Its prime location on the east coast has placed Shanghai at the center of China’s modern history, as trade arrived by sea, bringing with it world cultures, creativity, and conflict. While Shanghai rose to power in the 19th century, the region around the vast metropolis has a long history of prominence. Nearby Nanjing, The People’s Republic of China’s “Southern Capital” has maintains a strong Chinese identity, in contrast to cosmopolitan Shanghai.
With 23 million people and a remarkably diverse urban fabric, Shanghai’s energy may be unrivaled in all of Asia. It was, during the 1920’s and 30’s the most prosperous city in East Asia, and seems to be experience a second golden era today as skyscrapers shoot up in the Pudong area of the city. Young dreamers make their way to Shanghai to seek their fortunes, fueling an exciting luxury economy and contemporary art scene that builds on Shanghai’s history as a hub of the entertainment industry and other creative pursuits.
On the other side of the Huangpu River, in the historic Puxi district, Shanghai’s story is told in the architecture. Here buildings remain from a the 19th century when Germany, France, Italy, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States were granted “concessions” in the port city. The concessions were run by the visiting governments, and still reflect a European sensibility, though they have been reclaimed by Chinese sovereignty since the mid-20th century. The quirky and charming French Concession is a great place to see how the people of Shanghai spend their leisure time, making the most of the easy walking culture and park space.
The Bund is another popular part of the city to see the international influences along among the wharves and streets. The era reflects a colonial heritage, now bustling with high end restaurants, hotels and shopping, and looking across the river at the towering skyscrapers of the modern city.
For a real glimpse into the life span of Chinese culture, Nanjing offers a glimpse int the internal forces that shaped the country. Nanjing’s UNESCO World Heritage Ming Tombs invite you to delve into a complex history of competing families, and later internal governments. Nanjing was the capital of serveral dynasties, and remains the official capital of the Republic of China (Taiwan).
Ker & Downey’s destination experts will help you plan the perfect blend of history and modernity as you prepare to visit this exciting region of China.