A Her­itage City

That's China - - The Garden On The Sea -

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.

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