Whether you're intrigued by paint and ceramic or brick and mortar, discover the art and architecture of China from the ancient to the contemporary.
Replicas of Qing Dynasty mansions line Jinli Old Street (Jǐnlǐ Gǔjiē, 锦里古街) selling local souvenirs as well as tea, books, musical instruments and caricatures. While several large restaurants can be found here, the real charm lies in the small snack alley between Wuhou Temple and Jinli. Here the overpowering odor of stinky tofu is softened by sweet caramel, spicy beef, rice cakes, noodles and sesame buns—made to order amidst the din of hawkers and touts shouting their products. Locals fill the street nightly—especially on..
Perched up on high in the Cang Shan mountain range, Zhonghe Temple (Zhōnghé Sì, 中和寺) is a modest temple with a panoramic view of Er Hai lake and the lowlands around it. A common stop for those hiking up Cang Shan, Zhonghe Temple is a good place to stop and get your bearings, plus there's a restaurant nearby to fuel up. It's also possible to stay the night in the temple. Yunnan guide | Dali guide | Dali attractions | Dali flights Dali hotels | Dali tours & activities | Dali on the China Travel Blog
Though no longer China's tallest building (having been eclipsed by the neighboring World Financial Center), the Jin Mao Tower (Jīn Mào Dàshà, 金茂大厦) remains Shanghai's most elegant and distinctive skyscraper. It also still proudly houses the world's highest hotel, post office and bar. Situated in the heart of the Lujiazui financial district, the Jin Mao's design is based on the lucky number eight: 88 floors soar upward, divided into 16 segments, each 1/8 smaller than the preceding one. Architecturally a..
The Temple of Heaven (Tiāntán, 天坛), completed in 1420 during the reign of the Ming Emperor Yongle, was the most sacred space in which the emperor—also known as the Son of Heaven—performed the most important sacrifices and rites. The gods of earth, water, war, and civilian affairs were all honored, but it was the god of agriculture who received special attention. On the winter solstice, the emperor, after ritual fasts and purification, would beseech Heaven for bountiful harvests. The temple's layout reflects the..
The Old Summer Palace, known in Chinese as the "Gardens of Perfect Clarity" (Yuánmíng Yuán, 圆明园), served as a retreat for the imperial Qing court before it was looted and leveled in 1860 during the second Opium War by British and French troops under the command of James Bruce, the Earl of Elgin, in retaliation for the torture and killing of troops sent to negotiate with the Qing government. Today it is a haunting but melancholy place, with the ruins only hinting at what was once a resplendent complex of fountains,..
A large and colorful archway greets you at the entrance of Tianjin's Ancient Culture Street (Gǔwénhuà Jiē, 古文化街). Like its counterpart in Beijing, the famous Liulichang (Liúlíchǎng,琉璃厂), the street is an attempt to recreate a traditional Chinese neighborhood in the middle of a modern urban landscape. Though almost everything a fabrication of "old China," it's not hard to appreciate the careful inclusion of authentic-enough details, including carved and brightly colored columns, curved balconies and stylized..
The Xiling Seal Society (Xīlíng Yìnshè, 西泠印社) is a charming institution dedicated to the study, preservation and creation of classical Chinese inscriptions, printmaking and painting. Located in West Lake on Solitary Hill island just opposite Zhongshan Park (Zhōngshān Gōngyuán, 中山公园), the Society boasts a history of over 1,900 years. On a rising slope, the Xilin Seal Society grounds are covered in beautiful gardens, rockeries, and sculpture and provide a great place to explore or just relax. The Society has..
Any trip to Lhasa will warrant a few visits to Barkhor (Bākuò Jiē, 八廓街; "Barkhor Street")—the religious heart and market center of the capital surrounding Jokhang Temple. The plaza itself was created and paved not too long ago by the Chinese, but its been an important site for Tibetans for far longer, with the circuit around the temple going back to the 7th century. In recent decades, the square has been a popular place for protests and demonstrations (though these are becoming rare and small due to strict surveillance), so..
The Dragon Gate (Lóngmén, 龙门) actually refers to a collection of grottoes and sculptures in the stone corridor of Western Hills Park. A series of narrow caves, just wide enough for two thin people in some places, exposes a plethora of ancient inscriptions, drawings and figures. The nooks and crannies inside these caves have incense burners, vases and other historic relics paying homage to the artists of the cave and the rest of the Northern Wei Dynasty of the 5th century.
Ningbo-born Ni Tianzeng (1937-1992) joined the Communist Party and came to Shanghai after graduating from Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Ni built a reputation for himself as a tireless, upstanding politician during his time working first in positions related to his studies in architecture and later as the vice mayor. The Ni Family Residence (Ní Zhái, 倪宅) in Xitang, named Chéngqìng Táng (承庆堂) by the family, is both an example of a traditional Jiangnan (“south of the Yangtze River”)..
Standing in the middle of Tian'anmen Square (Tiān'ānmén Guǎngchǎng, 天安门广场), one is confronted with overwhelming representations of China's past and present powers-that-be, cast in an immense space that dramatizes China's modern history in spectacular fashion. Standing on ground where the Emperor's high officials once did business in classical courtyards and halls, one now finds the world's largest public square, with Mao's Mausoleum, the Great Hall of the People and the Monument to the People's Heroes..
Located next to the Drum Tower, the massive stone Beijing Bell Tower (Běijīng Zhōnglóu, 北京钟楼) dates back to 1745, though the original wooden tower was completed in 1272 under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. A grand stone structure the Bell Tower features China's largest and heaviest bell (7 m tall, it weighs 63 tons), which is rung by a large wooden beam suspended from the ceiling. If you're lucky, you'll be allowed a few rings of the deeply resonant bell, a charming accompaniment to the excellent views of the city and the..