(Pronounced NUN-JING…formerly called NANKING)
Nanjing means “Southern Capital” and is the capital of Jiangsu Province. Located on the banks of the Yangzi River, it is an attractive city with wide, tree-lined boulevards. The city has been inhabited since about 4000 B.C. In 1912 Nanjing became capital of the Republic, but 3 months later the capital was moved to Beijing.
CHANG JIANG BRIDGE: This bridge over the Yangzi River is the pride and joy of the Chinese. It was in the “talking” stages during China’s friendly years with Russia. But when that friendship faded, the Russians pulled out and said the “bridge was impossible to build.” But the Chinese did build it entirely without help, and it’s a superb feat of engineering. It’s 22,100 feet long, is double-decked with vehicles on the upper and trains on the lower. Nine huge bases, imbedded into the rock beneath the river support the spans of the bridge. From the terrace of one tower there are fine views of the river. PLEASE TAKE NOTE: It can take from 2 to 3 hours to get to this bridge, depending on the traffic…and 2 to 3 hours to get back. That’s at least half of one day. Unless you’re really into engineering, you will not be impressed. If you can get out of the trip without insulting your Chinese guide, DO SO. You can spend that extra time for personal activities or walking around town. YOU WILL NOT MISS SEEING THE BRIDGE.
THE GATES OF NANJING: Many of the gates of the city wall surrounding Nanjing still survive, along with sections of the wall. The last wall was built during the 14th century, and the bricks were made with great precision and engraved with the name of the master brick maker. Stop at one section of the remaining city wall…interesting and a good place to view Nanjing.
XUAN WU LAKE: This large park is in the north of the city with five islets connected by causeways. The lake is filled with lotus blossoms and in summer converted to swimming areas…as well as a place to go boating on amusing foot-pedaled boats, which look like ducks, pandas, etc.
NANJING ZOO: This is a small zoo located near the Xuan Wu Lake. If you get the chance, do visit it just to see the giant panda, in case you don’t get to see pandas anywhere else. The zoo is poorly kept, and the animals are dirty.
JIANGSU MUSEUM: The museum is located in a fairly modern building, but is poorly maintained. The displays go back to 5000 B.C…pottery, bronzes, scroll paintings and a famous and exquisite “burial suit” made of jade tiles, and held together by silver wires. This museum has now been updated.
DRUM TOWER and BELL TOWER: This tower was built during the Ming Dynasty. If you are able to visit it, there are good views of the city.
OLD CHINA TOWN: You would swear that you were in Chinatown of San Francisco. It’s not old, at all, and seems designed for tourists.
THE SACRED WAY: This is the royal pathway, which was traditional in the Ming Dynasty. After crossing a small bridge you come to the avenue of giant stone animals on either side of the road. They are in pairs, alternately standing and lying…elephants, camels, dragon-like creatures, etc. and finally figures of the military. Then you pass through a gate and follow the path until it turns into the traditional access route toward the tomb of the emperor.
THE MING TOMB: This is the tomb of the emperor who founded the Ming Dynasty who died in 1398. He’s buried inside beside the empress who died 16 years before him. To reach the tomb, one must first travel down THE SACRED WAY, pass through a gate and enter the first courtyard. Then there is a second courtyard with the remains of a hall. On the terrace of this hall is a pavilion leading to the third and final courtyard. Cross a bridge spanning a canal and follow the path to a large stone building. The building contains a wide door, which leads upward to a terrace. Here stands the mound of the emperor. The tomb remains unexcavated. Most of what one sees here is in ruins.
MAUSOLEUM OF SUN YATSEN: Located on the slopes of the Purple and Gold Mts., this spot was selected by Dr. Sun Yatsen before his death. This mausoleum is the main tourist attraction of Nanjing. To reach the mausoleum, one must be in pretty good physical condition, because there are numerous steps and steep inclines. One enters through a gateway with three arches. Inside is an avenue of trees leading to the three-arched main gate. This gate leads to a pavilion with a blue glazed roof, which houses a huge granite stele. From here one climbs eight sections of stairs (392 steps) leading to the mausoleum. Inside, in the first chamber is a marble statue of Sun Yatsen sitting down. Around the walls engraved in gold letters are quotations from “the founder of modern China.” Behind the statue, one enters the second chamber…a circular domed hall, which overlooks the recumbent marble figure of the first President on his tomb. As you walk around the circular room, a speaker softly echoes with the spoken words of Sun Yatsen. YOU CANNOT TAKE ANY BAGS OR PURSES INTO THE MAUSOLEUM. If you have a guide he or she will stay outside and guard the items for you. On the way down from the mausoleum, notice the fine views of the surrounding hills from the various terraces. (You were probably too tired on the way up to notice).
SUMMER PALACE OF MADAM CHANG-KICHEK: This might be a curious part of your tour of China. There’s no discussion about Madam… one simply enters the building and is served a cold drink, and casually told it’s possible to visit her bedroom, sitting room, and bath upstairs. The lack of maintenance here is shameful. All rooms are filthy and everything is coated with layers of dust.