The newly opened (Sep 2005) Huguang Guild Hall is one of the most interesting sightseeing spots in Chongqing.
During the early Qing-Dynasty there lived only about 800.000 people in Sichuan Province. So people frm Hunan, Hubei, Guangdong and other provinces were invited to settle in Sichuan and develop the country. (incredible, isn't it?!) Those migrants all build their own guildhalls. The hUguang Guild Hall was built by people from Hubei and Guangdong Provinces. Here they had a location for business, culture and social affairs.
The now renovated halls and rooms are about 300 years old. Many theatres, opera-stages and temple-halls can be seen. Some of the rooms are turned into a migration museum. Visitors can see and buy local handicrafts.
I really enjoyed the solemn atmosphere of the ancient halls, which are surrounded by modern highrise buildings.
Right in the city center/Yuzhong district you can find the Luohan Si or Arhat Temple. It is supposed to be mire than 1000 years old. And yes, if Chinese leave a central spot between all those scyscrapers unused, it must be something special. Inside there are several buildings and little temples. One building shows about hundred different Buddha figures.
BeiBei is a one hour drive from the City center/Yuzhong District. Here you can climb up the famous Lions Peak. Bamboo woods, green trees and a nice view (if not too cloudy;)
There are also some nice relaxing hot wells in BeiBei - take a rest!
Situated in Chongqing municipality, Dazu is know as the Hometown of Rock Carvings. Cliffside carvings born in the Tang and Song dynasties spread all over the county, with as many as 74 cultural and historical relics under protection of the state, province or the municipality. The carvings consist of more than 60 thousand figures, most of which are concentrated in the two big grottoes, Beishan and Baodingshan, both under state protection.
The Yangtze is one of the world's major rivers, and nowhere is it more breathtakingly beautiful than in the Qutang, Wuxia and Xiling Gorges south of the city, where magnificent scenery, historical sites and the construction of an enormous power project all provide visitor highlights.
The primary architectural symbol of Chongqing, this magnificent building is one of the most photographed structures in China. It is designed in the traditional symmetrical and beautifully proportioned style of Ming and Qing Dynasty palaces and contains a 4,000-seat auditorium.
The exhibits in this museum span an amazing three millennia of Chongqing's local history ranging from the ancient Kingdom of Ba and the near-mythical Three Kingdoms Period to World War Two and the Chinese Revolution, and also include large areas devoted to the region's natural history.
Chongqing's North Hot Springs are in the city itself, in a large park by the Jialing River, where more than 40 baths and three Olympic-sized swimming pools are constantly filled with 38°C water. Similar facilities are available at the South Hot Springs, about 20 km south of the city.
This residence was once the home of former Premier Zhou Enlai and the wartime headquarters of the Chinese Communist Party and the Eighth Route Army. Its importance in modern history is illustrated by a collection of artifacts and memorabilia.
This busy bridge is a key infrastructural link, and for many years was one of the few routes connecting Chongqing with the rest of China. Completed in 1996, it is 150 metres long and 60 metres above the Jialing River, affording good views of river traffic and the city.
Chongqing's harbour, where the Yangtze and Jialing rivers meet, is one of the busiest commercial ports in China. Here you can see modern river transport mingling with traditional junks and sampans, illustrating the importance of modern Chongqing as an industrial and transport centre.
First built during the Tang Dynasty, and reconstructed and enlarged during the Northern Song Dynasty by Emperor Zhiping. Later still, in Emperor Qianlong's reign it was again enlarged and dedicated to the Dragon God. Finally in the mid 1880's the Arhat's Hall was built, to hold 500 clay arhats.
In 1942, a Japanese bomb destroyed the entire compex, but it was rebuilt quickly and restored to its former glory.
The entrance to the temple is up a narrow gully, in which more than 400 Song Dynasty statues of Buddha are arranged, protected now by a gallery roof.
The temple itself has specific treasures, including a mural of Sakyamuni's visit to Myanmar, and three bronze statues of the Western Saints. It has also become a major repository for Buddhist scriptures.
This is an active, crowded, living temple, and there is always a bonfire of candles and offerings in the courtyard.
Sitting above People's (Renmin) Square is the People's Hall, one of Chongqings more unusual buildings.
The People's Hall complex is bigger than it looks, as it is half as big again as the massive square. It was built between 1951 and 1954, at a time when Deng Xiaoping was very influential in the city. It is suggested that the structure was 'his baby'. At the time, Chongqing was very dear to the hearts of the Communist Party, and there was a real desire to lift this Sichuan backwater to a higher position among the pecking order of Chinese cities. The People's Hall was to be the symbol of the war-ravaged, heavily-bombed city.
It is modelled on Beijing's Temple of Heaven, and from the outside, the green glazed roof, circular structure and red pillars are impressive. Inside the architectural techniques for holding the roof up are a bit more prosaic, with acres of steelwork and trusses.
The hall can hold more than 5,000 people, and the acoustics are reputed to be superb. As always it is suggested that someone whispering on the stage can be heard at the back. Perhaps....
This building, for me, symbolises what 'could have been' for China from the early 1950s, a bright new spirit of reconstruction and movement forward. Alas, it was not to be.
Today, the People's Hall gets regularly used for concerts, ballet and ceremonies: it would be good to be able to enjoy it to musical accompaniment, but you can get in for a small fee on any day.
If there is one place that Chongqing people go to appreciate the recent development of Chongqing into a big city, it is in the ampitheatre of Renmin Square. If the commercial hub of the city is around the Liberatin Monument, the civic and cultural centre is here, outside the People's Hall on the huge plaza.
Trees line the marble square, and novelty fountains dance alongside the steps. At the far end, the traffic roars past the site of the new Chongqing Museum and the Three Gorges Museum.
On the slopes above, new blocks rise,hemming the square in.
All day and for much of the night, the square is humming with people, walking, sitting, chatting and just soaking up the atmosphere in that uniquely Chinese way: just walking doing very little, but enjoying the day.
The Residue Prison in Chongqing
The Residue Prison was originally a private coal mine. Later, due to its location in a hidden part difficult to access, the head of KMT's secret service Dai Li converted it into a prison. The White Palace Residence, a one-time guesthouse of the KMT's Bureau of Investigation and Statistics, was also converted into a prison. The two prisons were meant for political prisoners Communists and others. Men and women of several political groups fighting the Koumintang were housed and tortured here. The prison cells with torture devices can be seen. What is more impressive are the individual stories told with photos and letters of the men and women that died there. At 4 pm on November 27, 1949, as the Communists prepared an assault on the city, the KMT guards at Residue Jail started using machine guns when the prisoners were told to leave the cells, they were being moved. They finished their task by shooting with pistols and setting fire to the place to cover up the atrocities committed. Some 180 prisoners were shot, while 15 escaped from a hole in the outer wall of the prison. This incident is known as the November 27 Massacre in the history of the Chinese Communist Party. The prisoners had formed a poets group and some of the poems written on small pieces of paper were found where the dying had tossed them into the grass. I was told that new trainees in the Chinese army are sent here to learn the spirit of those that fought to change China.