Updated: 2012-06-15 08:48
Above: A significant seaport and financial center in Northeast Asia, Dalian has peaceful coastal views. Below: On Russian Street, remnants of Dalian's past as a Russian treaty port have been renovated. Photos provided to China Daily
Historic coastal city serves up feast for the senses
When Dalian Greenland Center, a skyscraper being built in Dalian, Liaoning province, is completed in 2016, it will become the tallest building in Northeast China and the fourth tallest in the world.
The 518-meter structure will accommodate a Ritz-Carlton hotel, offices of Fortune 500 companies and a luxury shopping mall.
In the city's Zhongshan district, a central business area, another landmark, Dalian World Trade Center, also attracted attention worldwide when international business elites gathered in the city for the Summer Davos Forum last year.
Compared with ancient Chinese capital cities such as Beijing, Nanjing and Xi'an, Dalian is a young city with a history of 110 years. Heavily influenced by Russia and later occupied by Japan, Dalian was a significant seaport providing shipping services. Situated at the tip of Liaodong Peninsular, it is now an important trading and financial center in Northeast Asia.
Here are a few initial offerings to experience this dynamic coastal city that is also known as the "Hong Kong of northern China".
Dalian Natural History Museum
Established in 1907 with an old museum and moved to the Heishijiao seashore in 1995, the Dalian Natural History Museum is considered the largest museum of natural history in China, with exhibits including rare stones, fossils, animals and plants. Located in a modern European building, it occupies an area of 15,000 square meters.
Much of the exhibited species come from the Jehol Biota - the ecosystem of northeastern China that existed some 120 million years ago. Those interested in prehistoric animals can also visit the hall of the dinosaurs to trace the lives of the animals.
This street is one of the best places to get a taste of Dalian's modern history.
It was constructed more than a century ago when Dalian was being built. Remnants of the city's past as a Russian treaty port have been renovated to give visitors an idea of what it was like back then. The street consists of duty-free shops, supermarkets, antique stores and painting shops.
The street is also packed with Russian, American, Italian, French and Portuguese restaurants. Tourists can explore this street on foot or in carriages.
This is one of the most popular public squares in the country. It was once known as Stalin Square, built to commemorate the Red Army of the former Soviet Union's liberation of northeastern China from Japanese invaders.
The space has become a pleasant spot for residents and visitors. The square consists of four lawns, each measuring about 10,000 square meters. There is a "Dancing Water" fountain display that never fails to delight audiences in the evening.
This is also a good venue for taking in the impressive development of the city - through the expansive government and residential buildings, including houses designed in the Russo-European style.
This island is located about 9 kilometers from downtown Dalian, at the eastern part of Binhai Road. It is named for being shaped like a bangchui, a stick commonly used by the local women to wash their clothes.
Bangchui boasts beautiful beaches and natural open spaces where visitors can spend a few relaxing hours.
Wining and dining
Dalian is famous for its seafood. Bountiful marine products such as fish, prawns, crabs, shellfish, sea cucumbers and abalone are kings of the city's dining scene.
As for the ever-popular and affordable street food, two local snacks dominate:
Dalian Menzi is a must-have culinary experience in the city. The dish mainly consists of a unique cool bean jelly made of sweet potato boiled for a long-time.
Salted fish served with a crispy corn pancake originally made by fishermen - who could not return home in time for lunch and had to salt their fish to make them last longer - is also popular.
The China Dalian International Wine and Dine Festival will take place on Xinghai Square Centenary Monument in Dalian from July 12 to July 15. Visitors can join in the wine tasting and take part in culinary events.
(China Daily 06/15/2012 page22)