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Uncovering Pudong’s hidden historical gems
2015-06-23
By Qu Zhi

PUDONG New Area is known for its financial services industry as well as its tall buildings. But the area has more than just skyscrapers and banks. In towns around Pudong’s outskirts, one can find lovely antique architecture and beautiful natural scenes. While ancient towns like Xinchang rarely appear in travel guides, they offer a tranquil break from Shanghai’s crowded and commercially-oriented downtown areas. With the Dragon Boat Festival holiday over the weekend, Shanghai Daily presents several secluded areas of Pudong that could make ideal destinations for an early summer outing.

Old Residence of Zhang Wentian

Zhang Wentian (1900-76) was general secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1935 to 1943.

Born in Nanhui County (now in Pudong New Area), Zhang studied engineering here. He also attended the University of California in the US. He later studied at Sun Yat-sen University in Moscow and went on the Long March (1934-36).

He held various posts and served as Chinese ambassador to the former Soviet Union.

The old residence in Pudong is where Zhang spent his teen years.

The rural brick residence was constructed in 1892, with two rooms facing south. It is located near a bamboo forest and river. There is a vegetable garden in the front yard.

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Old Residence of Zhang Wentian

Address: 50 Wenju Rd,
Chuansha Town

Admission: Free

Zhoupu Flower Land

Half an hour’s drive from People’s Square in the center of Shanghai, one can find the flowering fields of Zhoupu Town.

The Flower Land, as it is known, includes an area that was once the private garden of a rich and influential family surnamed Zhang, who were at the height of their power during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The garden has expanded beyond the Zhangs’ original plot and now covers 333,333 square meters.

The area features different types of imported flowers suited for each season. For instance, visitors can enjoy lavender from Provence, France, in summer, tulips from the Netherlands and poppy flowers from England in spring.

In addition to walking along the flower land’s winding pathways, visitors can also take part in rice dumpling making and kite building activities.

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Zhoupu Flower Land

Address: 406 Shenjiang Rd, Zhoupu Town

Admission: 60 yuan

How to get there: Take Metro Line 16 to Zhoupu Station and transfer to the shuttle bus to the flower garden.

Xinchang Ancient Town

At the entrance of the Xinchang Ancient Town stands a memorial archway built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) for a senior official. The richly-decorated archway still stands today, a totem to the official and an emblem of the town’s past.

Xinchang, located in the Nanhui area of Pudong, was once a prosperous marketplace for salt. In its heyday hundreds of years ago, this tiny hamlet flourished with prosperity.

Passing through the archway, one encounters the town’s main streets and waterway.

On each side of its narrow alleyways are many shops and eateries. These same buildings were once courtesan pavilions, taverns and mercantile establishments. More than half of the town’s buildings are preserved from the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.

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Unlike many other water towns in Shanghai, Xinchang is found in few travel guides and is only lightly frequented by tourists.

Moving into the modern era, Xinchang experienced its share of ups and downs. While the sliding fortune of the salt trade eventually turned the town into a commercial backwater, Xinchang still boasts a rich culture and a charming atmosphere.

Jiangnan sizhu, a form of instrumental music popular in southern regions of the Yangtze River, figures centrally in the town’s cultural history. This form of music was once performed across Shanghai in private homes, at teahouses and even during big occasions like weddings or funerals. Today, local residents of Xinchang still hire jiangnan sizhu bands for important events.

The words jiangnan refer to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in southern Jiangsu Province, Shanghai and northern Zhejiang Province. Sizhu — literally “silk and bamboo” — refers to traditional string and wind instruments like the pipa (Chinese lute), the erhu (a two-stringed bowed musical instrument), the dizi (bamboo flute) and the sheng (reed pipe).

Not far from the center of Xinchang sits the Nanshan Temple, dating from 1306. Over the centuries, the temple has been refurbished numerous times. There is still one thing in the temple that dates from its original construction — a ginkgo tree in the back garden.

 

Xinchang Ancient Town

Address: 128 Haiquan Street, Xinchang Town

Admission: Free

How to get there: Take Metro Line 16 to Xinchang Station and transfer Xinchang No.3 Bus or No. 628 Bus to Xinchang Bus Terminal.


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