Archive for the 'Shandong' Category

Villas of Badaguan, Qingdao

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Today, we’ll continue with our series about famous streets in China. Qingdao, with its azure sea, white sand and green trees, is one of China’s most beautiful coastal cities. It’s also unique, in that it combines the charm of southern China with the prosperity of the north. On top of that, Qingdao can claim to be one of the country’s more westernized cities, a result of being occupied by the Japanese and Germans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Lying on the southern side of the Shandong Peninsula, its mountain slopes and coastal plains are covered with modern cityscapes and old European-style architecture. Today, we’ll take you to an area of Qingdao called Badaguan. It’s one of the most famous streets in China.

Qingdao

Qingdao was made a special city by the Nanjing Nationalist Government in April 1929. After that, a series of large-scale construction projects began, which attracted an influx of foreign investment as well as domestic capital. As a result, Qingdao entered a period of fast growth and prosperity. Many of the officials serving in the Nanjing government were educated in Europe and the United States, and their western perspectives on urban planning and architecture changed the face of the city forever.

The large-scale construction attracted many young Chinese architects to Qingdao, who designed and built beautiful homes for the rich and powerful. Badaguan became something of a showcase of architectural art. After the founding of New China in 1949, the Badaguan area was turned into a public sanatorium.

Today, Badaguan is a symbol of Qingdao. With its great natural and man-made beauty, it attracts visitors from all over the world. Travelling from west to east along the seashore of Qingdao, there’s much more to see than just picturesque seascapes. Hidden among the beautiful natural landscapes are examples of the city’s great cultural heritage. In Badaguan in particular, what makes this heritage special is its unique blend of Eastern and Western influences.

Zhaode Ancient Street, Qingzhou

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Today, we’re continuing with our exploration of some of the most famous streets in China, by heading to Qingzhou in the heart of Shandong Province. It was in Qingzhou that Dongyi culture, one of the earliest Neolithic civilizations in China, originated 8300 years ago. Qingzhou’s location makes it a natural transport hub, and two and a half thousand years ago, it had well-established trade relations with the Western Regions. More recently, during the Yuan Dynasty some seven hundred years ago, there was a mass migration of ethnic Hui merchants from the Western Regions, who settled in Qingzhou. They formed their own distinct community, which was centred on an area known as Zhaode Ancient Street. It became quite prosperous during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Zhaode Ancient Street, Qingzhou, China

At the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Zhaode Ancient Street was a hive of activity, when it was lined by numerous famous shops and workshops. Today, some of the old buildings remain just as they were. Also well preserved, thanks to people like Ding Zuming and Xu Zuotan, are some of the ancient skills associated with the ancient culture.

For old people like Ding Zuming, going to the mosque every day to pray, is a daily routine. It’s an aspect of the traditional way of life which they plan to keep alive, as long as their health permits.

Preserving an ancient street is not just about renovating buildings; it’s about keeping history and lifestyles alive. Amid the rising tide of urban development, modern cities are increasingly becoming indistinguishable from one another. Often, it’s only in the old streets, such as Qingzhou’s Zhaode Ancient Street, that a city’s true character is still evident. And it’s here that these cities retain some of their most vivid and richest memories.