Nanjing (南京), one of the nation’s most important cities for over a thousand years, is recognized as one of the Four Great Ancient Capitals of China.

Nanjing first became a state capital in 229 CE, when the state of Eastern Wu founded by Sun Quan during the Three Kingdoms period relocated its capital to Jianye (建業), the city extended on the basis of Jinling Yi in 211 CE.

The first emperor of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang (the Hongwu Emperor), who overthrew the Yuan dynasty, renamed the city Yingtian, rebuilt it, and made it the dynastic capital in 1368. He constructed a 48 km (30 mi) long city wall around Yingtian, as well as a new Ming Palace complex, and government halls. It took 200,000 laborers 21 years to finish the project. The present-day City Wall of Nanjing was mainly built during that time and today it remains in good condition and has been well preserved.

Clockwise from top: 1. the city, Xuanwu Lake and Purple Mountain; 2. stone sculpture "bixie"; 3. Jiming Temple; 4. Yijiang Gate with the City Wall of Nanjing; 5. Qinhuai River and Fuzi Miao; 6. Nanjing Olympic Sports Centre; 7. the spirit way of Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum; 8. Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

Sun Yat-sen once summarized and lauded the feature of Nanjing in his book The International Development of China (建國方略):

“Nanking was the old capital of China before Peking, and is situated in a fine locality which comprises high mountains, deep water and a vast level plain—a rare site to be found in any part of the world. It also lies at the center of a very rich country on both sides of the lower Yangtze. (南京為中國古都,在北京之前,而其位置乃在一美善之地區。其地有高山,有深水,有平原,此三種天工,鐘毓一處,在世界中之大都市誠難覓如此佳境也。而又恰居長江下游兩岸最豐富區域之中心…”

Being one of the four ancient capitals of China, Nanjing has always been a cultural center attracting intellectuals from all over the country. In the Tang and Song dynasties, Nanjing was a place where poets gathered and composed poems reminiscent of its luxurious past; during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the city was the official imperial examination center (Jiangnan Examination Hall) for the Jiangnan region, again acting as a hub where different thoughts and opinions converged and thrived.

Nanjing is situated in the heartland of drainage area of lower reaches of Yangtze River, and in Yangtze River Delta, one of the largest economic zones of China.

Nanjing is famous for human historical landscapes, mountains and waters such as Fuzimiao, Ming Palace, Chaotian Palace, Porcelain Tower, Drum Tower, Stone City, City Wall, Qinhuai River, Xuanwu Lake and Purple Mountain. Key cultural facilities include Nanjing Library, Nanjing Museum and Art Museum.

 

 

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