Nanjing may not be the country’s capital anymore, but it is certainly a force to be reckoned with
Nanjing may not be the country’s capital anymore, but it is certainly a force to be reckoned with in China and beyond
China‘s capital city during the Republican period from 1911 until the government moved temporarily to Chongqing during World War II, Nanjing is today among the nation’s foremost cities of trade, commerce and tourism. The city is located on the banks of the RiverYangtze – around 200 miles from Shanghai – and is the capital of the prosperous Jiangsu province, as well as a strategic inland port and transportation hub.
As in many large Chinese cites, rapid urbanization and economic growth have been fully embraced, resulting in the transformation of Nanjing’s infrastructure and skyline. Several skyscrapers housing hotels, malls, serviced residences and offices have sprung up in recent years, the most eye-catching being Greenland Tower. At 1,476 feet, the world’s seventh-tallest building soars above the ancient Drum Tower just across the street.
Another recent arrival is the World Trade Centre Nanjing which is in the process of opening in phases. Once fully completed, the complex will be comprised of four landmark towers housing offices, a luxury hotel, serviced residences with sky gardens designed by Antonio Citterio, a retail plaza and the Nanjing World Trade Centre Business Club.
Rapid urbanization and economic growth have been fully embraced, resulting in the transformation of Nanjing’s infrastructure and skyline
For visitors, Nanjing (which means “Southern Capital”) rivals Beijing (“Northern Capital”) for its intriguing spread of ancient tombs, palaces and historic monuments. Unlike its cousin to the north, however, Nanjing has retained and restored its statuesque old city walls, which are a major tourism attraction. To the east of the city, the forested slopes of Zijin Shan (“Purple Gold Mountain”, also known as Mount Zhongshan) shade the ancient Ming Dynasty Tombs, dating from the 15th century, plus the mausoleum of SunYat-sen, known as the Father of Modern China. His impressive former Presidential Palace in the city center now houses the China Modern History Museum.
Nanjing is also renowned as a city of education, and its large student population ensures a lively and varied nightlife. The scenic Nanjing University campus in the heart of the old city was founded in 1902, and is one of China’s most respected educational institutions.
International and domestic arrivals will find Nanjing Lukou International Airport to be functional, but soulless. Like many Chinese airports, it was designed with future capacity growth in mind, rather than added-value services. Flight connections include all major Chinese cities, plus South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Germany.
Domestic business travelers are increasingly turning to the punctual highspeed train network to avoid the frequent flight delays in China. Super-speedy trains from cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou arrive at Nanjing South Railway Station, which claims to be one of the world’s largest stations – and has a greater variety of coffee shops and food outlets than the airport. The station is a short taxi ride from downtown, or a quick hop on Metro Line 1 from the station in the basement.
Befitting its status as China’s former capital, Nanjing is a vast city with a population of more than seven million. Bordered to the west by the mightyYangtze River, Nanjing’s more than 2,500 square miles of urban area are framed to the north, east and south by the rolling hills of the Ningzheng Ridge.
The city is divided into 13 administrative districts. Business visitors tend to stay in the new hotels of downtown Xinjiekou and the adjoining Gulou district, which developed around the ancient Drum Tower and features several new commercial buildings. The fast-developing Hexi District, located between theYangtze and Qinhuai Rivers, is emerging as Nanjing’s new financial and commercial center.
WHAT TO DO Walk the Old City Walls
A sturdy defensive wall and two inner walls were built in the 14th century to protect Nanjing’s imperial palace. The ancient city walls have been carefully restored, and climbing the uneven steps up to Zhongshan Gate – which is a short cab ride southeast of downtown – is a good way to begin a leisurely exploration of the elevated ramparts, which yield excellent views of Nanjing‘s historic buildings, Xuanwu lake and the modern skyline. Open to the public 8:00 AM – 11:00 PM daily.
Clockwise from top left: Nanjing cityscape; Dr Sun Yat-sen mausoleum; Nanjing Railway Station; and an artist’s impression of the upcoming Summer Youth Olympics