Shanghai's historic and cultural zones are part and parcel of the city's heritage. They shed important light on the city's past glory and are the groundwork of the city's cultural ethos.
Shanghai, which became a port in 1843, boasts myriad historic zones and buildings marooned in modern high-rises, giving Shanghai a typical metropolitan edge.
As part of its endeavor to preserve the city’s historical heritage, the municipal government has named 44 historical and cultural zones, including 12 in downtown area which cover an area of 27 square kilometers and 32 in the suburbs which cover an area of 14 square kilometers. The city also has 19 protected sites at the national level, 163 protected sites at the municipal level, and 632 buildings of high historic value.
The 12 historical and cultural zones named by the government include the Bund, People’s Square, Laochengxiang, Hengshan Road-Fuxing Road, Hongqiao Road, Shanyin Road, Jiangwan Road, Longhua, Tilanqiao, Nanjing West Road, Yuyuan Road and Xinhua Road.
1.Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
Located in a suburb of Shanghai city, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town well-known throughout the country, with a history of more than 1700 years, also called Shanghai's Venice. Covering an area of 47 square kilometers, the little fan-shaped town glimmers like a bright pearl in the landscape of lakes and mountains.
Endowed with another elegant name - 'Pearl Stream' - the little town is the best-preserved among the four ancient towns in Shanghai. Unique old bridges across bubbling streams, small rivers shaded by willow trees, and houses with courtyards attached all transport people who have been living amidst the bustle and hustle of the modern big city to a brand-new world full of antiquity, leisure and tranquillity.
Jing'an Temple is one of the most famous temples in Shanghai which is located at West Nanjing Road, the flourishing downtown area of Shanghai. In 1983, it was put on the list of key national protection.
The temple has a history of more than 780 years. First built in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), it was named Hudu Chongyuan Temple. In the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), it was moved to the present location from the bank of Wusong River and became a busy and crowded place until 1908; the first tramcar was built as Jing'an Temple for its starting station. Later, a famous calligrapher renamed it as Jing'an Temple in 1945 and is still named as such today. Unfortunately, the temple was burnt down to ruins in 1972. However, the reconstruction began after 1984, so the Hall of Heavenly Kings and the Three-Sage Hall were repaired in succession. In 1990, the whole temple was finally opened to the public.
3.Longhua Pagoda & Longhua Temple
Located on the Longhua Road at the south of the city, Longhua Park is famous for the ancient Longhua Temple, Longhua Pagoda, the Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony and the peach blossoms.
First built in 242 AD, which is during the period of the Three Kingdoms, Longhua Temple is the oldest temple in Shanghai for its long history of over 1700 years. Because of the several destructions by the wars, most of the buildings here were reconstructed during the reign of the Emperor Tongzhi and Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty.
Besides its long history, Longhua Temple is the largest temple in Shanghai. It occupies an area of over 20,000 square meters (five acres) and the architectural proportion is about 5,000 square meters. Along the 194 meters long axis are the Maitreya Hall (Miledian), Devajara Hall (Tianwangdian), Mahavira Hall (Daxiongbaodian), Three Sages Hall (Sanshengdian), Abbot's Hall (Fangzhangshi) and the Sutras Keeping Hall (Cangjinglou) which keeps the three treasures of the temple including the Dazang sutras, the gold seals and the Buddhist statues. Accessory halls on the two sides are the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower, both of them are furnished with the same hexagonal windows and the curved eaves. The whole courtyard was built strictly in the style of traditional Buddhist symmetry and it's in accordance with the Chinese concept of beauty.
A venerable copper bell which is two meters in height, one point three meters in diameter and weighs five tons is placed on the three-storied Bell Tower. The Evening Bell-Striking Ceremony on 31st December is regarded as one of the eight great attractions of Shanghai. Welcoming the New Year in the melodious, heavenly sound of the bell is an interesting and memorable experience.
The seven-storied, 40.4 meters high Longhua Pagoda stands in front of the Longhua Temple, the brick body and the wooden staircases make up its main structure. Each storey is smaller than the storey below, and all the levels are encircled by balconies and banisters. Bells on each corner of the octagonal eaves make cheerful and lively sounds as the wind passes by. The pagoda has been rebuilt several times, but the style of the Song Dynasty still remains to today.