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 that 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 and easily accessible by public transportation, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town with a history of more than 1700 years, and is sometimes called Shanghai's Venice. Covering an area of 47 square kilometres, the little fan-shaped town glimmers like a bright pearl amidst a 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 tranquility.
2. Jing'an Temple
Jing'an Temple is one of the most famous temples in Shanghai and is located on West Nanjing Road, in 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 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. Jade Buddha Temple
North of central Jing’an sits a venerable and famous Buddhist temple called the Jade Buddha Temple. In 1882, an old temple was built to keep two jade Buddha statues which had been brought from Burma by a monk named Huigen. The temple was destroyed during the revolution that overthrew the Qing Dynasty. Fortunately the statues were saved and a new temple was built on the present site in 1928.
The two precious jade Buddhist statues are not only rare cultural relics but also porcelain artworks. Both the Sitting Buddha and the Recumbent Buddha are carved with whole white jade.
4. Shippo old street
Shippo Old Street is located in QiBao which is one of the most accessible “old towns” from downtown Shanghai, connected by Shanghai Metro Line 9. The name Qibao translates to “seven treasures” referring to an old legend that there are seven treasures located in this area. Tourists are attracted to this destination by its abundance of traditional Chinese architecture, museums, and street food.