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Tianjin Brief Introduction

Updated:2008-06-11 19:03 | Source:

Tianjin, or "Jin" in hip locals speak, or "Diamond of the Bohai Gulf" in chamber of commerce terms, prates as China's fourth largest city, with a staggering nine million citizens. Simultaneously gritty and vibrant, it is a city just beginning to realize its tourism potential. New swanky four and five star hotels decorate the downtown skyline with sophisticated pizzazz, while scrupulous parks and gardens along the Hai River challenge Tianjin's industrial image. Ancient temples and pagodas, and elaborate colonial buildings are no longer blights of neglect, but instead prized pieces of its past turned into the type of brochure-like attractions that prompt tourists to snap several photos of and describe in their journals as "fabulous" with three exclamation points. Plus, its surrounding mountains to the north access, among other jaw-stretching things, China's famous Great Wall. Keep in mind, however, that unlike some of the tourist-first coastal cities, Tianjin's attractions are widely dispersed. They tend to get lost in the city's overwhelming size and fist-shaking traffic, making it less than accommodating for "see-it-all" organized tours. Tianjin, like many other Chinese coastal cities, harbors a history heavy with military squabbles. Following the Opium Wars in the mid-1800s Great Britain, Russia, France and Japan swarmed through its streets and claimed residency. Though a source of local loathing, it did color the city with a mosaic wonder of architectural influences. During the first half of the 1900s, Tianjin was cursed with three successive wars (The Democratic Revolution in 1911, the Anti-Japanese War 1937-1948, and the Civil War 1948), replacing the entrepreneurial motivations of economic progress with the limiting visions of day-to-day survival. It was not until after Mao's Cultural Revolution ended in 1969 that Tianjin began to grow and expand economically. But disaster, in the form of a king-mean earthquake, struck in 1976, killing close to 250,000 people and crumbling much of the city's antiquated infrastructure. Eventual economic relief came when Chinese officials allowed Tianjin to open its proverbial closed doors to foreign investors. Since then, it has become the largest seaport in northern China. Tourism, though growing, remains a mere subplot to Tianjin's industrial focus.

Tianjin is divided into six city districts:

Heping Also known as the Peace District, it functions as the city's main stage for human activity. As the former concession area for Great Britain and France, its streets are lined with a weird mix of contemporary skyscrapers and wow-look-at-that colonial buildings. Visitors can choose between the ultra-modern Renaissance Tianjin Hotel or the wonderfully regal looking Tianjin First Hotel built in 1922. Both provide quick access to some of Tianjin's most famous restaurants including the Bader Brauhaus and the Goubili Restaurant. The Tianjin Concert Hall, the Art Museum, the Catholic Church and famous Ancient Culture Street are all within its confines as well.

Hebei Located north of Heping, it almost feels calm compared to downtown's hypersonic pace. The four-star Holiday Inn and the Ocean Hotel are its prized room and board sites. Both are within walking distance of Ancient Culture Street and the architecturally impressive Notre Dame des Victories. Beining Park is relatively close too (relative as in hop in a taxi) and is highlighted by the Zhiyuan Pagoda.

Hongqiao Situated northwest of downtown it is best known for where visitors go to snap photos of the Grand Mosque. Otherwise, there is little else to see from a tourist's perspective.

Hexi Formerly a German colony during Tianjin's "concession years" this district now boasts some of the area's best lodging options including the Sheraton Tinajin Hotel, the city's only five star, the impossibly huge Tianjin Grand Hotel, and the impressive Geneva Hotel. Out of all its dining options, however, the Quanjude Roast Duck Factory ranks as its most popular. It is one of the only restaurants in Tianjin that serves authentic Beijing duck.

Nankai Nestled south of downtown it is best known for housing Tianjin University and Nankai University, as well as Tianjin's famously scenic Shuishang Park.

Hedong Besides the Royal Court Restaurant decorated in the manner of an ancient Chinese palace, this district offers little else in the way of tourism options.

Editor : Zhu Xinrui

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