjing Presidential Palace. This palace was built in a 19th Century in Neo-Classical style and after the Emperors, enjoyed by the first Presidents of China, Sun and Chang.
The other point and one of importance is the Nanjing Memorial Hall. Entrance is free of charge. Warning, their doors close at 5:30 p.m. Changing from Metro line 1 to line 2–the stop is Yunjin Lu and taking exit 2 will place the visitor right at the doorstep of this site. Considered hollow ground and called ‘The Pit of 10,000 corpses’ (Jiangdongmen). Other than a remembrance, another reason to visit is the underground architecture and outside sculptures. Focusing on the cross that indicates the dates of the Massacre! There is a ‘great giant-head’ on the extreme end, representing the butchery and savagery committed by the JIA (Japanese Imperial Army) against the civilian population. The number of victims is shown throughout the walls of the site and there’re statues of victims showing the level of cruelty at all levels. One statue that always touches me deeply is the lady who was struck by a katana sword on her shoulder-blade and how lucky she was to survive!
On the inside, one ‘walled expo’ to notice is that of John Rabe. Man responsible for saving the lives of 200 thousand Chinese in the International Safety Zone. He has easily been forgotten in history and known throughout Germany and the world as one of the greatest humanitarians, responsible for saving 40% of the population in Nanjing.
Another statue to visit, to remember and honour is the one dedicated to deceased writer, Iris Chang. Writer of the “Rape of Nanjing” and a book to read in remembrance of this Massacre; and one thing is important to consider, two countries should be brought together instead of fostering more hatred. Furthermore, it’s to keep in mind that something like this should never happen again in any part of the world.
Day 2 (morning and end of trip):
From line 2 of the Metro, get off at Muxuyuan. Here’s magical Purple Mountain or known in Chinese as, Zijin. Once exiting the Station, walk to the local bus station and take bus number 1 to Sun Yat-sen’s mausoleum (Sun Zhong Shan). The tomb is inspirational and was built in white-marble, topped in blue tile and in a grand Chinese-architectural style, rising up 392 steps. Keep the energy and two bottles of water. It’s a rather brisk walk. Take time getting up to Dr. Sun’s statue and tomb. The climb takes between 40 to 50 minutes… This amazing landmark is for free. Important is to focus on the ceiling of the Tomb and look for the old Kuomingtern flag. It inspired Chang Kei-chek’s desire to built a similar tomb and drape it with the National Party flag back in Taiwan.
Nothing ever gets boring in this town to explore and discover. It never gets old. A quick visit can take roughly 36 hours. More than that give your self a week to learn about this town of mystery! This ancient capital will truly come to life. Enjoy my city, Nanjing!