incredible Jinmao Building in Pudong (Shanghai's Wall Street) is the
tallest building in China, the second tallest in Asia, houses the
tallest hotel ever built and is currently the third tallest building
in the world! On a clear day, the Jinmao acts as a beacon for locals
and travelers who need to find their bearings, towering above the old
city skylines. It is the center of gravity in the area as Pagodas were
in ancient China.
The building is a superb design,
combining elements of traditional Chinese architecture and a gothic
influence to produce this amazingly modern building. Architects
designed the building around the theme of the Chinese pagoda and the
number eight. The lowest segment of the building is sixteen stories
high and each succeeding segment is 1/8th smaller than its
predecessor. The Jinmao is impressive from wherever you are in the
city and when you are right next to it, other Shanghai skyscrapers
look like lego blocks in comparison.
Inside the building there are various
restaurants, food halls and bars and Shanghai's newest and most
fashionable hotel, The
Grand Hyatt. There is a viewing platform up on the 88th floor
which, if you don't suffer from vertigo, provides unbeatable views
over the city. It is hard to imagine just how high this is, until you
actually get up there, but your ears will definitely "pop"
at least two or three times on the way up!
The position of the building, in
Shanghai's newest and ostensibly most trendy area, and the incredible
design make the Jinmao one of the most spectacular and already
most famous sites not just in Shanghai, but throughout China. And it
is a fitting symbol of new Shanghai too: young, vibrant and
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City God's Temple (Laochenghuangmiao)is a major yet relatively
inactive, Taoist temple in Shanghai. It is located in the area south
of Yan'an Road on the Fangbang Zhong Road.
During the Ming Dynasty, Zhangshouyue,
the head of Shanghai County, dedicated a temple to the local city god.
Since then, the City God's Temple has been destroyed several times and
the current temple was built in 1926. During the the war of resistance
against Japanese invasion during World War II, local merchants built a
new City God's Temple in the Foreign Concession (between Lianyun Road
and West Jinling Road).
That area is now a highrise residence
building. The "former" temple is known as the Old City God's Temple. The Old City God's Temple and the enclosed Yuyuan
Gardens are not only famous tourist sites but also popular
shopping attractions. There are boutiques, shops selling local
specialties, as well as large jewelry stores, department stores and
fabulous local snack restaurants to be found here.
How to get there: The Temple is
situated in the heart of the Yuyuan bazaar area. Walk south along the
Bund and bear left.
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Originally built in 1906, Shanghai's largest Catholic Church is located in the Xujiahui district, a relatively new and fast developing area just west of the French Concession where many of the city's offices and businesses are based. The Shanghai Stadium is nearby to the south.
The St. Ignatius Cathedral had its spires destroyed by the Red Guards and was closed for ten years. Today it has been gloriously restored and has a huge and enthusiastic Catholic community. Services are available every Sunday morning.
Address: No.6 Caoxibei Lu
How to get there: Take the subway to Xujiahui station, and exit at Caoxibei Lu.
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Xin Tian Di will be your closest match to what Lan Kwai Fong is to Hong Kong. Indeed, this ambitious area was build by Hong Kong's Shui On Group and contains stylish and expensive shops, pubs and restaurants. Prices for food generally start at RMB 200 but if you head into the 'mall' complex at Xin Tian Di south, you will find a McDonalds and a few medium-end restaurants where you can save your wallet from certain destruction. The Shikumen houses have been renovated to suit modern tastes and do not resemble anything you will find in traditional Shikumen areas. Shanghai Xin Tian Di is where 'yesterday meets tomorrow in Shanghai today'.
Before the development of Shanghai Xin Tian Di, the area it encompasses had been a spread of aged lanes crowded with mid-19th century Shikumen buildings which had witnessed the changes of time. The Shikumen style was a combination of influences from home and abroad, showing Shanghai's culture of that era.
Xin Tian Di Plaza is divided into the North and South Blocks. In the South Block, modern architecture is the motif while Shikumen is an accompaniment. In the north, preserved Shikumen set a nostalgic tone, forming a splendid contrast with the modernity to the south. A shopping, entertainment and leisure complex of 25,000 square meters in the South Block opened in mid 2002. Aside from a series of international restaurants representing the flavours of the world, there are classy boutiques, accessory shops, a food court, a movie cinema and a great one-stop fitness centre. In the North Block, antique buildings with their modern interior design, decorations and equipment play host to a dazzling array of restaurants specializing in French, American, German, British, Brazilian, Italian, Japanese, Taiwanese and Hong Kong cuisine, putting on display the full international dimension of Shanghai Xin Tian Di. The dividing line between the two blocks, Xingye Road, is the site of the First Congress Hall of the Chinese Communist Party.
There are also Taipingqiao Lake and Park in central Xin Tian Di, which cover 44,000 square meters. Inside the park are tall trees and low-lying greenery, affording visitors a serene resting place. The lake is the largest man-made lake in downtown Shanghai, covering 12,000 square meters. At the centre of the lake are a set of impressive fountains and two little islets dotting the surface. The islets are named Magnolia and Unison.
When people walk into the lanes of Shikumen buildings in Shanghai Xin Tian Di, they walk on the same gray flagstones and see the same red and black bricks, lacquered doors and Baroque doorframes as those who walked there generations and generations before them. Shanghai Xin Tian Di visitors will feel as if they are time travelling back half a century, though once they step int, the sight of the new is quite a surprise. The air of international cuisines, the eclectic offerings among shops and boutiques, the endless first-rate service and the sublime beauty attached to every modern and historical detail of the compound, all reflect the dynamic fashion and character of Shanghai Xin Tian
Access Xin Tian Di by travelling south from South Huangpi Rd Station on Huaihai Rd.
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The Yuyuan gardens are situated not far from the Bund in the southwestern side of the city. The Yuyuan is certainly tacky- a kind of China meets Disney with an added twist- but nevertheless well worth a visit.
The Gardens themselves were completed in 1577 by the Pan family in Shanghai. The original Gardens were destroyed twice in the 1800s and have now been restored. They are usually pretty busy but, are worth looking at if you can either come during the week or are prepared to face the masses. The gardens cover a significant space and include a few halls, springs and other buildings of interest.
The area surrounding the Gardens makes up the Old City God's Temple Area and was known in colonial times as the "Chinese
City". Today, the area directly around Yuyuan has been "renovated" somewhat tastelessly and is a mass of tourist shops and naff decorations. The Queen of England visited here recently and took tea in the famous Huxinting Tea House. The tea house is something of an institution around these parts and while quaint and interesting, is extortionately over-priced.
What is nice about this area are the numerous antique markets and the small side streets which have yet to be renovated by the authorities. There is a great antique market just off Shanghai "Old street" and another on a small alley called Dongtai Lu. Be prepared to bargain hard in these places though. Some of the stuff is genuine but other "antiques" are less authentic and its slightly worrying that the most popular English word in these places seems to be "very old, very cheap"!
Address: This area is a fair size and includes the streets around Fuyou Street, Dongtai Lu and Henan Lu.
How to get there: Walk south along The Bund then swing a right at Jinling Dong Lu. The Old City is the area to the south.
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