Honoring those lost during one of the darkest moments in modern Chinese history, the Memorial Hall of the Nanjing Massacre (Nánjīng Dàtúshā Jìniànguǎn, 南京大屠杀纪念馆) is a sobering reminder of the horrors of war. Also known as the Memorial Hall of the Victims in the Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders, the museum is part memorial and part documentation of the invasion of Nanjing (as well as the rest of China) by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War (after the Japanese attack on..
Situated at the foot of Zijin Shan (Purple Gold Mountain) in the east of Nanjing, the Ming Xiaoling Tomb (Míngxiào Líng, 明孝陵) is the final resting place for Ming Dynasty Emperor Hongwu and Empress Ma. One of China's largest imperial tombs, the 600-year-old site has been named a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Born Zhu Yuanzhang, Emperor Hongwu founded the Ming Dynasty in 1368, at which point he named Nanjing his capital and commissioned the construction of the city walls, the imperial palace, and his future..
A highlight of Nanjing's Zijin Shan, Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum (Zhōngshān Líng, 中山陵) is one of the most interesting monuments in modern China—and, among Chinese tourists, one of the most popular. The blue and white colors of this 1929 structure represent the Nationalist (Kuomintang) colors, which can still be seen in the flag of Taiwan but, aside from this building, are scarcely seen in the People's Republic. It's a clear measure of the deep respect Sun Yat-sen retains for all Chinese, whether overseas, Taiwanese or..
Facing a branch of the Qinhuai River (Qínhuái Hé, 秦淮河), Nanjing's eponymous Confucius Temple (Fūzǐ Miào, 夫子庙) sits amid the restaurants, shops and tourists of Fuzi Miao Pedestrian Street. Originally built in 1034 during the Song Dynasty, when China's homegrown philosophy saw a revival, the current structure—largely rebuilt, though some structures date from the Qing Dynasty—still serves as a temple venerating Confucius. Statues of Confucius and his followers line the central courtyard and..
Once running 35 km (22 mi) around central Nanjing, the ancient Nanjing City Wall (Nánjīng Chéngqiáng, 南京城墙) was one of the longest and oldest city walls in the world. Though only about 25 km (16 mi) of the wall's original length remains, the barrier is still an impressive sight, looming an average of 12 m (40 ft) in height. Disconnected lengths of the wall lie scattered about the city, including, at the south end of the wall, the massive fortress-like Zhonghua Gate, the most impressive of the wall's..
Both a scenic spot and a memorial, the Rain Flower Terrace (Yǔhuā Tái, 雨花台) sees visitors for its wooded hilltop green beauty and political significance as a memorial to Nanjing's martyrs. When China was torn by warring kingdoms during the Six Dynasties Period, Buddhist monk Yun Guang read scriptures on the hill in the name of peace. The eloquence of his reading was said to have moved Heaven, causing a rain of flowers which became colorful stones. The area has long been known for its colorful agate stones (yǔhuā shí, 雨花石)...
Xuanwu Lake (Xuánwǔ Hú, 玄武湖) is dotted by causeway-linked garden isles and surrounded by a large park next to Zijin Shan in the northern part of Nanjing. When the weather is agreeable, Xuanwu Lake Park (Xuánwǔ Hú Gōngyuán, 玄武湖公园) comes alive with residents walking the lakeside paths, boating or exercising. Little vendors, teashops and refreshment stands abound around the lake. A great place for kids, the park houses playgrounds and a small zoo in addition to the paddle boats. Xuanwu's diverse gardens and..
Mochou Lake Park (Mòchóu Hú Gōngyuán, 莫愁湖公园) is a green break from the city, consisting of pathways and gardens surrounding Mochou Lake. This is a place to get away from the city traffic and is also en route to the Nanjing Massacre Museum. Chinese legend tells of a girl named Mochou renowned for her beauty who was forced to married a rich man in order to pay for her father's burial. Between a dead father and an unhappy union, Mochou decided things just weren't working out, so she drowned herself in Mochou Lake. In..
Sitting atop a hill on Nanjing's northeastern side near Xuanwu Lake, the halls of Jiming Temple (Jīmíng Sì, 鸡鸣寺) resonate with the chants and prayers of Buddhist nuns and faithful locals. An active monastery, a number of buildings like the nun's quarters aren't meant for tourists. The temple's main hall, the Jeweled Hall of the Vairocana (Pílú Bǎodiàn, 毗卢宝殿), for example, is only open to nuns or those invited in—though the interior is quite visible through plentiful windows and windowed..
The Presidential Palace (Zǒngtǒng Fǔ, 总统府) has a very long, rather complex history of changing hands and providing the stage for some landmark events. Once the site of the Ming Dynasty Palace of Prince Han, the palace was also used as government offices during the Qing Dynasty. When the Taiping Rebellion rolled into the city, making it their capital, their deified leader set up shop in the palace and had the structure enlarged. When Qing troops took the city, the palace was among the casualties. Following the establishment of the..