Zhonghua Gate, the Biggest Castle-style City Gate in China

Zhonghua Gate is the South Gate of Nanjing, Jiangsu Province. As a precious cultural relic, it has the double characteristics of the largest castle gate in China and the most complex castle in the world. It is the magnificent scale, exquisite structure and superb construction technology of this castle that have left an important position in China’s military and architectural traditions.

Construction of the castle took twenty-one years, from 1366 to 1387. The Zhonghua Gate, originally called the ‘Gate of Gathering Treasure’ carries a legend from the time of its creation in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). According to the legend, when Zhu Yuanzhang, the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty, had the gate built, the ground kept sinking. The gate collapsed again and again. It was not until a treasure bowl was buried underground that it stood firm. In 1931, to commemorate the revolution of 1911 and the Republic of China (1919-1949) that emerged as a result, the Gate of Gathering Treasure was renamed Zhonghua Gate. In Chinese Pinyin, Republic of China is written as Zhonghua Minguo.

Nanjing was the capital of China during the Ming Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. Zhu Di, the son of Zhu Yuanzhang, moved the capital to Beijing in 1420. In 1366, Zhu Yuanzhang began to build a wall around the city of Nanjing to defend it from attack. The Gate of Gathering Treasure was built on the site of a previous gate, the south gate of the city built during the Later Tang Dynasty (923 – 936). The new one, the grandest among the thirteen gates of the new castle, was an architecturally complex structure composed of three closed courtyards and four arched doors serving as the entrance. There were double paneled wooden doors and with additional stone door set behind. If the enemy broke through the wooden doors, they could be separated and trapped in the three closed courtyards upon dropping the stone doors.

Twenty-seven tunnels were built in the castle to store large quantities of food and weapons and to hold approximately 3,000 soldiers. Wide and steep ramps were built on the east and west side to allow people to carry materials upward. The entire structure was built with massive bricks mortared together with special cement made from lime, sticky rice juice and tung oil. In order to guarantee the quality of the construction, every brick underwent a strict quality control process. The brick makers and builders were ordered to mark their names on each brick. Even today, it is possible to find Chinese characters and numbers on the bricks. No doubt, this detailed attention to quality of construction is one of the reasons why the condition of the castle remains so remarkably good today.

Epidemic Situation Report in Guilin & Guangxi

By China Expedition Tours, Source from Guangxi Health Commission

Released time: Feb 15, 2020

During the period from 0:00 to 24:00 on February 14, 9 new confirmed cases of pneumonia were found in Guangxi, including 2 in Nanning , 2 in Liuzhou, 1 in Yulin, 1 in Hechi and 3 in Beihai.

At present, 235 confirmed cases and 40 discharged cases have been reported. There are 6 severe cases, 6 critical cases. The second death case in Guangxi occurred in Beihai.

In total, 49 cases were confirmed in Nanning, 24 in Liuzhou, 31 in Guilin, 5 in Wuzhou, 43 in Beihai, 17 in Fangchenggang, 8 in Qinzhou, 8 in Guigang , 10 in Yulin, 3 in Baise, 4 in Hezhou, 22 in Hechi and 11 in Laibin.

At present, 14280 close contacts have been traced and 2397 cases are still under medical observation.

Nanjing Presidential Palace, the Biggest China Modern History Museum

At No. 292, Changjiang Road, Xuanwu District, the Nanjing Presidential Palace, originated in the Ming Dynasty as a royal residence, is now the biggest China Modern History Museum. More than 90,000 square meters, the Nanjing Presidential Palace covers three exhibiting sections: the middle section, the western section, and the eastern section respectively, comprising altogether eleven halls.

Through the western style gatehouse rebuilt in 1929, there are audience waiting rooms on both sides. Going forward, this road leads to the great hall, an ancient Chinese building with double eaves. The great hall has undergone many dramatic changes, but it is always ready for various occasions, such as the completion of Sun Yat-sen’s West Wing at the back of the Great Hall in 1912.

A North corridor connects the great hall and the auditorium as well as the retro second level hall in the late Qing Dynasty. The second level hall serves as a ceremonial place for the reception of envoys. Go north, pass a reception room and Kirin gate, and you will arrive at the government administration. There are many interesting materials in the exhibition. Go on, and you will arrive at the main building of Nanjing presidential palace, that is, Zichao building. There are five floors in the tower, one for civil servants, two for president and vice president, and three for meetings.

Xuyuan is located in the west side of Nanjing presidential palace, so it is also called “Xiyuan”. As a typical garden in the south of the Yangtze River, Xuyuan has stone boat,Lianyi Pavilion, Yinxin stele house, etc. The most notable building is the office of the interim president, where the first cabinet meeting of the interim republican government took place on 21 January 1912. Later occupied by military organizations of the National Government.

It had once been the site of an administration building and is now used to display some important historical documents and records. Exhibitions on different themes are often held here.

Epidemic Situation Report in Guilin & Guangxi

By China Expedition Tours, Source from Guangxi Health Commission

Released time: Feb 14, 2020

During the period from 0:00 to 24:00 on February 13, 4 new confirmed cases of pneumonia were found in Guangxi, including 3 in Nanning and 1 in Beihai.

At present, 226 confirmed cases and 35 discharged cases have been reported. There are 11 severe cases, 5 critical cases. The second death case in Guangxi occurred in Beihai.

In total, 47 cases were confirmed in Nanning, 22 in Liuzhou, 31 in Guilin, 5 in Wuzhou, 40 in Beihai, 17 in Fangchenggang, 8 in Qinzhou, 8 in Guigang , 9 in Yulin, 3 in Baise, 4 in Hezhou, 21 in Hechi and 11 in Laibin.

At present, 13811 close contacts have been traced and 3237 cases are still under medical observation.

Epidemic Situation Report in Guilin & Guangxi

By China Expedition Tours, Source from Guangxi Health Commission

Released time: Feb 13, 2020

During the period from 0:00 to 24:00 on February 12, 0 new confirmed cases of pneumonia were found in Guangxi.

At present, 222 confirmed cases (No new cases on February 12 ) and 33 discharged cases have been reported. There are 7 severe cases, 7 critical cases. The second death case in Guangxi occurred in Beihai.

In total, 44 cases were confirmed in Nanning, 22 in Liuzhou, 31 in Guilin, 5 in Wuzhou, 39 in Beihai, 17 in Fangchenggang, 8 in Qinzhou, 8 in Guigang , 9 in Yulin, 3 in Baise, 4 in Hezhou, 21 in Hechi and 11 in Laibin.

At present, 12519 close contacts have been traced and 3803 cases are still under medical observation.

Meiling Palace, May-ling Villa, the Largest Villa in Nanjing

Located at the foot of Zijin Mountain, about 6km from the center of Nanjing, Meilin palace is a magnificent villa built by President Jiang Jieshi for his wife Song Meiling. Therefore, it is also known as “May-ling Villa”. The villa is the largest in Nanjing, with a total area of more than 2000 square meters. Its formal name is National Government Chairman Residence.

Finished in 1934, Meiling Palace was specified as a residence for the chairman of the National Government, and then it was used as a restroom for officials paying homage at nearby Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum. After the war between China and Japan ended in 1946, the National Government moved back to Nanjing and Chairman Chiang Kai-Shek used this villa as his official residence. He and his wife spent a lot of time here during holidays, receiving foreign guests and worshiping Jesus.

Seen from above, the villa looks like an emerald necklace. The ring road with green plane trees is the chain and the villa with shining glazed tiles under the sunlight is the emerald pendant.

The villa is in traditional Chinese style with double eaves and a gable and hip roof covered by green glazed tiles, while the interior is in a luxurious western style. On the glazed tiles, more than 1,000 phoenixes are carved, which is the only example in China. Famous brushwork painter, Chen Zhifo, painted the eaves with beautiful birds and flowers.

The main building of Meiling Palace is a two-storey mansion, with an underground basement and a mezzanine between the first and second floor. On the east side of the basement is a staffroom, and on the west is a kitchen. On the first floor, there are reception, cloak, secretary and guard rooms. The mezzanine has a hall, a drawing room, and a grand ballroom, and the upper floor is where the Chiang couple lived, with bedrooms, studies, bathroom, Victory Chapel, and a skip-floor on the north as their private dining room. Inside the villa there are typical western fireplaces, large floor-to-ceiling windows, and modern sanity facilities.The villa was made of reinforced concrete and has a grand garden in front, a big balcony on the middle floor and terrazzo mosaic ceramic tiles. It is a perfect integration of the traditional Chinese architectural style and culture and western modern construction technology and skill. Thus Meilling Palace was praised by the former United States ambassador in China, Leighton Stuart, as the “Best Villa in Far East”.

The whole Meiling Palace shows feminine traits, in the 1000 phoenixes on the roof, and the 34 white marble pillars, each with a phoenix on it, 34 indicating Soong’s birthday date, March 4th. The inner function division also demonstrates femininity. For example, the master bedroom was furnished to Soong May-ling’s liking while the second bedroom was to Chiang’s. Soong’s secretary’s room was on the middle floor while Chiang’s secretary had a room in the basement. It’s postulated that Meilling Palace was a gift to Soong May-ling from Chiang Kai-shek.

There are several exhibitions in Meiling Palace now, showing Soong May-ling’s life as a politician, a diplomat and an artist as well as stories about this grand villa. On the second floor are a book store and a café bar.

Xuyuan Garden, Famous for its Unique Southern China Gardening Style

Xuyuan Garden was built in the Ming Dynasty. It was named after the prince Zhu gaoxu who lived here. Xuyuan Garden later became the residence of the governors of Zhejiang and Jiangsu. Xuyuan, also known as Xiyuan, is located on the west side of the palace of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864). The kingdom was founded by a peasant leader, Hong Xiuquan, who declared himself king. Xuyuan Garden later became the presidential palace of Sun Yat Sen (1912-1949), the interim president of the Republic of China. Visitors will find that Xuyuan Garden is the epitome of modern Chinese.

While Xuyuan Garden in Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province covers an area only a little more than four acres (1.6 hectares), it occupies an important place in Chinese history. Despite its relatively small size, it is also renowned for its unique southern China gardening style. It is located in the Presidential Palace, at No. 292 on Changjiang Road.

Xuyuan Garden’s scenery is definitely worth viewing especially because of its historical significance. It is one of the two most famous gardens in Nanjing City, the other being Zhanyuan Garden. With water covering about half an acre of its total area, Xuyuan Garden is small, but exquisite. Its architecture is rather ingenious, exhibiting the unique beauty and charm of southern gardening. One of the most popular spots here is Buji Zhou, a handcrafted stone boat. Other attractions include Tongyin Guan; Xijia Lou; Wangfei Pavilion and Yuanyang Pavilion.

Buji Zhou was built in 1746 by Yin Jishan, governor of Zhejiang Province and Jiangsu Province. The stone boat has become a symbol of Xu Yuan. It’s made of marble, 14.5 meters long (about 47 feet), 4.6 meters wide (about 15 feet), and 2.7 meters high (about 9 feet). Its roof is covered with yellow glazed tiles. Its brick railings are carved with many fine colored paintings on both sides of the boat. The ship is divided into fore and aft compartments. There is a stone walkway leading to the ship. The ship was named and inscribed by Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) during his tour in southern China. Buji state has two meanings: one is about its lakeside; the other is about the belief that the country can enjoy permanent stability only with the support of the masses. Xu Yuan’s breeze blowing, the lake ripples, giving people a feeling of boat floating on the waves.

Epidemic Situation Report in Guilin & Guangxi

By China Expedition Tours, Source from Guangxi Health Commission

Released time: Feb 12, 2020

During the period from 0:00 to 24:00 on February 11, 7 new confirmed cases of pneumonia were found in Guangxi, including 3 in Nanning, 1 in Guilin and 3 in Beihai.

At present, 222 confirmed cases and 31 discharged cases have been reported. There are 6 severe cases, 8 critical cases. The first death case in Guangxi occurred in Hechi.

In total, 44 cases were confirmed in Nanning, 22 in Liuzhou, 31 in Guilin, 5 in Wuzhou, 39 in Beihai, 17 in Fangchenggang, 8 in Qinzhou, 8 in Guigang , 9 in Yulin, 3 in Baise, 4 in Hezhou, 21 in Hechi and 11 in Laibin.

At present, 12519 close contacts have been traced and 3803 cases are still under medical observation.

How Large is the “Greater Wuhan”?

In history, only “Greater Shanghai” and “Greater Wuhan” have been labeled as “Greater” among all the Chinese cities. On the eve of the founding of the People Republic of China, Hankou was bigger than Peiping (old name for Beijing) at that time. “No matter how fast or slow you walk, you can’t walk out of Hankou in just one day.” This saying reflects the area of Hankou, which is only one of the three towns in Wuhan.

Historically speaking, Wuhan was originally formed by the merger of Hankou, Wuchang and Hanyang on May 16, 1949.

Today in Wuhan, there are 8 bridges on the Yangtze River, 6 bridges on the Han River and 74 parks in the urban area. The Third Ring Road in Wuhan is much larger than the Sixth Ring Road in many other cities. It will take more than three hours for a 300 km/h high-speed train to run around Wuhan.

Wuhan has China’s largest urban lake, Tangsun Lake, with a water area of 47.6 square kilometers. At the same time, East Lake, the second largest urban lake in China, with an area of 33.9 square kilometers, is also located in Wuhan. It covers six times the area of Hangzhou West Lake.

Area of Wuhan City = Area of 4 Shenzhen Cities (area of Shenzhen: 1996.8 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 8 Hong Kong (area of Hong Kong: 1104 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 80 Paris Cities (area of Paris: 105.4 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 14 Seoul Cities (area of Seoul: 605.77 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 12 Singapore (area of Singapore: 716.1 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 11 New York Cities (area of New York: 789 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 5 London Cities (area of London: 1577.3 sq. km)

Area of Wuhan City= Area of 4 Tokyo Cities (area of Tokyo: 2188 sq. km)

Wuhan, with an area of 8569.15 square kilometers, has a total population of more than 14 million by the end of 2019, including 9.08 million household registered population and 5.1 million mobile population.

Linggu Temple, the Best Buddhist Temple in the World

One of Nanjing’s famous scenic spots, Linggu Temple, which claims to be ‘the best Buddhist temple in the world’, is situated to the east of Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum in the Purple Mountain Scenic Area. Over time, its name has changed several times.

The environment here is very pleasant. The Linggu Temple is surrounded by aged dark green trees. The sweet fragrance of flowers pervades, and the sound of the bell is melodious. The forest and springs around add vitality and wild pleasure to the temple. Linggu Temple is famous in Chinese history. It is said that in the Ming Dynasty, Linggu Temple flourished. Crowds filled the place to burn joss sticks. It is said that it could hold 1,000 monks at that time.

Linggu Temple contains the Xuanzang Memorial Hall, which was built in memory of a famous monk in the Tang Dynasty (618-907). The picture of the route that Xuanzang walked and the sutra he translated are also stored here. There are also several other sights such as Non-beam Hall, Linggu Pagoda and Songfeng Pavilion.

The name of Non-beam Hall has interesting origins. Originally the temple was named Wuliang Hall as a memorial ceremony, for a Buddha named ‘Wu Liang’ was held there. Because it is constructed without any wood, it can also be called ‘Non-beam Hall’. However, ‘non-beam’ is also pronounced ‘Wu Liang’ in Chinese.

The vegetarian diet here is renowned for over 600 years. The ingredients of the dishes are chosen very carefully; the cooking is very meticulous; the appearance of the food is also very nice. Though the dishes are without meat, the taste is even better than the ones with meat. Shensong House, the famous vegetarian restaurant in Linggu Temple, lies to the east of Songlin Pavilion. Surrounded Shensong House, is a thick forest and blooming flowers. To the east of Shensong House, a spring runs under a bridge, and to the west, the sound of the bell emanates from the ancient temple. Dining here can bring you both the wonderful taste of the food and an enjoyment of natural beauty.