Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

Nanjing,The City of Glaring History and Culture

Mindy Lu's picture

Yijing Lu

Nanjing is a wonderland where my hometown located. I am, actually, extremely proud to introduce this city as my birthplace, because this beautiful city absorbs me deeply due to the fact that Nanjing is not only covered with atmosphere of long history and flourishing culture, but also full of scenic spots and historical sites where I visited for several times with my parents and friends when I was young. To be honest, I am a girl who loves to research Chinese culture and traditions. Thus, in this paper, I am willing to introduce this city from the perspective of history and culture, and, of course, the relationship to me.


Under the Edification of History

Nanjing is a historic city which was chosen as the capital of China in ten more dynasties during the whole Chinese history. (details are showed in the following form)


Due to the fact that Nanjing is carrying massive history, several main streets and roads in Nanjing are named after the Used Name of the City as a kind of commemoration of the long history, such as Jian Ye Road, Jian Kang Road, and so on. Every time when I walk on those roads, I think about the stories and the heroes of those dynasties, and feel that all the sceneries of the roads around me are covered with historical mystery.

 At the center of the city, Xin Jie Kou, there is a statue of Sun yat-sen(1). Mr. Sun, who was the President during the period that Republic of China, has always been admired by the Chinese people for his achievement of abolishing the feudal system of the ancient China. Nowadays, the statue of Sun yat-sen has become the symbol of Nanjing.

 My home is also located in Xin Jie Kou. I know that it may be a little bit strange to live with surrounding shopping malls of various sorts. But my parents and I feel that it is convenient because it is close to my father’s company, and my mother loves shopping! And, to me, although it is a modern commercial district now, I can still feel the atmosphere of the history, and in my opinion, that is why Nanjing is so charming! There are buildings which conserved since the times of Republic of China everywhere. For example, there is a historic cinema called Da Hua (1), which means the great China. It still opens normally and has developed to become a famous 4D cinema in Nanjing. I, more often than not, enjoy the amazing feeling of sitting in such an historic building and watching the Transformers at the same time.

 Additionally, Ming Xiao Ling (2), one of the most famous scenic spots in Nanjing, was the mausoleum of the emperor of Ming dynasty. I still remember that my high school history teacher once brought us to Ming Xiao Ling as both a spring outing and inquiry learning, and we quite enjoyed our study experience when we had a trip in such beautiful sceneries. In fact, for all of tourists who visit there, Ming Xiao Ling not only lets them to enjoy their holidays, but also provides them opportunities to absorb the knowledge about the history of Ming dynasty.

 Moreover, there are also many other historic sites in Nanjing where I have ever visited, such as the museum of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (3), Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum (4), Ming City Wall (5) and so many buildings left over from the period of Republic of China. They are all full of historical value. Living in Nanjing, I feel that I am at an area where is full of interesting stories and histories instead of rigid living facilities.

 Rich Cultural Flavor

 It rarely astonishes us that a historic city, every so often, keeps its own culture that covers the aspects of literature, cuisine, folktales and so on.

 To start with, my favorite novel, A Dream of Red Mansion, which I read in my high school, is one of the Four Great Classics Novels in China. This book not only has high value of literature which makes many researchers analyze it for decades of years, but also recorded and even created special culture of Nanjing. This book talks about stories with the background in Nanjing (named Jinling at that time). The famous “Twelve Beauties of Jinling” and “The Grand View Garden” from the book are designed into patterns of fans, umbrellas, screens, and curtains that sold everywhere in Nanjing as special cultural features. For instance, my sister, a little girl who loves Chinese literature, has collected many bookmarks printed with illustrations of “A Dream of Red Mansion”. These years, the government of Nanjing is building a real “The Grand View Garden” (6) in downtown, and I plan to bring my sister there after the opening.

 Moreover, a lot of descriptions of dishes and snacks that represent the main style of Nanjing cuisines appear in this novel, which makes this specialty of Nanjing become famous all around the country and even the whole world. My grandmother is almost able to do all the dishes of Nanjing cuisines, and, in my mind, the happiest moment for me is to enjoy the dishes made by my grandmother. And the snacks in Nanjing are even more attractive than the dishes. The small basket buns and water chestnut cakes are both my favorite ones. And those days I shared such snacks with all my best friends are extraordinarily precious memories for me during my whole life.

 The book A Dream of Red Mansion has another name called The Story of the Stone, for the simple reason that Nanjing is called The City of Stone. The stone here is the Rain Flower Stones, which are also a kink of specialties of Nanjing with a romantic folktale that has been spread since the Southern Dynasties, Liang. It says that the Rain Flower Stone, as its name implies, came from the flower rains,which made by a monk who got high achievement of Buddhism. Nowadays, Chinese people consider Rain Flower Stones as gifts from the god and the best wishes for lives. Rain Flower Stones are beautiful and colorful stones that can be used as decorations, materials, tools of regimen and so on. In my family, my parents usually use Rain Flower Stones to decorate glass vases and goldfish bowl. In addition, there is a theme park of Rain Flower Stones located in Nanjing called Terrance of Raining Flowers (7), where I usually go with my friends to have a picnic in the fantastic sceneries.


Map of Nanjing

 I choose the map of Nanjing as the required image, because it shows my footprints of searching the history and culture about Nanjing, and it also can be a guide for people who is interested in Nanjing.

 I have marked the location of spots I mentioned before on the map:

(1)  statue of Sun yat-sen and Da Hua Cinema

(2)  Ming Xiao Ling

(3)  the museum of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom

(4)  Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum

(5)  Ming City Wall

(6)  “The Grand View Garden”

(7)  Terrance of Raining Flowers



 As far as I concerned, the long history, instead of Yangzi River, makes Nanjing flourish; the glorious culture, instead of Zifeng Tower, makes Nanjing unique.

 Growing up in Nanjing, a city with abundant history and culture, I established deep friendship with it. Whatever it looks like, it has its own style and special feeling to me, which cannot be replaced forever.