Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Of the city of Nanjing;

The skyscrapers of Nanjing.
The second city on my tour through China was the city of Nanjing. With a population of about eight million people, the city is one of the smaller places I visited in China. I had a few people ask me about why I chose to visit Nanjing since it isn't a major tourist site in China. My response was that I came to Nanjing for its history. While studying the Ming Dynasty at my university I would occasionally hear about the importance of the city of Nanjing. It has been the capital city to several dynasties and its position on the Yangtze River led to its growth as a major trade city. For a time, it was even the world's most populated city.

Nanjing is about 2 hours northwest of Shanghai by high-speed train.
The name "Nanjing" shows its importance in Chinese history. While the name Beijing means Northern Capital (Bei = North; Jing = Capital) Nanjing means Southern Capital (Nan = South; Jing = Capital). It was capital of the Six Dynasties (229 AD), the first capital of the Ming (1368), and was even capital of the Republic of China in the early 20th century. Around the city I was still able to see elements remaining from its past as an imperial capital.

Right outside of my hostel I kept seeing signs for the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing on the walls around a park, but I couldn't ever see the tower. Eventually I found out that the tower is actually one of the seven wonders of the medieval world, but was destroyed in 1856 during the Taiping Rebellion led by a man who claimed he was the brother of Jesus. Today, there are still signs for the tower because there are plans to rebuild it.

Fischer von Erlach's 1721 illustration of the Porcelain Tower.
The city walls of Nanjing are longest city walls still standing in the world.

Japanese forces entering the city of Nanjing.
 As capital of the Republic of China, the city of Nanjing was captured by Japanese forces in 1937 as part of the early Pacific-Theater of WWII. In the months following the fall of Nanjing, and estimated 250,000 Chinese civilians were brutally killed in what is known as the Rape of Nanking. Today the massacre is still a touchy subject since some Japanese officials are denying the massacre ever took place. After the war, Nanjing was able to develop into the important industrial city it is today.

A Japanese soldier standing over the massacre victims
A park dedicated to the nation's martyrs.
A view looking over Nanjing and the 89 story Zifeng Tower, the 8th tallest skyscraper in the world.
One of the canals in downtown Nanjing. It is horribly polluted and (other than stinky tofu) was the worse thing I smelled in China.

A cleaner and more pleasant canal.

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