Updated: 2012-06-22 15:52
Top: Qibao ancient town is crossed by two water lanes. Above: Sinan mansion dates back to the early 1920s and has been a hub of high society since. Photos provided to China Daily
The Paris of the East continues to fascinate those at home and abroad
Shanghai's mix of East and West has been attracting people the world over for centuries. The most cosmopolitan and international of all Chinese cities is now the country's financial center.
But here, you will also find well-preserved enclaves of times past below the backdrop of modern streets and skyscrapers. Many roads hark back to the colorful 1920s and 1930s of Western-style houses, making the Paris of the East a historic city in its own right.
Last month, we introduced a few must-see places for any short stay in Shanghai such as the iconic Bund, Tianzifang and Jing'an Temple. Here are a few more attractions in the area to help complete the list.
This ancient water town boasts original streets of the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
About 48 kilometers from downtown Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is often held up as one of the typical scenes of ancient China. It is more like a town that "lives" on water: there are 36 ancient stone bridges across the town, connecting nine streets and thousands of buildings built in the style of the Ming and Qing.
Special native products include rose-flavored fermented bean curd, fried gluten, dark-rice and pork zongzi dumplings, meat wrapped in leaves, roast soybeans, wood carving knitware, stone carvings and roast soy beans. In autumn people can also enjoy freshwater crabs from Dianshan Lake.
2. Sinan Mansion
This mansion in the former French Concession dates back to the early 1920s and has been a hub of high society since. It is the largest architectural complex in the center of Shanghai.
The area is bounded by Rue Lafayette (now Fuxing Road) in the north, Rue Massenet (Sinan Road) in the west and Avenue Dubail (South Chongqing Road) in the east. Many celebrities in the 1930s lived here, including opera star Mei Lanfang.
Most of the old buildings have been restored in the past 12 years and continue to draw luminaries from home and abroad.
3. 1933 Art Space
For Shanghai residents and visitors, this space represents the memories of a colorful past as well as a contemporary gathering space for fashionistas and performances.
The art space used to be the largest slaughterhouse in Asia in the early 1920s and was famous for its inspiring designs and architecture.
It has since been refurbished into one of the most charming sights in Shanghai. 1933 holds many art festivals, stage performances and activities. It is also the venue of choice for many newlyweds to take their wedding photos.
4. Qibao ancient town
Qibao is one of the oldest towns in Shanghai, dating back to the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (AD 907-960).
The town is crossed by two water lanes and around these stand a large number of well-preserved traditional houses, gardens, temples, shops and restaurants.
In Chinese, Qibao means "seven treasures". Legend has it that seven treasures were hidden in the town.
The town includes attractions including an old street selling tasty snacks, arts and crafts, a Cricket Hall, the Tianxiang Restaurant, Qibao Theater and Qibao temple.
Wining and dining
Besides the famous xiaolongbao meat dumplings and red-braised pork, Shanghai cuisine is also famous for its desserts. One of these is xiekehuang. The name literally means yellow crab shell because the dish is a fried flour cake shaped like a boiled crab shell. It was popular in old Shanghai's teahouses.
Those looking for a drink should go to Hengshan Road, the oldest and the biggest bar street in Shanghai. This quiet and relaxed spot is very popular among foreigners.
Located in the former French Concession, Hengshan Road has bars, teahouses, hotels, restaurants, galleries and exquisite gifts stores.
(China Daily 06/22/2012 page22)