A stroll through modern-day Guangzhou will reveal a wealth of glitzy international malls, fragrant local eateries, trendy youth meandering through the lively shopping and nightlife districts and the general hustle and bustle of a booming Chinese city. But among the city's thriving streets lie a number of buildings of major historical significance: former residences of famous and influential figures from China's past. Brush up on local history and visit these five former residences in Guangzhou.
1) Lu Xun Memorial Hall
Lu Xun (September 25, 1881 – October 19, 1936) is one of the greatest Chinese writers of the 20th century. Though he was an influential essayist, he is probably best known for his collection of short stories which present his personal vision of Chinese society through vivid analogies and colourful characters. Born in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province, Lu Xun lived at 215 Wenming Road in Guangzhou from February to September in 1927. While living here, Lu penned an impressive 43 essays, ten translated articles and 180 letters.
The memorial hall, which was once Zhongshan University, occupies 1,900 square meters and displays his bedroom (which also doubled up as his work space), emergency meeting room and registry office. Visitors can also see manuscripts and other historical items as well as learn about Lu Xun's revolutionary deeds.
Getting there: take bus No. 11, 40, 54, 65, 80, 184, 222 or 236 to Yuexiu Zhonglu (越秀中路)
2) The Former Residence of Zhan Tianyou
Zhan Tianyou (26 April 1861 – 24 April 1919), "the father of China's railroad", was responsible for the first railroad constructed in China without foreign assistance (from Beijing to Zhangjiakou). A Guangzhou-native, Zhan was chosen to study in America at the age of 12 and graduated from Yale University with a BA in civil engineering. Upon his return, Zhan's contribution to China's railway development cannot be understated.
The quaint former residence at 42 Yacai Lane includes a small garden that adjoins the neighboring primary school, and displays a large number of historical artefacts including a bell used on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou railway, drawing instruments used by Zhan, ink containers, calligraphy books and numerous documents hand-written by Zhan himself.
Getting there: take metro line 1 to Huangsha station, exit B. Alternatively, take bus No, 2, 3 or 8 to Enning Lu (恩宁路)
3) The Memorial Museum Of Generalissimo Sun Yat-sen's Mansion
This nationally protected cultural heritage site was the former residence of Sun Yat-sen, the "father of China's republic revolution". During his time at this mansion, Sun made a number of political decisions that had far-reaching consequences for the political and historical course of China. From here, he initiated the Constitutional Protection Movement, suppressed the Armed Rebellion of the Guangzhou Merchants Group and perhaps most significantly, envisioned the first cooperation between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang.
Spread over 8020 square meters, the memorial museum is comprised of two Western-style buildings with a square in the west and a gate tower. It houses a permanent exhibition that includes photos and archives, but temporary themed exhibitions also tend to be held here from time to time.
Getting there: take bus No. 8, 11, 24, 121a, 121, 131a, 131b, 182 or b21 to Dayuan Shuaifu (大元帅府站)
4) Deng Shichang Memorial Hall
Deng Shichang (1849 - 17 September 1894), a Guangzhou native, was a military officer in the late Qing Dynasty, hailed for his courageous battle against the Japanese during the First Sino-Japanese War. After moving up the military ranks, Deng became the commander of the battle cruiser Zhiyuan, which came under Japanese fire on September 17, 1894. After being shelled by the enemies and blowing up in flames, Deng reportedly refused to evacuate the sinking ship and went down together with 245 officers.
The memorial hall is based within the Deng Clan Hall where Deng Shichang was born. The hall displays almost 600 photos, photocopies, sculptures and other artefacts related to the war hero. The courtyard also contains a peanut tree planted by Deng himself and a well.
Getting there: take bus No. 53, 113, 121a, 121, 243, 244a, 244, 250, 270, 273, 527, 530 or b8 to Baogang Dadao Zhong (宝岗大道中)
5) Museum of the Western Han Dynasty Mausoleum of the Nanyue King
This mouthful of a museum is dedicated to Zhao Mo (137 BC – 122 BC), the second King of Nanyue. In 1983 an impressive, well-preserved tomb was discovered 20 meters underground, constructed of 750 large stone slabs. At over 2100 years old, the tomb is the most important historical find in the region and the number of jade artefacts uncovered from the tomb is the largest ever found.
Nowadays, the museum is comprised of the original tomb and two exhibition buildings that cover 14,000 square meters of floor space. On display are over 10,000 artefacts including the above mentioned jade, as well as pottery, porcelain and ancient kilns. As well as exhibiting the treasures of the tomb, the museum has become an important educational center to learn about the history of Guangzhou, with regular temporary exhibitions held to promote knowledge of the region.
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