Jiangxi's capital, Nanchang, is famed among Chinese for being the birthplace of the People's Liberation Army. Indeed, it was in Nanchang in 1927 that revolutionary heroes Zhou Enlai and Zhu De led 30,000 troops in mutiny against the Kuomintang; today, the date of the uprising, August 1, is celebrated throughout China, and Nanchang remains a site of pilgrimage for patriotic Chinese.
Even if revolutionary history isn't your cup of tea, Nanchang has plenty to offer. However, it may be more for what you'll find in the surrounding countryside than in the city itself. Thanks to its excellent air, rail and road connections, Nanchang make the perfect base for exploring northern Jiangxi, from bucolic Wuyuan to the ancient porcelain center of Jingdezhen to the cool mountain retreat of Lushan. All are within easy reach, and day trips from Nanchang to nearby destinations like the ancient villages of Jingtai, Luotiancun and Shuinan or the shores of placid Poyang Hu (Poyang Lake) are a breeze.
As for Nanchang proper, once you get past its and Soviet-inspired post-war industrial homeliness, there are plenty of Nanchang attractions worth the visit. The rebuilt Tengwan Ge (Jumping King Pavilion) dates back to the Tang Dynasty; today, it's a pleasant spot for a stroll, relaxing in a teahouse and, on weekends, a chance to catch traditional music, dance and theater. Tengwan Ge goes well with a tour of the nearby Jiangxi Provincial Museum, a distinctive work of green-glass contemporary Chinese architecture housing relics going back to prehistoric times.
Another sight with an ancient pedigree is Youmin Temple but, thanks to the widespread wartime destruction of Nanchang, the remainder of popular attractions are dominated by post-war monuments, including the Monument to the Martyrs on People's Square and the massive Stalinesque Exhibition Hall across the street. The Memorial Hall to the Martyrs of the Revolution and Former Headquarters of the Nanchang Uprising provide further insight into both Nanchang's revolutionary past; the latter is also one of the city's few remaining examples of early 20th century European-influenced architecture.
Beyond major attractions, Nanchang's streets, restaurants and markets are as lively as any in China and, despite its share of post-war industrial blight and boom-time gaudiness, many a charming neighborhood street awaits those with the patience, time and walking shoes.