An Insider’s Look at Nanjing

An Insiders Look at Nanjing
An Insiders Look at Nanjing

History buffs take note! The city of Nanjing was the capital of China for six dynasties. They are:


An Insider's Look at Nanjing

Even if you’re not a fan of history it’s worth stopping here for a few days to sample some delicious regional cuisine and tour some of the city’s unique museums. Nanjing is a three hour train ride from Shanghai and once getting into town a good place to begin a walking tour is in Xinjiekou Square, which has all the ubiquitous fast food restaurants like KFC and McDonalds. Beside the Pizza Hut there’s a bakery called Bread Talk which has a combination of Chinese and Western pastries. You can also buy some iced coffee and fruit juice. Taking advantage of an incredibly large consumer market, Wal Mart has opened a store at the southeast corner of the square.

Nanjing has a large bazaar near the Confucian Temple called Fuzi Miao. To get there from Xinjiekou hop on the southbound #26 bus and get off when you see the large pedestrian entrance on the left hand side of the street. On the weekends this area gets crowded with Nanjing’s younger crowd.

Hunan Road is the district where you can try a special Nanjing dish, duck blood soup. It may not sound very appetizing, but the blood is kept in the refrigerator and when combined with soup it’s coagulated. It’s served in a steaming broth with vermicelli noodles and seasoned with pepper and salt. Once your taste buds have adjusted the soup is delicious, and comforting on cold winter nights.

Nanjing is also well known for another reason, the Nanjing Massacre. The Japanese military seized control of the city in 1937 and began killing the Chinese inhabitants. Estimates put the death toll at 300,000 men, women and children. The display hall inside the museum shows the brutality of the Japanese soldiers, but despite these atrocities, few people know about this period of Chinese history. The absence of any formal apology or compensation by the Japanese government to the survivors of the massacre has only fuelled anti-Japanese sentiments in Nanjing.

Dr. Sun Yat-sen, founder of the modern republic, rests in a mausoleum near Purple Mountain on the city’s eastern outskirts. The mountain itself is 1,467 feet high and is shrouded by unusual purple clouds in the early morning and at dusk. Visitors will appreciate the Nanjing Museum, which has jade and earthenware exhibits on display as well as some porcelain from the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

Nanjing is often referred as one of the “four furnaces of China,” the other cities being Wuhan, Chongqing and Chengdu. The city gets extremely hot and humid in the summer months and heat waves can last for days at a time. The major shopping centres have air conditioning, and Xuanwu Lake with its many trees at the north end of the city would also provide some relief from the heat.

The most expensive hotel in town is the five star Jinling Hotel near Xinjiekou Square. Backpackers can find a cheap bed at the Sunflower International Youth Hostel near Fuzi Miao.

author avatar
Ken Wells