The Confucius Temple and Qinhuai River Scenic Belt, located in the southern part of Nanjing, starts from East Shuiguan Park in the east down to the West Shuiguan Park in the west. It is centered on the ancient building complex of the Confucius Temple, with Qinhuai River as a bond. If you want feel the charm of old Nanjing, you must travel along the Qinhuai River, which is the biggest river in the city as well as the birthplace of ancient Nanjing culture.
Nanjing Fuzimiao (Confucius Temple)
The Fuzimiao (Confucius Temple), situated on the north bank of the Qinhuai River, was first built in 1034 in the Song Dynasty for people to worship and offer sacrifices to Confucius. It was gradually renovated and expanded to a place with a group of the Ming and Qing style buildings. The Confucius Temple consists of the temple in front and the school behind, fully reflecting the idea of “respecting Confucius and emphasizing education”. The natural stream of Qinhuai River was taken as the Pan Pool (crescent moon pool) of the temple. On the southern bank of the pool is the 110-meter-long Screen Wall, which was built in 1575 in the Ming Dynasty and is the biggest still preserved in China. The markets on the left and right sides of the temple form a unique pattern.
Jiangnan Examination Hall (Jiangnan Gongyuan)
Jiangnan Examination Hall (Jiangnan Gongyuan), located to the east of Confucius Temple, is bound by the Taoyedu River in the east and the Qinhuai River in the south. Founded in 1168 in the Southern Song Dynasty, it was the largest examination hall for imperial examination in ancient China. During the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty, there were 20,664 examination cubicles, covering an area of more than 30 hectares. Each cubicle is just 2 meters high, 1 meter wide and 1.33 meters deep. As soon as the candidates entered their cubicles, they were not allowed to leave, and the wooden desk plank turned into a bed at night. The whole examination lasted for nine days and seven nights, and success was rare as only 200 of the 20,000 candidates passed. Many celebrities, including Tang Bohu, Wu Jingzi, Zheng Banqiao, Lin Zexu and Chen Duxiu, took part in the examinations here.
Zhanyuan Garden, known as the “No. 1 Garden in Nanjing”, is located on Zhanyuan Road, several minutes walk from Confucius Temple. Legend has it that, the title of “Zhanyuan Garden” was bestowed by Emperor Qianlong when he traveled to Nanjing for the second time. The garden is full of rockeries, which is the main characteristic of the garden. The Taihu stones in the garden are the remains of the Northern Song Dynasty. The Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum is located on the grounds of Zhanyuan Garden.
Zhonghua Gate (Gate of China, Nanjing)
Zhonghua Gate, formerly known as “Treasure Gate” in the Ming Dynasty, is located on the north bank of the Qinhuai River. It is the largest castle-style gate among the 13 ancient gates of Nanjing. With its rigorous layout and its unique structure, Zhonghua Gate has three barbican entrances to the city and four arched gates. Zhonghua Gate Castle, 128 meters in length from south to north and 118.5 meters in width from east to west, has 27 caves used to hold military supplies and to launch ambushes in time of war. Zhonghua Gate is a scenic spot with unique characteristic in the Qinhuai Scenic Belt.
Wuyi Lane is located on the south side of Qinhuai River in Nanjing, and the name Wuyi means black clothes. Wangdao and Xie’an, the two founding fathers of Eastern Jin Dynasty, once lived here. The famous poem Wuyi Lane, written by Tang poet Liu Yuxi, is based on it. The newly rebuilt Former Residence of Wang and Xie (also called Memorial Hall of Wangdao and Xie’an) with Ming and Qing styles shows the history and culture of the Six Dynasties, and tells you the history of the two families.
Former Residence of Li Xiangjun
In the Ming and Qing dynasties, there emerged numerous ladies and prostitutes along the Qinhuai River, especially the “Eight Beauties of Qinhuai River” who were famous for their beauty and talent, and their great patriotic sense. Among them, Li Xiangjun has the most courage and insight. The antique residential-style Meixiang Tower with an air of great antiquity on the north bank of the Qinhuai River was the former residence of Li Xiangjun.
Egret Island Park
Egret Island Park was formerly known as the private garden of the descendants of Xu Da, King Zhongshan of the Ming Dynasty. During the Yongle period of the Ming Dynasty, Queen Renxiao (the eldest daughter of Xu Da) bestowed a piece of land on her family because of the illustrious merits of her father. With its vivid landscapes, this piece of land was east of the mansion of Xu Family near the city walls. The park is rich in water, and some oases are hidden and some partly visible. The wonderful and various landscapes of lakes and mountains make it a shinning pearl in the Qinhuai Scenic Belt. Now, large live-action performance can be enjoyed at night.
Historical and Cultural Leisure Tourism Area in the Old South City
Old South City, the most densely populated area of Nanjing, is centered on the Confucius Temple, and is bounded by the city walls to the east and west, Zhonghua Gate to the south, and Baixia Road to the north. With a varied range of cultures, it retains the diverse features of the cultures of the Eastern Jin Dynasty, the Southern Dynasties, the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Republic of China and modern China. The streets and lanes of the Southern Tang Dynasty, the ancient wells of the Song Dynasty, the buildings and slabstone roads of the Ming and Qing dynasties, all coexist here. Therefore, the Old South City is the birthplace of the culture of Nanjing, and embodies the characteristics of the ancient city with a history of thousands of year.
A boat ride on the Qinhuai River is a wonderful experience, especially in the evening when the neon signs light up the river. Many kinds of boats are available for rent.