Located in the lower Yangtze River drainage basin and Yangtze River Delta economic zone, Nanjing has long been one of China's most important cities.
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The city’s representative flower is plum blossom and its tree being cedar 南京的市花是梅花，市树是雪松。Why the plum blossom is selected as the city’s flower is because it boasts five petals symbolizing the eternal unity of the five major nationalities such as Han, Manchu, Mongolia, Hui and Tibet. Others say plum blossom is the symbol of five blessings 五福的象征, such as happines 快乐 , luck 幸运 , longevity 长寿 , successfulness 顺利, and peace 和平. The city was first built in 472 BC. Built in the period 1366 to 1386, the perimeter of the city wall of Nanjing totals 33.4 kilometers, ranking number one in the world. Nanjing--- “Southern Capital”—along with Xi’an, Luoyang, Beijing, Anyang, Kaifeng, and Hangzhou, is the one of the seven historical capitals of China, and the many imperial tombs and architectural remains in the city and its environs reflect it grandiose past. Today, the city is the capital of Jinagsu Province, encompassing 6,421 square kilometers and with a population of over 5.37 million. Its industries include machine-building, automobile assembly, electronics, petroleum, iron and steel, textiles, shipbuilding and foodstuff. A double-tiered road and rail bridge, completed in 1968, spans the Yangtze River in Nanjing.
With the Yangtze River on the north side, and surrounded on the other three sides by hills, Nanjing was thought to be auspicious as well as strategically important. As early as 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, primitive clan villages already appeared in the Nanjing area. At the end of the Spring and Autumn period (770-476 BC), Yecheng of Nanjing was an important site for metallurgy for Fuchai, King of the State of Wu. In 475 BC, the first year of the Warring States period, Goujian, King of the State of Yue, destroyed the State of Wu, and Fanli, his prime minister, built a city at Changganli of Nanjing, which was the first city wall of Nanjing. In 334 BC, King Weiwang of the State of Chu defeated the State of Yue and occupied all the land of the State of Wu. Afraid that another ruler would emerge from Nanjing, King Weiwang chose a place and buried a gold statue of man there to suppress such emergence. From that time on, Nanjing has also been called “Jinling” (Mausoleum of Gold).
After Qinshihuang, first emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), who unified China in 221 BC, the name of Jinling was changed to Moling County. In AD221, at the end of the Han Dynasty, Sun Quan of the State of Wu moved his capital from Jingkou (today’s Zhenjiang) to Moling, and converted the name of Moling into Jianye (meaning establishment of exploits) the following year. When Sun Quan became emperor, he made Jianye (former name for Nanjing) his capital. This was the beginning of the history of Nanjing as a capital. After the State of Wu, the Eastern Jin Dynasty and the Southern Dynasties (Song, Qi, Liang, and Chen), altogether six dynasties (the Six Dynasties—the six dynasties between the downfall of the Han in 220 and the reunification of China in 589, which had for their capital what is now Nanjing—i.e. the Wu, the Eastern Jin, the Song, the Qi, the Liang and the Chen), also made Jianye (former name for Nanjing) their capital. Later, the Southern Tang of the Five Dynasties, the early Ming Dynasty, and the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Revolution led by Hong Xiuquan (1814-1864), and the Provisional Government of the Republic of China made Nanjing their capital one after another, for a total period of 449 years. Therefore, the city was also called the “capital of ten dynasties.”
In 212, Sun Quan (182-252, ruled 229-252) built Shitou (Stone) City, a military fortress, at Mount Shitou. Nowadays, there are still traces, which can be found. Proceeding not far northward, along the highway outside Hanzhong Gate, visitors can See the greenish grey city wall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) built with the mountain as its back and its foundation being precipices at the River shore. A reddish brown rock, about six meters long and three meters wide, rises between the outside of Qingliang Gate and Gaochang Gate. Its surface is uneven and looks like a grimace, so it is called “Grimace City” by the people of Nanjing. This is the world-famous Stone City.
Over 30 stone carvings of mausoleums of the Southern Dynasties are preserved in Nanjing, including stone beasts, stone columns, and stone steles. In front of the tombs of emperors and kings stand unicorns and “Tianlu” (a fabulous creature); standing in front of the tombs of the nobility are stone lions, also called here-say-attackers. These stone beasts were all carved from huge rocks with a length and width both about four meters, each weighing about 15,000 kilograms. With open mouth and protruding tongue, the beasts hold their heads high and stick out their chests, bend their bodies and have their tails hanging down, appearing impressive and imposing.
The foundation of the stone columns is a pair of fabulous dragons, which hold pearls in their mouths, each with two horns on their heads, and with their heads and tails intersecting with each other, lying in the form of a ring. On the upper part of the column there is a horizontal tablet, the inscription on the right being written in normal form, while that on the left in reversed form, or on the left the text goes from left to right, while on the right the text goes from right to left. This is peculiar to the stone columns of the tombs of the Southern Dynasties. According to experts, the text written in normal form is meant for visitors to the tombs and the text written in reversed form is supposed to be read by the deceased. These bodies carved from huge rocks rare, exquisite carvings in the art treasure house of the world.
Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), captured Nanjing in 1356 and established his capital here, building palaces, temples and pagodas. The famous green and white-glazed-tile Porcelain Pagoda of the Gratitude (Bao’en Temple 报恩寺)，so often praised as one of the seven wonders of the world by earlier travelers, belonged to this period, though it was totally destroyed during the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom Revolution (1851-1864).In the Ming Dynasty, Nanjing was the the political, economic and cultural center of China. In the 53 years of the early Ming Dynasty, before the capital was moved from Nanjing to Beijing from 1368 to 1420, a lare number of cultural relics and historical sites were left over. For instance, Xiaoling Mausoleum of the Ming Dynasty, tombs of meritorious officials of the Ming Dynasty, ruins of the former palace of the Ming Dynasty, Mochou Lake, Shengqi Tower, Tomb of Zheng He (1371-1435), Jinghai Temple, the Tomb of the King of Bone, a part of the ancient astronomical instruments of Zijinshan (Purple Mountain) Observatory.
Following the 1911 Revolution, Nanjing was declared the capital of the Republic of China in 1912. (Dr Sun Yat-sen, founder of the Nationalist Republic, was buried in the eastern part of Nanjing here in 1929). The bronze statue of Dr Sun Yat-sen (1866-1925), the late Chinese revolutionary leader, stands in the Xinjiekou area of downtown Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province. It was the first time the 5.75-meter-high, 6.2-ton statue was cleaned and polished it was erected on November 12, 1996.
Nanjing Man 南京人
In Nanjing, after completing the latest evaluation of the skull, local paleontologists and their Australian colleagues have confirmed that “Nanjing Man” lived more than 500,000 years ago according to Professor Wang Yongin of Nanjing Normal University. After using a new thermal ionization mass spectrometer, Zhao Jianxin from the University of Queensland, Australia, estimated the skull dated back 580,000 to 620,000 years. This is consistent with the results Professor Wang and Chinese American scientist Cheng Hai obtained some years ago in the United States. A male and female skull of “Nanjing Man” were discovered in 1993 in Tangshan Cave near Nanjign, and were initially believed to be about 150,000 years old. Scientists held that the discovery of “Nanjing Man” provides important clues to human evolution. It follows the other significant discoveries of “Peking Man”, “Yuanmou Man,” in Yunnan, “Lantian Man” in Shaanxi and “Hetian Man” in Anhui. Chinese scientist believe that their research indicates that multiple regions have contributes to human evolution. Some international scientists, who hold that Africa was the only place where human beings evolved, have questioned such beliefs. The skull is now preserved in Nanjing Museum and undergoing in-depth research. Professor Wang first published a thesis on “Nanjing Man” in 1999.
A Ming City to Be Built in Nanjing 南京将建名城
A Ming-dynasty City of 10 square kilometers will be built in the Southern suburb of Nanjing with an investment of 3 billion yuan (US $ 360 million), adding to the 300 manmade scenery spots throughout China. The Ming City will include a part representing culture and life in the era of the Ming Dynasty, a Nanjing Amusement Park similar to the one in Suzhou, and about 10 “water towns” comprising villas. The project will be completed in five years. The scenic spot aims to attract residents of Nanjing and tourists from East China, especially from Shanghai. Its location, at Niutoushan, is near 10 highways, including one from Shanghai to Nanjing and the Nanjing Lukou International Airport. The cultural relics nearby, including the tomb of Zheng He (1371-1435) and tombs of two emperors of the Southern Tang, will be well protected during the construction and developed into tourism sites. Tourism projects will be launched in Jiangning after Ming City, further representing the traditions of the Qinhuai River and life in the capitals of the Qin Dynasty, the Three Kingdoms, the Southern and Northern Dynasties and the Kuomintang period before 1949.
Mochou Lake 莫愁湖
The lake covers an area of about 47 hectares (117.5 acres), and 5 kilometers in perimeter. Legend relates that in the Qi Dynasty (479-502), a talented and beautiful girl called Mo Chou from Luoyang, Henan who traveled afar and married to Lu family in South China and lived by the lakeside, hence the name of the lake. It was opened as a public park in 1929. In the park there are Yujin Hall, the Mid-Lake Pavilion, Lotus-Enjoying Pavilion, and Victory-at-Chess Pavilion.
Confucius Temple 夫子庙
In the south of Nanjing, near a stretch of the Qinhuai River (located in the southwestern part of Jiangsu Province, and an 110-kilometer-long tributary of the Yangtze River), is a newly developed area with Qing-style buildings, house shops and restaurants and is also a tourist attraction. The city government has created the bustling bazaar that clustered round the Song-dynasty Confucius Temple standing here. The temple, destroyed by the Japanese aggressors in the 1940s, has been reconstructed. Imperial examinations were held at the capital every three years during the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644); even when the capital was moved to Beijing in 1421, candidates for high office traveled to Nanjing from nearby provinces. The Examination Hall comprised 20,600 tiny cubicles in which candidates were locked and kept guarded during the three-day examinations. Food was passed in daily to sustain the candidates through the trying ordeal.
A stone bridge and a square tower are all that remain of this huge establishment. Inside the tower are stelae inscribed with the rules of conduct for the examinations and the history of the history of the hall itself.
Plum Blossom Villa 梅园新村
Led by Zhou Enlai (1898-1976) and Dong Biwu (1886-1975), the Communist Party of China Delegation was moved to Meiyuanxincun, close to the center of Nanjing from Chongqing on May 3rd, 1946, and continued the peace talks with the Kuomintang until March 1947. The Communists made their headquarters at No 17, No 30, and No35 Meiyuanxincun. Zhou Enlai and his wife Deng Yingchao (1904-1992) lived at No 30, and the charming house and garden remain just as the couple left them, with jackets hanging from a hat-stand, and a battered leather briefcase on the chest of drawers in the bedroom. A doorway knocked into the eastern garden wall connects No 30 to No 31; this short cut enabled the communists to evade constant surveillance by Kuomintang secret agents posted in the streets outside. At No 17 is a small conference room where Zhou Enlai met the press during negotiations. Upstairs is the secret radio equipment used for communicating directly with Chairman Mao Zedong (1893-1976) in Yan’an, Shaanxi Province. All the furnishings are as they were at that time.
The City Wall in Nanjing 南京城墙
With a circumference of 33.676 kilometers, the city wall of Nanjing built in the period 1366 to 1386 in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty is 12 meters in average height, providing 13,616 crenels and 200 shelters for soldiers. The foundation of the city wall is mostly granite or lime stones. The outer and inner walls are built with bricks and in between the walls broken brick pieces, gravel and loess, compacted layer upon layer. The gaps between bricks were filled with “crevice paste” made of the mixture of lime, knot weed or knot grass (a creeping grass “papsalum distichum” growing in wet places) extract蓼草汁and tung oil (used for the caulking, oiling and vanishing of junks and sampans), and drainage hoes were constructed at intervals. In order to build the city wall of Nanjing, Zhu Yuanzhang mobilized 200,000 craftsmen of 125 counties in five provinces to participate in the construction of the city wall. Each brick was stamped with details of the brick-maker and overseer. The city wall of Nanjing broke the rule of previous generations of building square cities. It was built according to the run of terrain. Being an elliptical city built in line with the terrain, it is 10 kilometers long south-north and 6 kilometers wide east-west. In the Ming Dynasty, Nanjing boasted 13 city fates and today Zhonghuaman Gate (formerly known as Jubaomen Gate) has been preserved fairly well. The gate is of the type of a fortress, having four layers of city walls with enclosures in between. Three enclosures in the walls are 129 meters long south north and 128 meters wide east-west, containing 27 shelters to hold hiding soldiers to a total number of 3,000 men. Such facilities were really rare in the ancient times and are valuable to the research on the military history of ancient times. Other gates have been constructed in the 20th century to facilitate traffic flow in the city.
The Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge 南京长江大桥
The waters of the Yangtze River become tidal in Nanjing. As the city landmark, the bridge provides a vital link between North China and the fertile fields of South China. Construction of the bridge began on January 18, 1960 and completed and put into use on December 29, 1968, lasting 9 years. Before its completion, all traffic had to cross the River by ferry.
At each side of the bridge stand four towers. In one of these is housed the visitors’ briefing room and a fine model of the Yangtze River Bridge. The 1.6-kilometer-long bridge is two-tiered with the top level for vehicles (4.598 meters long and 19.5 meters wide) and the lower one for trains (6,722 meters long, double deck and 14 meters wide). A trip to the railway deck to look along the great grey tunnel of steel is awe-inspiring, especially if a train thunders past. The bridge itself totals 1,577 meters with 10 arch steel beams, spanning 160 meters except the first arch 128 meters in the north of the river. A pair of bridge heads, over 70 meters high, stands on either side.
Totally, 100,000 tons of steel and one million tons of cement were used for the construction of the bridge.
The Second Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge 南京长江二桥
The Second Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, with a 628-meter main span, the second longest cable bridge 斜拉桥in China, was completed seven months ahead of schedule and opened to traffic on March 26, 2001 after three and half years of construction. The 21.2-kilometer-long project actually consists of two bridges (Nancha Bridge and Beicha Bridge南汊桥和北汊桥,) with an expressway across the Bagua 八卦洲Island in the Yangtze River connecting the two. The southernmost of the two bridges, with a span of 628 meters, is the longest in China and the third longest in the world. The bridge was designed by the Construction Designing Institute of the Transportation Department of China, and was built by the Hunan Road and Bridge Corporation. The Baguo Bridge, started in July 1997, is 11 kilometers downstream from the First Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge built in 1968. The 32-meter-wide with six lanes new bridge, with a capacity to take 60,000 vehicles per day, was built to relieve the pressure on the old one. The old bridge was only designed to the 15,000 vehicles per day, 40,000 less than the actual volume in 2000 and more than 20,000 square meters of road surface is now damaged on the bridge as a result. Strong measures have been taken against possible corruption during the bridge’s construction process, which involves a total investment of 3 billion yuan (US $ 362.3 million). Major universities in East China, including the Southeast, Tongji and Zhejiang universities, together with foreign consultation firms, have been invited to play watchdog roles for the project. The half-built bridge was completely undamaged in the flood of 1998. Nanjing’s two economic development zones, located at either end of the new bridge, have benefited most from the new bridge.
Xuanwu Lake 玄武湖
The Xuanwu (the Black Warrior---the guardian spirit of the north in Daoism) Lake encompasses 444 hectares (1,110 acres), of which land occupies 49 hectares (122.5 acres), one ninth of the water in size. The lake is 15 kilometers in circumference. In the lake there are five islets, which are linked by causeways and bridges. A dragon is made from more than 80,000 stoneware bowls, cups, plates and scoops, which were erected on September 12, 2001 beside the Xuanwu Lake in Nanjing. Over 30 local artists helped created the 163-meter-long statue. The dragon is thought to be the world’s largest statue to be built with traditional handicrafts.
Zijinshan (Purple and Gold) Observatory 紫金山天文台
Situated on one peak of Zijinshan, this third largest of China’s observatories was built in 1934. This is a small but fascinating collection on display of magnificent Ming reproductions of early astrological instruments: a celestial globe, an armillary sphere for detecting solar bodies, a gnomon (a sun and seasons dial) and an earthquake detector first made over 2,000 years ago. The last two instruments had had a disturbed history. In 1900, Germans absconded with the earthquake detector (which was then in the Beijing Observatory) but it was returned, along with the other instruments taken as spoils of war in 1919. In the early 1930s the Japanese tried unsuccessfully to remove the gnomon; they even cut the base in half. How greedy the Japanese were!
If you climb onto the platform of one of the observatory domes you will find yourselves above the tree lines, and unfurling below you, a magnificent view of the entire city of Nanjing and the Yangtze River in a fine day.
Amazing Jade Sculpture completed a white-jade Buddhist sculpture, the largest of its kind in China, was completed in the first half of 2000 in Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province. The sculpture, named “Pilgrimage to Buddhist Heaven.” Weighs about 500 kilograms and is 78 centimeters high, 84 centimeters wide and 56 centimeters thick. It took Gu Yongjun, a famous Chinese sculptor and a master craftsman, five years to complete. He worked on it in the city’s Jade Article Factory. The sculpture features 88 carvings of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and arhats. The factory was also responsible for the major jade sculpture “The Boundless Buddhist World” in 1990, which was collected as a national treasure by the China Gallery of Arts and Crafts.
Dr Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum 中山陵
The lofty Mount Zhongsan, also known as Mount Purple (because the rocks on top of the mountain look purplish red in the distance). Crawls like a huge dragon in the northeastern part of Nanjing. It was already a scenic spot in the Six Dynasties (name of the historical period: Wu (222-280) and Eastern Jin (317-420) of the Three Kingdoms, and Song (420-479), Qi (479-502), Liang (502-557) and Chen (557-589) of the Southern Dynasty, all made Jiankang (former name for Nanjing) the capital, hence the name of the Six Dynasties), surrounded by over 70 temples and nunneries and row upon row of tombs. Construction of the mausoleum started in January 1926, and completed in spring 1929. Dr Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum is located at the Southern foot of Mount Xiaomaoshan of Mount Zhongshan. The grave is situated at 158 meters above sea level, the difference of height between the upper and lower levels is 73 meters, the level distance between the memorial archway and the grave is 700 meters and the mausoleum encompasses 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres), of which 2,133 hectares (5,332.5 acres) are covered with all kinds of trees. The main structures include memorial archway, tomb passage, mausoleum gate, tablet pavilion, sacrificial hall, coffin chamber. A flight of 392 steps leads from the ground level to the coffin chamber in which is a gypsum statue of a seated Dr Sun Yat-sen (sculpted in France by a Polish friend, Landowski). Dr Sun’s remains are beneath a recumbent marble statue of him (executed by Japanese associates) in the circular crypt behind the hall. The mausoleum was designed by architect Lu Ynazhi吕彦直 (1894-1929) and the colours are those of the Kuomintang flag. The whole structure resembles a bell of liberty, symbolizing the spirit of continuous struggling of Dr Sun Yat-sen in arousing the people, fighting against oppression and in saving the country and the people.
During those days, Chiang Kai-shek also selected the site of his own tomb, where a pavilion was erected with the name “Righteousness Pavilion” The pavilion was built in April 1947 beside Zixia Lake at the Southern foot of Mount Zhongshan. The pavilion is square in shape, decorated with upturned eaves, its roof covered with blue glazed tiles and its foundation made of granite from Suzhou. Its interior is colourfully painted, appearing spectacular and resplendent. The name of the pavilion “Zheng Qi Ting” (Righteousness Pavilion) inscribed on a horizontal board and the couplet written on columns are both the handwriting of Chiang Kai-shek. The first line of the couplet reads “Noble Spirit Connecting with Tower of Martyrs,” and the second line reads “Purple Clouds Envelops Precious Pearl Peak.” Behind the pavilion stands a granite screen inlaid with the inscription of “On Righteousness Pavilion” written by Sun Ke (1891-1973), son of Dr Sun Yat-sen.
More About Nanjing
- The Modern China Relics Museum
The Modern China Relics Museum The Modern China Relics Museum was officially opened to the public on 2003.
- Linggu Monastery
Linggu Monastery Linggu Monastery or Valley of the Soul Monastery.
- Nanjing Ming Tomb
Nanjing Ming Tomb Construction of the mausoleum started in 1381 and was completed in 1413, taking more than 30 years to finish.
- Nanjing Museum
Nanjing Museum One of the most fascinating exhibits is the large wooden copy of a statue of a man showing all the body’s acupuncture points.
- Nanjing University
Nanjing University Founded in 1902, Nanjing University celebrated its 100th birthday on May 20, 2002.
- Murals in Qixia Mountains
Murals in Qixia Mountains Archaeologists made a significant discovery in Dunhuang research recently in this capital of Jiangsu Province.