With a history as rich as that of the Port of Nanjing, visitors will find a limitless list of sights and experiences in the city.
It contains many historic sites from the Ming Dynasty period, including the Xiaoling Mausoleum (the tomb of the 14th Century Ming Dynasty’s founder), the Dismounting Horse Archway, Prohibition Tablet, Inner Red Gate, four walls of the Tablet Pavilion, many stone sculptures, and the Square City. One of China’s biggest imperial tombs, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.
Built in the mid-14th Century, the Ming City Wall was 33.7 kilometers long, and 21.4 kilometers of the wall still stand, including ancient battlements and stone sluices. In 1988, China made the wall a key cultural relic under state protection.
Visitors can see the remains of the 1367 Ming Imperial Palace where three emperors lived. Prototype for the Imperial Palace in Beijing, it contained the Imperial and Palace Cities. The Qing Dynasty destroyed it in 1644, but some foundations, columns, walls, and carved stones remain.
The restored tomb of Zhenghe celebrates the accomplishments of this early mariner whose fleet navigated the Old Silk Road to the Sea. Designed in Islamic style (He’s religion), the steps leading to his tomb symbolize his voyages to over 40 countries in just 28 years at the turn of the 14th Century. Zhenghe built many wooden ships, and three of the shipyards he used still exist.
The Presidential Palace was headquarters for emperors and the Nationalist government, housing Sun Yat-sen and Chang Kai-shek. The flag of the Republic of China still flies there, and it contains the offices of many government officials.
The Port of Nanjing Museum covers almost 13 hectares. Located inside the Zhongshan Gate, it was built in 1933 and now contains many exhibits of cultural and national treasures. The museum is a “must-see” for people who are interested in China’s history. Visitors will find cultural relics, paintings, ancient books, calligraphies, and porcelains dating back to 200 BC. Of particular interest is a jade suit sewn with silver thread during the early 3rd Century Eastern Han Dynasty.
Dear to the Chinese is the Monument to the 1937 Nanjing Massacre honoring the many victims of Japanese troops during World War II. The memorial includes an excavated mass burial site and an underground multi-media museum describing the events.
The Confucius Temple is a popular spot for tourists. This once-massive building is now a small museum, but it is also home to a huge market where visitors can haggle with vendors for some great deals.
The southern gate of the city’s wall, Zhonghuamen, is one of the best preserved parts of the ancient Port of Nanjing and one of the best examples of early Ming defensive architecture. The gate includes three old storage depots that now contain exhibitions about the gate.
The Taiping Museum and Zhanyuan Gardens memorialize the Taiping Rebellion of the mid-19th Century. The rebellion was one of the bloodiest events in the country’s history and a critical part of China’s relationship with foreign countries. For a time, the rebels challenged the Beijing government from the Port of Nanjing.
Visitors should not miss the Purple Mountain northeast of the Port of Nanjing’s center. It is home to the mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, tomb of the first Ming emperor, and the tomb of Three Kingdoms’ Sun Quan. You can ride a train to the mountaintop or choose to hike.
Xuanwu Hu is a beautiful lake with three islands and wonderful views of Purple Mountain. The lake contains an amusement park for children, a zoo, and paddle boats.
The Yangtze River Cruise starts in Beijing and ends its water course in Nanjing. It continues on by land to Shanghai. The cruise assails visitors with many stops where China’s history was made. For a list of ocean cruises that stop in Nanjing, search for “Nanjing” on the Cruise Compete website.