Shanghai's must-see attractions

Shanghai or the madness of grandeur! The commercial "pearl" of Eastern or «East», the tumultuous port city has not escaped Western fantasies of the time of concessions before being left behind after the Mao years arrived. In deep rural China, it embodies more than ever the symbol of renewal, nestled on the banks of the Huangpu River, at the mouth of the Yangtse, and is a good student with more than 18 million inhabitants. You can discover as many atmospheres as neighborhoods, behind its skyscraper façade, its shopping centers, luxurious brands and connected bars hide limestone, treasure shops and centenary houses of all kinds. This does not detract from its constant development and pharaonic projects born of the Universal Exhibition (2010) with its 73 million visitors who have seen a new 5 km ² neighborhood and many new infrastructure.

But Shanghai is plural, we spend recent architectural masterpieces in masterpieces Art Decco, narrow streets in big crowded arteries, lofty lanes, underground spots… A stay in Shanghai is therefore an immersion in a known world and reminds of its twin sisters Hong Kong, Tokyo or New York. As a gateway to China, Shanghai is probably the easiest Chinese city for foreigners.

A walk on the Bund is like eating pasta in Italy, it's unavoidable! Starting point of any visit to Shanghai, the eyes riveted on one side on the towers of the Pudong, vertiginous to wish, on the other to the more historic buildings, Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque or Art Deco. Whether it's old palaces, large bank seats or mythical places, these buildings make the city proud. From the north to the south, the buildings go one to one, from the former meteorological station in Shanghai, a city lighthouse dating back to 1907, contrasting considerably with the small red brick maisonettes. It is now home to the Bund Museum.

Then rises to us the old seat of HSCB, beautiful neoclassical building overhanging by a central dome surrounded by all parts of mosaics. And the list is still long, China's telecommunications bank, the latest building on the Bund, the former siege of Chartered Bank of India, refurbished in bars and galleries, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel and its great green copper pyramid, and the Astor House, the last mythical hotel before the Waibaidu bridge. Good visit!

The Yu Garden may disappoint some, which are unlikely to admire its beauty. Still, the Yu Garden remains one of Shanghai's most important attractions. Regarded as the most beautiful of the whole region, it is worth enjoying in the face of the constant flow of tourists. It is better to take patience, therefore, to cross the doors of this site built under the Ming dynasty in the sixteenth century by Pan Yunduan, a senior official based in Sichuan. He was handed hands in his history and was used as a commercial headquarters by businessmen from 1760 and occupied by British troops before becoming the seat of the secret society of the Small Knives during the uprising against the imperial government.

It was in 1961 that its doors opened to the public after an umpteenth phase of renovations. Today, there are two hectares of calm and harmonious landscape divided into six by five large walls in the form of dragons. Rocailles, ponds, small bridges and pavilions give it a unique charm. In the middle of this ensemble, the highlight of the visit is: the yellow rocketing rock created by Zhang Nanyang, a garden art specialist under the Ming.

A museum in the middle of the people square, what idea! But what is more normal for the cultural navel of the city. Resembling a bunker, you should not be discouraged from entering because inside, it is the country's most beautiful collection of traditional Chinese art waiting for art lovers and curious. The collections were moved, at the angle of Henan Lu and Yan 'an Donglu already before 1995, then in this new museum, built to value them even more. In its oval form of large anal basket (indeed, as the Shanghaians have nicknamed it), it houses over 120,000 pieces.

On the ground floor, the sculpture gallery mainly exhibits Buddhist works of the Han dynasties in Tang, the bronze room counts, with no less than 440 pieces ranging from cuts to wine, arms or musical instruments from Shang and Zhou periods (1480-221 BC), as well as of the Spring and Automnes (772-481 BC). On the floor, place ceramics and celadons of the Song dynasty, blue porcelain of Jindezhen furnaces, jade, calligraphy, paintings and coins of Ming and Qing dynasties. Block a whole day…

The MOCA doesn't tell you anything? Yet it is the largest museum of contemporary art in Shanghai, surrounded by a greenery. Shanghai's first private art museum, funded by the Samuel Kung Foundation, the name of the Hong Kong businessman, contemporary art has the beautiful share of 4,000 m ² of collections, including an exhibition surface of 1,800 m ².

Inaugurated in September 2005 under its striking glass architecture (which is worth a few beautiful observation spots) with a retrospective of the French artist couple Pierre and Gilles on the occasion of France's year in China, he presents original international exhibitions that often appear as indefensible. Among the latest ones: Pixar: 25 years of animation, "Culture Chanel" or "Spirit Dior". The MOCA also organizes receptions, conferences and projection sessions and is an official partner of Shanghai 7 th Art, a French film festival on large screen in Shanghai, proposed by the normal University of Shanghai, with support from the French Consulate General in Shanghai and the Shanghai Alliance of Shanghai. China loves France and makes it good.

Inaugurated in 1998, the Shanghai Opera (Dagejuyuan) was designed by the French architectural firm ARTE-Charpentier. Between tradition and modernity, its architecture incorporates Chinese culture codes interpreted in contemporary language. The plan is based on square geometry, which represents the land in the Chinese symbolism, while the curve curve of the building is a bow of circle depicted the sky. Chinese myth requires that the sky is round like the roof and the earth, square like the body of the building. Jacques Chirac welcomed the aesthetic quality of the building and the architects' efforts during his presidential visit in May 1997.

Such a building did not happen in one day and pushed the limits of innovation even further. As a result of innovative solutions and the use of advanced cutting-edge techniques, glass facades have been suspended. The 7,000 tons of steel in the basement, hull hulled by the Shanghai shipyards and assembled on the ground, were raised to 40 m in height with cylinders. And the acoustics were very well thought out, with a room of 1,800 seats, capable of collecting the classical repertoire. A place to advise without any doubt.

The most famous temple of the city, if one had to choose only one, would be this one. Because it houses some of the most important relics in the city! Especially since he has remained active and includes a monastery where more than sixty monks still practice Zen Buddhism… Zen does not mean that we must forget to wear a dress deemed decent, that is, for both men and women not to have arms or legs discovered.

Built between 1911 and 1918, he was designed to shelve two white jade statues reported from Burma in 1882 by Hui Gen, famous and charismatic Chinese monk. One of the two represents a seated Buddha, encrusted with precious stones measuring almost two meters and weighing three tons, adding to his sacrality. The other smaller (almost one meter) symbolizes the death of Buddha. It is above all the authenticity of this peaceful place, thanks to its very representative architecture of the Song dynasty and its various halls and courses in which the trees of the red ribbons are truncated by the visitors of the red ribbons as a charm.

For shopping addicts, direction Nanjing Street! Named in 1864, Shanghai's main shopping street was the central avenue of the old international concession. Since September 1999, Nanjing Lu has been partly reserved for pedestrians. Between Henan Lu and Xizang Lu, over 60 department stores, specialty shops and offices are gathered. Almost two million walkers walk there every weekend, but the Shanghaians prefer the Huaihai Lu, the chic avenue of the old French concession.

Lined with several thousand shops, stretching over 5.5 km (record of the world's longest shopping street), this enclave is in phase to become a tiny Hong Kong with its flashing neons. Don't miss Store 1, at the corner of Tibet Street, a Art Deco structure built in 1934 by three young Chinese architects, staying the most popular store in Shanghai with 250,000 visitors a day. The western part of the Rue de Nankin begins in the place of the People of Shanghai with much more car traffic and less interesting shops despite the Shanghai counterfeit market, offering foreigners a multitude of cheap gadgets, clothes and souvenirs, all over five floors.

Set in 247, more than 1,750 years ago, this is Shanghai's oldest place of Buddhist worship and the entire region for who likes old temples. Built in time of the Three Kingdoms of China, the Jing 'an temple was originally erected on the Suzhou River but moved to 1216, when it was installed on Nanjing Xi Lu. Destroyed more than once and rebuilt, its main hall dates from the beginning of the century (1921) and the other buildings have little more than 150 years. It is essential, even though the "eight treasures" it once housed are no longer visible (the famous well at the entrance - Bubbling Well - is the last to have been destroyed in the 1950 s).

This does not prevent him from being one of the most visited by Chinese and international tourists, many of whom appreciate its location in the middle of the skyscrapers and the serenity that emerges. He also continues to attract many practitioners who always regard him as a place of privileged prayer and are rushing throughout the day. After the visit, don't forget to take a walk to Jing 'an Park, which is a pleasant spot for a small green break in one of the world's most breathtaking cities… 

Xintiandi is first and foremost the successful bet of the rehabilitation of an old pedestrian district in Shanghai, east of the old French concession, redesigned to house designer boutiques, bars and chic restaurants in shikumen (either the «stone houses» with arched doors and often red bricks). It has been very popular since its inauguration in 2002, and has been nicknamed in all modesty «New Heaven on Earth» (literal translation of the term Xintiandi).

Separated into several blocks by Xingye Lu, where the site of the first national congress of the Chinese Communist Party (to visit), as well as a very recent shopping mall, is found in the north block that most interesting things are found. In particular, with its shikumen and romantic alleys populated by renowned designers, exquisite restaurants and the indispensable visit of the Shikumen Open House, rebuilding the traditional shikumen. This synthesis between Chinese culture and Western influences to create an atmosphere recalling that of the time of concessions is growing. Small "copies" of Xintiandi have been born in other parts of Shanghai. Especially in Taikang Lu, which became also famous.

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