Many individuals travel to China to see two cities, Beijing and Shanghai. Beijing for the Ming — Qing dynasty history and Shanghai for the cosmopolitan atmosphere and skyscrapers. They are all truly missing out on the historical gem of China, Nanjing. Nanjing is about 1.5 hours by train west of Shanghai and has some of the best-preserved historical sites in China. Many people aren’t aware that Nanjing was the genesis of the Ming Dynasty.
Being that Nanjing is the starting point of the Ming dynasty, much of the architecture of the traditional imperial buildings in Nanjing are the basis for what was later built in Beijing . Emperor Zhu Yuan Jiang’s ,Ming Xiao Ling has the most authentic feel of any of the imperial memorial sites you’ll see throughout China. The city wall of Nanjing is also circa Ming Dynasty and rivals that of Xi’an, in my opinion topping it due to its immediate surroundings being Xuanwu lake, one of the largest city lakes in China.
Nanjing was also the capital during the Tai ping rebellion where the Christian leader Hong Xiu Quan led a revolt in the name of Christianity against the Chinese imperial army. There are also several sites to commemorate him and the time period throughout Nanjing.
Not to be outdone ，right next door to the Ming Xiao Ling is Zhong Shan park and Sun Yat Sen’s memorial ( the first democratic leader of China ). The memorial sits at the top of a large man hill with hundreds of impressively designed steps leading up to the peak. The peak also provides sweeping views of the city and Zhong Shan park.
Finally, take a trip to the perfectly preserved home of Sun Yat Sen, also within the confines of the park, where many foreign dignitaries held company with the then leader of China. All in all, for efficiency of travel within the context of getting from historical site to site and for preservation of the sites, Nanjing wins in my book for all these factors. Highly recommended!