Nanjing

Overview

Introduction

Nanjing, China, located 170 mi/275 km northwest of Shanghai, was the first Ming Dynasty capital in the 1300s and Chiang Kai-shek's capital in the 1920s. Rich in historical and cultural legacy, Nanjing's name literally translates to "southern capital" as opposed to the current "northern capital" of Beijing.

Nanjing has primarily historical attractions. It's famous for its old city wall, one of the longest in the world, and for its Avenue of Animals—rows of sculptured animals that line the approach to the Ming Tombs. Nanjing's display of statuary animals is superior to those at the Ming Tombs closer to Beijing. The Tomb of Sun Yat-sen is an impressive tile-roofed building with a huge granite staircase.

The Nanjing Museum houses a 2,000-year-old jade burial suit. There is also a memorial hall to the hundreds of thousands of Chinese massacred by invading Japanese troops during the Rape of Nanjing in 1939 (for an excellent account of this historical tragedy, read the late Iris Chang's excellent book, The Rape of Nanking).

From Nanjing, you can make day trips to Pearl S. Buck's home and to the temples in nearby Zhenjiang.

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