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China Information >> Travel
 
Historical Cities

Datong

Yungang Grottoes

Datong, situated in the far north of Shanxi Province, covers a total area of 14,112.56 square kilometers, and averages at 700 to 1,400 meters in altitude. The city has a population of 2.848 million, about 60% of which is in rural areas. Datong has ethnic minority groups like Mongolian, Manchu, Tibetan, Hui, Miao, Korean, etc., and the Han people make up 99.6%.

Datong, with a long history and located at a strategic place, was once a capital of the country in ancient times, the capital city of two non-Han Chinese dynasties and a town of military importance in four dynasties. Datong enjoys convenient transportation and communications, and boasts rich mineral resources and solid industrial foundation. It is now an energy and heavy chemical base in China, and is especially famous for coal production, which wins it the name of the capital of coal.

The finest of the city#s marvelous natural sites is a magnificent series of Yungang Grottoes built in the Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534), just west of the city. Yungang Grottoes, Dunhuang Mogao Grottoes and Luoyang Grottoes are called China#s three major grottoes, which are of very high artistic value.

The most beautiful landscape in Datong is Hengshan, one of the five holy mountains of Taoism. At the foot of Hengshan Mountain, there is the almost unbelievable Midair Temple, which lies against cliffs and stays high up in the air, and is acclaimed as the peak of perfection.

Nanjing

 

Qinhuaihe river

Nanjing, an ancient metropolis of six different dynasties, is a city of mountains, waters and green trees. Called Ning for short and Jinling in ancient times, Nanjing is the capital of Jiangsu Province, situated in the western part. It is a central city in western part of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River Delta and has beautiful sceneries. With a downtown area of 860 square kilometers and a population of more than 3 million people, Nanjing spans the southern and northern sides of the Yangtze River.

Nanjing took shape at the confluence of the Yangtze and Qinhuaihe rivers. Goujian, King of Yue State, had a city built by the Qinhuaihe and named it Yuecheng 2,500 years ago. Later the Chu State had a city called Jinling erected at the foot of Qingliangshan Hill. Yuecheng and Jinling were the embryonic forms of Nanjing. Later, it successively became the capital of the Eastern Wu State during the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), and the states of Song, Qi, Liang and Chen during the Southern Dynasty (420-589). In addition, the Southern Tang and Ming dynasties, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, and even the Kuomingdang kaiserdom all set their capitals here.

The Six Dynasties (from the beginning of the 3rd century to the end of the 6th century) were the prime period of Nanjing. After the downfall of Western Jin, North China was controlled by chieftains of some nomads. Many aristocrats, men of letters, craftsmen thronged to the south, promoting the development of culture, economy, and crafts and technology. And Nanjing, the biggest city of the time, became a new cultural center in ancient China.

The modern new Nanjing is not only the political, economic and cultural center in Jiangsu Province, but also the most important transportation and communications hub in East China. Besides, it is an international commercial center of the Yangtze River Delta, next to Shanghai.

Hangzhou

the West Lake

Capital of Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou is a well-known tourist city at home and abroad. It lies on the lower reaches of the Qiantang River and is the southern end of the l794-kllometer-long Grand Canal (Beijing-Hangzhou Canal). With an area of 16,596 square kilometers, it embraces six urban districts and seven suburban counties.

Hangzhou is a hub of politics, economy, culture and transportation in Zhejiang Province. It is a major area for silk production in China, and has more than 1,000 years of tealeaf cultivation. Machinery, textiles and chemical industry are the pillar industries of the city with an annual GDP above RMB7.72 billion. Products with local flavor include Zhang Xiaoquan Scissors, West Lake bamboo chopsticks and silk umbrellas, etc.

Hangzhou is one of the seven ancient capitals in China with a history of 2200 years, and has long been a famous tourist attraction. The widely expressed Chinese proverb -- "in heaven there is paradise and on earth there are Hangzhou and Suzhou" -- combined with the words of Marco Polo who described this place as, the most beautiful and magnificent city in the world", all this helps to make Hangzhou one of the biggest tourist attractions in the entire country.

The West Lake provides the idyllic image of Hangzhou that most people leave with. This huge circular fresh water lake, covering 3 km from north to south and 3 km from east to west, is surrounded by hills on three sides and the city on the fourth. Two picture-postcard causeways cross the lake and three islands float in the middle. With its inviting views and outstanding scenery, the West Lake soon became popular with numerous artists, poets and painters seeking inspiration in this little bit of "paradise".

Hangzhou is a city with a rich history and culture. It first made a name in the sixth century, when the Grand Canal opened up and linked the area to other centers of trade such as Suzhou. The Southern Song Dynasty helped to make Hangzhou famous when they moved the capital here in the 12th century.

There are numerous historical relics and sights -- curtilages, garderns, pavilions, temples, towers, springs, grottos, and cliff inscriptions -- scattered throughout Hangzhou. At present, there are more than 60 scenic spots open to the public and over 40 key cultural relics preservation site