Tibetan Buddhists believe that Jokhang Temple is at the centre of Lhasa and Lhasa is at the centre of the world. In other words, it is the most sacred temple in Tibetan Buddhism. Surrounding the temple is Barkor Street, and it is a key act of worship among Tibetan Buddhists, to circumnavigate the temple, walking clockwise along this street.
Lying on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, beside Lake Taihu, Suzhou is often referred to as the ‘water city’. Today, the old part of Suzhou centred around Pingjiang Road in the northeast, remains little changed since the time of the Song Dynasty, some 800 years ago. There, stone bridges, flowing waters and meticulously designed gardens intertwine with each other to form a picture of idyllic charm.
At the time of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Zhaode Ancient Street was a hive of activity, when it was lined by numerous famous shops and workshops. Today, some of the old buildings remain just as they were. Also well preserved, thanks to people like Ding Zuming and Xu Zuotan, are some of the ancient skills associated with the ancient culture.
The 2700 years old city of Pingyao in the heart of Shanxi Province, is a World Heritage Site. Almost every day, its streets are crowded with tourists from all over the world. One of the most popular attractions is South Street, which is commonly known as the ancient city’s backbone. The name comes not only from its central location; it’s also a reference to the dozens of ancient shops, built in a distinctive traditional architectural style, that line it on both sides.
Today, Badaguan is a symbol of Qingdao. With its great natural and man-made beauty, it attracts visitors from all over the world. Travelling from west to east along the seashore of Qingdao, there’s much more to see than just picturesque seascapes. Hidden among the beautiful natural landscapes are examples of the city’s great cultural heritage.
For 600 years, the Huizhou merchants occupied a unique and highly influential position in the history of Chinese commerce. In the Southern Song Dynasty, after the capital was moved from Kaifeng to Lin´an, the country’s political and economic centre shifted to the south. Huizhou, with its strategic location, was a communications hub between north and south, and it became key to the economy of China’s southeast.
The original owners of the old houses in Sanfang Qixiang are long gone, of course. But their stories and the legends associated with them, are an important part of the local history. Fuzhou today is a thoroughly modern city. But its people are mindful of the need to protect its history and traditions. And so Sanfang Qixiang remains a centre of human activity, and is just as vibrant as at any time in its past. And in it, the traditional way of life goes on, even as modern lifestyles are developing around it.
In the 2009 poll to discover the top ten Historical and Cultural Streets in China, Harbin’s Central Avenue stood out for its uniquely eclectic mix of European architectural styles. The buildings, in their designs, range from European Renaissance to Baroque, 18th-century neoclassical to 19th-century Art Nouveau. In other words, this single street exhibits nearly 300 years of western architectural history.
Haikou’s Qilou Old Street is the most impressive example of arcade architecture in all of China. To some extent, it is also the symbol of Haikou. The Qilou area has witnessed the many vicissitudes that have affected the city in the past century; it has also benefitted – architecturally and commercially – from the deeply-rooted love felt for their home town by the overseas Chinese from Southeast Asia.
At the east end of Guozijian Street, is the famous Lama Temple. Here, the perfumed aroma of sandalwood from incense shops fills the air. But as you head westward, towards the Confucius Temple and Imperial College, the distinctive smell of old books prevails. It was at the Temple that the emperors would pay homage to Confucius.