Exploring the city from its dinner tables
The mausoleum of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperor Zhu Yuanzhang sits at Zijin Mountain’s base.
It’s one of the country’s largest imperial burial sites and marks a zenith of Ming architecture and stone-carving. The symmetrical sprawl of pavilions, archways and rock inscriptions was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
The 70,000-square-meter institution just south of Zijin Mountain claims to be the third largest of its kind in the country. It presents over 400,000 displays from Paleolithic artifacts to contemporary items. Exhibits include items crafted from stone, earth, jade and bronze, plus paintings, calligraphy, embroidery and bamboo carvings.
The government compound was for six centuries a place where prominent policies were decided and major military events unfolded, such as those relating to the 1840 Opium War and the 1949 liberation of Nanjing. Such heritage is now housed on gorgeous grounds, making this seat of historic drama a destination for leisurely strolls.
The city’s main bar street is lined by 17 buildings bearing architectural elements from the Republic of China period (1912-49) nestled among four modern plazas.
This picturesque park was a royal garden for several dynasties from the third to sixth centuries. Today, it’s a favorite for joggers. It claims to be the only park of its kind south of the Yangtze River.
The 20-meter-high walls that wrap roughly 250 meters around a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) city built upon the ruins of an Eastern Jin Dynasty (317420) palace continue to offer stunning views. Visitors pray for blessings while facing the Jiming Temple.
The Yangtze River massages three sides of Lion (Shizi) Mountain’s foot, while a Ming-era city wall snuggles into the other side.
Pavilions, cannon and temples are perched atop the 14-hectare peak, which also hosts a forest of stone steles.
The Niushou Mountain Resort lures Buddhist pilgrims and scenery seekers. Massive religious statues stand in a setting that looks like a landscape painting.
Patriotism takes a prominent place in Yuhuatai, where 1.5 square kilometers are covered with structures commemorating martyrs.
The terrain also produces yuhuashi, or “rain-flower stone”, gemstones, which are reportedly only found in Nanjing, and yuhua tea — a different kind of treasure.
Legend says the gods showered the beautiful pebbles upon the area because they were moved by the devotion of an ancient monk, who preached there for three days without eating or drinking. Gastronomy says the tea leaves are among the world’s best.
Dabaoen’s 80-meter-high Porcelain Tower was baiju, inscribed on many versions of the Seven Wonders of the Middle Ages list but didn’t survive to later ages.
However, many of the surrounding structures did.
The compound was built on the foundations of the destroyed Jianchu Temple in 1412 and claims to be the most ancient religious site of its kind.
It’s also huge. Dabaoen Temple contains over 30 cabins and about 150 monasteries.
Boats, garden culture and folk customs energize the Qinhuai River. It hosts a Confucian temple, night market and lantern fair. It’s a perfect place to enjoy Nanjing’s go-with-the-flow momentum.
Contact the writer at yangfeiyue@ chinadaily.com.cn
Nanjing’s cuisine is informed by its opportune geography — especially its proximity to the Yangtze.
Its clement climate and location in the massive river’s reaches sheathes it with rich earth that nurtures a cornucopia of foodstuffs.
Locals venerate freshness and knife work.
Flavor balances and crispyet-tender textures are ensured by the prominence of stewing, simmering and roasting as favored cooking methods.
Many dishes, likes reeves shad, hail back six centuries.
Its duck dates to 1,400 years ago.
Nanjing’s ducks’ diets are largely cereals, which are said to make their flesh tender.
And because of the region’s largely aquatic terrain, the waterfowl serves as a staple. It’s roasted, dried and salted, and brinesoaked. Its blood is made into a soup that’s a culinary calling card of the city.
Chopped, brine-soaked duck is another iconic delicacy made from birds simmered and hung to dry for three days. Bones slip off the flesh, making the skeleton less an obstacle than one may expect.
A panoramic view of Niushou Mountain; Foding Palace on Niushou Mountain; performers of Nanjing a kind of traditional local narrative singing with a history of more than 700 years; Taicheng, the 20-meter-high walls built in the Ming Dynasty; Presidential Palace with a statue of Sun Yat-sen.
Other favored meats include beef, chicken and pork. Crab roe and shrimp feature heavily in aquaculture.
Another signature dish is pan-fried beef dumplings packed with minced meat, spring onions and ginger.
They’re fried on one side and then boiled until the water evaporates, producing a tender top and crispy base.
Some upscale restaurants have made a point of serving set courses in specific orders to ensure that customers get a full taste of local gastronomy.
That said, the cuisine has recently absorbed elements from other places, while its reach simultaneously radiates further across the country and world.
The Thousand-Buddha Hall is among the temples on Niushou Mountain, a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists.
Clockwise from top:
Pan-fried beef dumplings, one of the signature dishes of Nanjing.