China’s must-sees: Nanjing

Nanjing contains many attractions worth your time, such as the Confucius Temple, as displayed here

Considering travelling to China? Nanjing, the capital city of the Jiangsu Province, is a must-see. Today, I’ll be giving you a quick introduction to this exciting destination, including offering a few tips on its most popular attractions.

Nanjing – an overview

Perched on the south bank of the Yangtze, Nanjing is a bustling, modern city with bags of culture – much of which harks back to centuries ago. So, it’s got a nice mix of old and new, allowing you to soak up a little Chinese culture past and present.

In fact, one of the things that appeals to me most is the city’s rich heritage – especially the fact that it’s actually been the country’s official capital not once, but twice. Plus, it’s packed with everything from interesting museums to beautiful gardens, which means there’s plenty of variety.

Thanks in no small part, I’m sure, to the fact that the city has a sizeable student population, the nightlife here is particularly vibrant. Plus, in amongst the fascinating historical sites you’ll find things like large, ultra-modern shopping malls, meaning this really is a great destination for a holiday in China if you’re keen to have a wide choice when it comes to what to do.

And speaking of what you can do, let’s move on to some of Nanjing’s highlights.

Nanjing Museum

There’s so much amazing history to uncover in Nanjing and, indeed, China as a whole, that it really is well worth stopping by a few museums to learn more. Nanjing Museum is one of the best in the city, with displays featuring artefacts from as far back as Neolithic times, and right up to the communist period under Mao.

There are thousands of amazing things to see here, including beautiful porcelains from the Qing dynasty, archaeological artefacts, fine calligraphy, paintings, embroidery and bronze items. Plus, there are also some great displays on Chinese history.

Zhanyuan Garden

For a complete change of scenery, head over to the Zhanyuan Garden on the banks of the Qinhuai River. This beautiful place is not only one of southern China’s most famous gardens, but it’s also the city’s best-preserved architectural complex of the Ming Dynasty. It might strike you as odd that a garden should be described as an ‘architectural complex’, but the reason is that there are several wonderful buildings here too, including one that houses an excellent museum.

Focusing on the green, scenic attractions though, the western section of the garden is absolutely lovely. Here, you’ll be able to stroll along winding paths past clear pools, rockeries, crab-apple trees and more. The South Rockery is a particular treat, being blanketed by colourful flowers and trees.

Confucius Temple

Rounding off my list is Confucius Temple, which was first constructed in Nanjing back in 1034 – dedicated, of course, to the great thinker Confucius. Sitting on the edge of the Qinhuai River, this temple is one of the city’s top attractions, though it’s also seen a fair amount of damage during its long history.

In fact, it’s actually been rebuilt a number of times, most recently in the 1980s, when it was expanded significantly with the addition of buildings like the Xue Gong (Imperial Academy). When it was rebuilt, though, it was done in the style if the Ming and Qing dynasties, so you still get a sense of the past by coming here.

As a quick tip, you might hear this temple referred to as Fuzimiao (its Chinese name) from time to time – something worth bearing in mind to avoid confusion!