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Nanjing History

Nanjing, a city surrounded by mountains, rivers and green trees, is an ancient metropolis of ten different dynasties.

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, the ancestors of Nanjing residents lived in caves at Tangshan Hill. Then 5,000 to 6,000 years ago, some of them came to the tableland near rivers and made a living by fishing, hunting and farming.

Nanjing took shape at the confluence of the Changjiang (Yangtze) River and Qinhuaihe River. About 2,500 years ago, Goujian, King of Yue State, built a city alongside the Qinhuaihe River and named it Yuecheng. Later ChuState built Jinling at the foot of Qingliangshan Hill. Yuecheng and Jinling were the embryonic forms of Nanjing.

The Stone Hill, rushed by the Yangtze River from Southwest, is a significant military location. Sunquan, King of Wu State, had his military fortress built here and named it the Stone City, which is also called the Ghost Face City due to its grotesque shape. Ever since then, Jinling and Shitou (Stone) City have been the ancient aliases of Nanjing.

The Six Dynasties Period (from the beginning of the 3rd century to the end of the 6th century) was the most prosperous time of ancient Nanjing. After the downfall of Western Jin, North China was reigned by chieftains of some nomads. A lot of aristocrats, men of letters, craftsmen migrated to the south of China, which promoted the development of local culture, economy and technology. As the centre of Chinese traditional culture moved southward, Nanjing became the biggest city of that time and a new culture center in ancient China.

In the late of the Six Dynasties Period, Yang Jian and Yang Guang, the emperors of the Sui Dynasty destroyed many cultural relics. Only 20 stone carvings in front of some tombs in the suburbs survived in this disaster, which are the world renowned Stone Casings of the Southern Dynasties.

The Nanjing City Wall built 600 years ago is the cultural remains of the Ming Dynasty. The outer wall made of earth is 180 li (90 kilometers) in circumference, the inner city wall made of blue bricks, porcelain bricks and huge stones are 67 li (33.5kilometers). Nanjing is the largest walled city in the world. The Zhonghua Gate with four arched gates and three partitioned strongholds is the biggest citadel in the world.

In the outer southern suburbs of the city, there stands a natural rock bridge over Yanzhihe River, which is a canal cloven through a rocky hill for transporting cereals.

There are a lot of relics of the Ming Dynasty in the urban area and suburbs, such as Zhu Yuanzhang's Mausoleum, Drum Tower, Wumen Gate, Shencemen Gate, Zhanyuan Garden, Mochou Lake, Yangshan Stele, Tianfeigong Stele, Panchi Pool whose water comes from the Qinhuaihe River and the Screen Wall at the Confucius Temple.

The voyage to the West led by Zheng He, a navigator of the Ming Dynasty, initiated the navigation and shipbuilding industry in China. Nanjing was both the start and the end of his voyage. The sea-going ship built in Nanling Longjiang Shipyard is the largest in the ancient world. It’s 150 meters long, 60 meters wide with loading capacity of more than 9,000 tons. The fleet with 27,000 staffs and 62 ships was the biggest ocean fleet in the world at that time.

Guozijian was the highest educational institution in ancient China where the Southeast University was established a century ago. Yongle Canon, the earliest and most detailed encyclopedia in the world, was compiled right here. This encyclopedia consists of 30,000 volumes. Most of the handwritten copies were ruined in wars.

The wood block for printing is excellent workmanship in ancient Nanjing. The Jinling Scripture Block CuttingCenter set up by Yang Renshan is the only extant publishing house of wood block for printing of Buddhist scriptures in China.

The cultural relics related to Dr. Sun Yat-sen include the Parliament Building where Dr. Sun Yat-sen was elected Provisional President; the President Mansion of the Republic and the Xuyuan Garden, Zhongshanling (Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Mausoleum at the southern foothill of Zijinshan Hill) and Zhongshan Grand Road.

Nanjing is richly endowed by nature. On Guizishan Hill, there are colossal stone pillars composed of pentahedron or hexahedron crystalline rock columns which took shape some 10 million years ago. On the tableland along theYangtze River, there are numerous rain flower pebbles. In the Eastern Suburbs, there lies the Tangshan Hot Spring.

The modern new Nanjing is the economic and cultural center in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, and welcome friends in and out of China.

Last Updated on Thursday, 06 September 2012 11:58