Harbin is one of the major cities in Northeast China.
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Often referred to as the “Oriental Moscow” or “Oriental Paris” for its mix of Western and Chinese cultures, Harbin is one of the major cities in Northeast China. Located on the banks of the Songhua River, Harbin is the capital of Heilongjiang Province as well as the biggest city in Northeast China. The city is famous for its moderate weather in summer and its wonderland of ice and snow in winter. Since the founding of the new China, the city has undergone great changes and recorded impressive achievements. Having grown up alongside the far-east railway, built here in 1898, Harbin has become a famous historical city as well as being the cradle of Chinese Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) Culture. In the early 20th century, it became an important international business port and distribution center for Northeast Asia. Encompassing 53,755 square kilometers with a population of 9.27 million, Harbin is one of the most important industrial cities in China and is the country’s largest capital city in terms of area. It is a front-runner in industries such as automobile manufacturing, food production, medicine, mechanics and electrical equipment manufacturing. Lying in the hinterland of the Songhua River (1,840 kilometers long), with a drainage area of 545,600 square kilometers and the Nen River Plains, the city has more than 13.3 million hectares of arable land and has the largest grain provisions in China. Harbin also has an advanced transportation network including five railways and seven main highways that pass through the city. The city contains buildings in European-styles and attracts tourists every year for its ice and snow, forest, Jin-dynasty attractions and traditional customs. In 1998, the city was honoured as one of the best tourist cities in China. The city boasts 24 higher education institutes and more than 400 research institutes. The city has so far built trade relations with more than 100 countries and cultivated ties with 11 cities in 9 countries.
In the 1930s, the city became an important finance and trade center for Northeast Asia. At that time 16 countries had consulates in the city and the 200,000 expatriates who lived there made up a third of the city’s total population. Deeply influenced by foreign culture, the city boasts many examples of Gothic, Baroque and Byzantine architecture.
Ice and Snow Festival in Harbin 哈尔滨冰雪节
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, held on January 5 every year, reflects the city’s economic development and its unique culture. The festival is a unique event celebrated by the Harbin people. Each year, many tourists from home and abroad, especially those who have never Seen ice and snow, will come to the event to enjoy the magic ice sculptures made by the Harbin people. Various splendid ice lanterns will be shown in the Harbin Ice Lantern Park and snow sculptures will be on display at the Sun Island in the city. Besides the ice art exhibition, a series of activities will be held, including Winter swimming, ice hockey, skiing and trade fairs. The festival, which has been held every year since 1985, is expected to attract foreigners to invest in the city once they have Seen its beauty.
The Dragon Tower 龙塔
The Dragon Tower in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, the highest steel-structure tower in Asia, makes icon of the nation’s leading scenic spots in terms of infrastructure and service quality.
Construction of the 336-meter-high Dragon Tower began in 1998 and was completed and opened to the public in October 2002. The tower is multifunctional and combines TV and broadcast transmissions, sightseeing, catering, entertainment, popular science, wireless communications, and environmental and meteorological monitoring as well. The tower has a floor space of 16,600 square meters, including 13,000 square meters of foundation floors and 3,600 square meters of tower floors. Various tourism and catering facilities have been built in the tower to entertain visitors. A police museum on the second floor showcases a gun used at the founding ceremony of the People’s Republic of China, an automatic fingerprint identification system, and vivid depictions of police stories. Also on the same floor is a holy altar of the Red Emperor and the YELLOW Emperor. On the third floor is a corridor of world landscapes, a popular science base for youth and an exhibition hall for the terracotta warriors and horses of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC). A Dragon’s Legend Exhibition Hall is located on the same floor, which displays pictures and sculptures of dragons in various forms. Alongside the exhibition hall is the Dragon’s Offsprings Wax Figure Museum. In China, Thus the museum shows wax figures of 20 illustrious emperors from ten ancient dynasties.
From the third floor, the tourist can take a sightseeing lift to visit the tower and you will find yourself above the tree line, and unfurling below you , a marvelous view of Harbin. The lift will first take the visitor to the “Walking-on-the-Clouds” Corridor at an altitude of 181meters. The corridor, making up of 80 pieces of transparent glass, is a 60-meter-long. It is said to be the longest of its king the world over. Each square meter of the glass can carry a load of 1,000 kilograms, thus it offers an adventurous but definitely safe and rewarding experience to the visitor. At the altitude of 186 meters is the largest rotating restaurant in China. The restaurant features Chinese and Western foods with a seating capacity of approximately 300 people at a time. At the altitude of 190 meters, an outdoor platform provides the visitor with a panoramic view of the city and the Songhua River. Also at the same altitude is a butterfly exhibition hall. Approximately 16,000 kinds of butterfly specimens, including rare species from Argentina, Jamaica, Indonesia, the Philippines, Japan, Myanmar, Afghanistan, and Iran, are on show. The QifuTemple was built at an altitude of 203 meters. It now serves as a museum for artifacts of the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), a dynasty, which had its origin in Northeast China. Another museum is located at an altitude of 206 meters. Which displays historical relics from the Warring States period (475-221 BC) such as swords, ceramics, and the Ming-dynasty Buddha sculptures.
Jewish Museum of History and Culture in Harbin 哈尔滨犹太历史博物馆
The Jewish New Synagogue in the capital of Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province was renovated “back to its original appearance” in 2004. Encompassing 1,230 square meters, and can accommodate up to 800 worshippers, the synagogue was the largest one in Northeast China. It has not been used since Jewish people left the city in the 1950s.
Harbin once had the largest Jewish population in the Far East. In the late 10th and early 20th centuries, it was the largest political, economic and cultural center for Jewish people in the region. Built in 1921, the synagogue was not only an important place of religious observance and community education for Harbin’s Jews, but was also a public library. The synagogue was closed after the city’s Jewish people left in the 1950s, only re-opened in the 1990s, when it was used as a club for the local Public Security Bureau, before being shut down again in 1996. The Harbin municipal government will shoulder part of the synagogue’s reconstruction costs and a foundation will be established to raise the remaining amount.
The synagogue would become a Jewish Museum of History and Culture. An International symposium on the history and culture of Harbin’s Jews was held in Harbin from August 30 to September 2, 2004 organized by the Jewish Research Center of Heilongjiang Provincial Academy of Social Science and the China-Israel Friendship Association. A large-scale exhibition called “Jews in Harbin” was held during the symposium to show relics left by Jewish people who had lived in the city. Many scholars of Jewish culture from home and abroad as well as Jewish people who had once lived in China came here for this event. Most of Harbin’s Jews had moved from Russia to build the Far East railway. The construction of a railway linking Vladivostok and Harbin attracted about 60,000 Jews to northeast China from Russia at the end of 19th century. Local Jews made great contributions to the development and prosperity of Harbin over the past century. Priceless Jewish architecture can be Seen everywhere in Harbin, including synagogues, banks, schools and shops built in the early 20th century. Near the synagogue is a unique style Jewish middle school. Another example of Jewish-style architecture, the Harbin Huangshan Jewish Cemetery, located in the city’s suburbs, is the largest and the best-preserved cemetery in the Far East. It is the resting place for more than 500 Harbin Jews. In June 2004, Ehud Olmert, Israel’s deputy prime minister, paid respects to his grandfather, who is buried in the cemetery. This historical architecture is all on the city’s list of protected landmarks. Each year, many descendants of Harbin Jews from all over the world come back to seek their roots.