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Top 5 Urban Districts in China w. Google Earth Links

Apr 5, 2010

[sources]: 1. xianlu | 2. iceninejon | 3. birgerhoppe | 4. cfswxy | 5. mr_tl

For this Scenic Splendor of China selection, most categories are about natural scenes like mountains, rivers, and lakes, etc.. Besides, there are indeed a couple dedicated to humanity. Today, I am going to show you the most beautiful urban districts in China.

A bit unfortunately, due to social and political turmoil in the recent 200 years, very few traditional Chinese urban districts are preserved from destruction and modernization. Among the top 5 urban districts I will show you below, three of them are western urban districts built by European colonists in early 20th century.

You can view all these top 5 most beautiful urban districts in Google Earth here.

1. Gulangyu Island 厦门鼓浪屿 – Harmony of piano tweedle and roaring waves
Google Earth | Wiki | Official Website | Location: Xiamen, Fujian

Gulangyu is a car free island off the coast of Xiamen, Fujian province in southern China, about 1km2 in area. It is home to about 16,000 people and is a very popular tourist destination. The community’s only means of transport is by foot, and the peaceful island provides an alternative to the hectic life in Xiamen city across the river, although the recent introduction of electric tourist buggies is damaging the island’s charm.

Gulangyu is famous for its architecture and for hosting China’s only piano museum, giving it the nickname of “Piano Island” or “The Town of Pianos” or “The Island of Music”. There are over 200 pianos on this island.

2. Old City of Suzhou 苏州老城 – Ancient city surrounded by modernity
Google Earth | Wiki | Official Website | Location: Suzhou, Jiangsu

“Venice of the East” or “Venice of China”. Suzhou is one of the most (if not “the” most) ancient and well-preserved old city in China.

The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Suzhou has also been an important centre for China’s silk industry and continues to hold that prominent position today.

3. Historical District of Macau 澳门历史城区 – Western culture landed here
Google Earth | Wiki | Official Website | Location: Macau SAR

Macau was a Portuguese colony and both the first and last European colony in China. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 16th century and subsequently administered the region until the handover on 20 December 1999.

Macau is famous for the blend of Portuguese and Chinese cultures and its gambling industry. In Historical District of Macau, you can enjoy a immense taste of Portuguese culture you can hardly find anywhere else in Asia.

4. Ba Da Guan (the Eight Passes) of Qingdao 青岛八大关 – Style left by the Colonists
Google Earth | Wiki | Location: Qingdao, Shandong

Ba Da Guan is a major tourist-attraction close to the coast of Qingdao. It’s made up of eight streets named after the eight great military forts of the ancient times. Along the streets are many classic European houses built when Qingdao was a German protectorate (1897-1914). Its atmosphere is unlike any other place in China, with large, grassy lawns, wide streets, and minimal traffic.

Ba Da Guan must be one of China’s great centers for wedding photography. On nearly any day one can see tens of newlywed couples being photographed along Ba Da Guan’s shoreline and greenspace.

5. Shi-cha-hai Lake 北京什刹海地区 – Fashion next to the political center
Google Earth | Wiki | Location: Beijing

Shichahai is an historic scenic area consisting of three lakes in the north of central Beijing in China. They are located to the north-west of the Forbidden City and north-west of the Beihai Lake. Shichahai consists of the following three lakes: Qianhai (Front Sea Lake), Xihai (West Sea Lake) and Houhai (Back Sea Lake).

Shichahai consists of 147 hectares and dates back to the Jin Dynasty. From the time of the Yuan Dynasty it was the northernmost part of the Grand Canal linking Hangzhou in the south to Beijing in the North of China. Because of this the Shichahai area used to be the most important commercial district with all kinds of activities going on. It harbors several temples and mansions.

[Scenic Splendor of China Series]
This is one post of the Scenic Splendor of China Series. In 2005.10, Chinese National Geography (CNG) selected 114 “most beautiful places” covering 17 different types of scenic patterns. The complete list is here. In Chinese. These scenic places will be covered individually in future.

[Chinese Keywords]
中国最美的地方 城区

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