Xintiandi Shikumen ‘stone gate’ Housing
Shikumen ‘stone gate’ housing is a special old type of residence in Shanghai that first appeared in the mid-1800’s. During the uprising of the “Taiping Heavenly Kingdom”(1851 to 1864), large numbers of people from Shanghai and neighboring Jiangsu and Zheijiang provinces sought safety in the city’s foreign concessions. The need for housing increased dramatically in the foreign concessions as people poured into the city; mostly Chinese and white Russians seeking refuge. Wealthy merchants were encouraged to build more housing. The Shikumen design allowed better use of the available land; the style a combination of Western and Chinese influence.
Photo – An original Shanghainese long tang – a labyrinth of alleys lined with Shikumen houses courtesy Red – redhongyi.com.
The Shikumen housing is built along narrow alleys (or “long tangs”) and feature a stone gate framing a black wooden front door that leads into a small enclosed courtyard. This type of housing gave people a feeling of security from outside forces during the time of the Tiapang rebellion. “Shikumen” housing became a symbol of East meeting West in Shanghai. In a typical Long Tang neighborhood, neighbors lived closely together like extended families. Residents from differing backgrounds, professions and education, co-existed together in the long tang neighborhoods.
The Shikumen Museum is an original ‘Shikumen-style “stone-gate” house from the early 1900’s that represents lifestyle in Shanghai at the time. It is interesting to visit this old house, it was all a bit dark, entrance and kitchen on the ground floor, narrow stairs to a second floor, bedrooms, study, living room upstairs.
Dark timber period furniture from 1920’s, an interesting Chinese four poster bed (love the bed), and memorabilia of the period. A feature of the house is a tingzijian room, a small triangular room on the second floor, sometimes rented out at a low price to impoverished writers or scholars.
No. 25, Lane 181, Tai Cang Road, Shanghai (Near the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of China)
Opening times: Sun – Thu 10.30 – 22.30, Fri & Sat 11.00 – 23.00
Admission: Adults: CNY20; Over 60’s – CNY10; Children under 12 years – CNY10.
The Shikumen Museum is on the south side of the North Block of Xintiandi, Xingye Road. Xingye Road is the road that divides the two Xintiandi blocks.
Modern Shikumen style housing – Xintiandi
Xintiandi on the north block is attractive area with Shikumen style housing, brick paved alleyways, red and grey brick wall, heavy ebony black door, flowering garden beds or pot plants. Some of the Shikumen style buildings no longer houses, boutique type shops of varying types on the ground floor, and an amazing array of first class restaurants in this area as well. Restaurants specializing in foreign cuisine from all over the world – French, Brazilian, German, Taiwanese, Japanese and more.
South Block Xintiandi
The South block is a huge glass walled complex of ultra modern attractive restaurants and cafe’s for international dining. Fashion boutiques, accessory shops, art galleries, movie theater and shops for entertainment and leisure. The complex covers 25,000 square metres.
Gentlemen’s Club – French Concession area
In the Xintiandi – French Concession area is an attractive colonial style building from the 1930’s, originally a Gentleman’s Club or Private Club, not sure what it is now, possibly a Shanghainese restaurant. It has a simple elegance still attractive among the newer modern restaurants in the Shikumen area. Certainly kept in good repair, lovely gardens enhanced with beautiful red maples.
Address:`200 Yongfu Road, near Hunan Road,Xintiandi.
Museum of First Congress Hall of the Communist Party of China
Xingye Road, the dividing line between the North and the South blocks of Xintiandi is the site of the Museum of the First Congress Hall of the Communist Party of China.The First National Communist Party Congress took place in this building on 23rd July,1921. The Museum has exhibits about the history of China and Shanghai and events surrounding the foundation of the Chinese Communist Party. Nearby is Tai Ping Qiao Park, Shanghai’s largest man-made lake in the center of Xintiandi.
Museum Admission is Free
Opening hours: 9.00 am -5pm
Xingye Road, Xintiandi
Following our visit to Xintiandi, the Shikumen Museum and ‘stone gate’ housing area, we stopped off for coffee at a very brightly decorated Cafe ‘The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf”. A walk back through the streets of Shanghai,some nicely laid out streets with garden beds and seating in the upmarket areas (by this time of day I’d actually lost track of where we were exactly). One more stop, the Xaing Yang Markets, last chance for souvenirs, a huge market with brand names etc., lots of bargaining. Personally I was a bit over markets, but others enjoyed it immensely.
Nice to get back to the Rendezvous Hotel for a hot shower and feet up for half an hour before heading out for a last get together dinner of the trip. Not the best view from our window this time, however we had done well with our views overall. The view nevertheless quite interesting, major construction happening below in an adjoining allotment. We could see the progress being made every day and also watch the traffic buildup on the freeway during peak hours.
We dined at Shanghai Tony Restaurant, delicious chrysanthemum tea, a very nice meal, locally brewed ‘Tsingtao’ beer, a good night out. Sad farewells, a really nice group of people to share our adventures with and a marvelous 14 day trip through China with TravelIndoChina. Tomorrow Shanghai airport, onto Kl for a few hours before returning to Oz.
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