A Heritage City
China’s only “ancient city of maritime heritage”, Dinghai hosts a good number of significant cultural sites and monuments, many of which are related to the Opium War. The enchanting marine vista of Dinghai once impressed a British envoy so much that he spread the word that “the city was similar to Venice” when back in his own country.
Dinghai also constitutes an important chapter in the lesserknown history of the Ming-Qing contention. It is the burial site of the unidentified remains of anti-Qing resistant fighters and civilians, and the place where a Southern Ming queen leapt to her death as the fall of the Ming was imminent.
Other magnificent cultural sites include the Zuyin Temple, a Zen Buddhist place of worship and meditation with a lineage dating back to 940, and the Sanmao Memorial Museum, dedicated to a popular Taiwanese author of Mainlander origin.
A combination of Chinese and western architectural elements also adds radiance to the charming character of Dinghai. The period from the 1920s to the 1930s saw many Dinghai businessmen return home from Shanghai rolling in wealth. The result of the homereturning was a new fad of building lavish mansions. In 1933, the villa of plasterer-turned-millionaire Pan Shanglin joined the city’s elite real estate scene. The high construction quality of the two-storey house of exotic beauty, set against vast riverside greenery, has no rival worth mentioning.