Shanghai set out to take over from Hong Kong and I think it’s done that. It’s got the most amazing futuristic skyline which rivals and even betters Tokyo.
Shanghai with a population of more than 23 million (with over 9 million migrants), is the largest and traditionally the most developed metropolis in Mainland China.
Shanghai city was the largest and most prosperous city in the Far East during the 1930s. In the past 20 years, it has again become an attractive city for tourists from all over the world. The world once again had its eyes on the city when it hosted the 2010 World Expo.
History of Shanghai
- Shanghai, which literally means the “City on the Sea,” lies on the Yangzi River delta at the point where China’s main waterway completes its 5,500-km (3,400-mi) journey to the Pacific. Until 1842 Shanghai’s location made it merely a small fishing village. After the first Opium War, however, the British named Shanghai a treaty port, opening the city to foreign involvement.
- In the 19th century, foreigners in Shanghai city were lived in three settlements. From 1845 there was a British settlement, after 1848 an American settlement and after 1849 a French settlement. In 1863 British and American settlement later joined and formed the International Settlement but the French concession remained separate.
- In the early 20th century many notable buildings were erected in Shanghai. In the 1930s many Jews arrived in Shanghai fleeing persecution but in 1941 the Japanese forced them into ghettoes. In 1943 they rounded up other foreigners in Shanghai and marched them off to prison camps. However in 1943 Britain and the USA signed a treaty returning their settlements in Shanghai to Chinese rule.
- Today Shanghai has once again become one of China’s most open cities ideologically, socially, culturally, and economically, striving to return to the internationalism that defined it before the Revolution.
Top Destinations in Shanghai
The Bund is Shanghai’s stately street of old colonial-era buildings and the first port of call for many visitors. Shanghai’s Old Town is located next to the southern part of the Bund. Strolling along The Bund is one of the things you should never miss when on a tour to Shanghai. The Bund displays Shanghai’s classic skyline views of colonial architecture and skyscrapers along the 500m wide Huangpu River, which dissects the city into two.
Located on the People’s Square near Nanjing Road, the “glassy” Shanghai Museum has a large collection of rare cultural relics — over 120,000 pieces. An example of artifacts includes over 400 beautifully decorated bronzes. The Ancient Bronze exhibit is particularly impressive. Audio guides also available.
Not far from the Bund, Yuyuan is the most revered and the only surviving Ming Dynasty garden in Shanghai. It has become a city highlight due to its beautiful scenery, characterized by decorated bridges, colorful pagodas and intimate enclaves separated by “dragon walls” — partitions with dragon decorations on top.
Xintiandi is an interesting spot in the city to check out though it is more of a hangout/party place that wakes up in the evening hours. It’s a car-free shopping, eating, entertainment district that is a gentrified area where traditional “shikumen” houses occupy the narrow alleyways. This area is definitely prominent for foreigners and mostly ex-pats.
People’s square is located in the center of Shanghai, covers 140,000 square meters, surrounded by the municipal government office building, the Shanghai Museum, Shanghai City Planning Exhibition Hall, and the Grand Theatre. There are a huge green area and trees, encircled by all kinds of buildings on all sides.
Tianzifang is an artsy area that has developed from a renovated residential area (old Shanghai shikumen buildings) in the former French Concession area of Shanghai. Now it houses bars, cafes, crafts shops, design studios, galleries, and boutiques.