Tianjin (120 kilometers southeast of Beijing) is China's forth largest city after Shanghai, Beijing and Chongqing and is the largest port and coastal city in northern China. Situated in the northeast of the North China Plain on the Bohai Sea, it is a big industrial city and a growing transportation hub with a population of about 15.6 million people. In 1995 the population was 10.7 million. In 2025 it is expected to be 19.5 million.
Tiānjīn (also spelled Tientsin) is one of the five national central cities of the People's Republic of China (PRC). It is governed as one of the four direct-controlled municipalities of the PRC, and is thus under direct administration of the central government. Tianjin is a dual-core city, with its main urban area (including the old city) located along the Hai River, which connects to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers via the Grand Canal; and Binhai, a New Area urban core located east of the old city, on the coast of Bohai Sea.
Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing are direct-administered municipalities — municipalities under the direct administration of the central government in Beijing and have the same rank as provinces. A municipality is a "city" (“shì”) with "provincial" (shěngjí) power under a unified jurisdiction. As such it is simultaneously a city and a province of its own right. A municipality is often not a "city" in the usual sense of the word term but instead is an administrative unit with a main central urban area at its core and much larger surrounding area containing rural areas, smaller cities (districts and subdistricts), towns and villages.
Tianjin covers an area over 12,000 square kilometers and is a municipality along with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing. Called “Jin” for short, Tianjin borders Hebei Province and Beijing Municipality. The Bohai Sea, also called the Bohai Gulf, is portion of the Yellow Sea. Tianjin kind of merges with Beijing in a similar fashion as Tokyo with Yokohama or Washington D.C. with Baltimore or Shanghai with Suzhou. Tianjin is regarded as an educational center. It is the home of Nankai University (founded 1919), one of the most prestigious universities in China, Tianjin University (founded 1895) the oldest university in China.
Tianjin contained British, French, German and Belgian concessions in the middle and late 19th century, and was seized during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900. The city has achieved something of a rebirth in recent years. It is the destination of China's first bullet train (from Beijing) and the home of a new Airbus factory and a new airport. It is expected to grow and prosper more in coming years as the epicenter of China's electric car industry. Maps of Tianjin: chinamaps.org
Industrial and Commercial Tianjin
Tianjin is a major commercial and industrial city with a busy port cargo terminal, a free trade zone, and easy access to Beijing, Hong Kong, South Korea and Japan. As of the end of 2010, around 285 Fortune 500 companies have set up base in Binhai, which is a new growth pole in China and is a hub of advanced industry and financial activity. Since the mid-19th century, Tianjin has been a major seaport and gateway to the nation's capital.
Tianjin Port is both a river and sea port and lies in the heart of a 2,270 square kilometers industrial zone called Tianjin Bonhai New Area. Lined with cranes unloading containers from ships around the clock, it handled 4.8 million containers and 240 million tons of total weight in 2005. Under the Communists it was known for its stinky state-owned factories producing steel, chemicals, textiles and papers. Many foreign companies gave a presence here. Among them are Toyota, Samsung and Motorola. Airbus plans to assemble 320 jets here.
Tianjin is part of the Bohai Economic Rim, or "Rim", a mega-metropolitan area — like the Tri-State area of New York or even the Washington D.C.-to- Boston corridor — that includes major cities in region near Bohai Sea. A network of expressways and high- speed rail lines links Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Shenyang, Jinan, Qingdao, Weihai and other major cities in the region. Cities in the Rim are major manufacturing, science and technology centers. Existing transport routes in the "Rim" provide rapid transport options. Heavy truck traffic is common on roads linking cities.
Geography and Climate of Tianjin
Tianjin simply known as Jin is situated in the northeastern part of North China Great Plain, bordering the Bohai Sea in the east, Yuanshan Mountain in the north, with its terrain traversing the Haihe River through north and south. It has become the hub of communications of North China and the gateway of the capital city.
Tianjin is located along the western side of the Bohai Sea (also called Bohai Gulf). Shandong and Liaoning provinces lie across the gulf. Tianjjin borders Beijing to the northwest. Except for this border and the Bohai Sea, Tianjin is surrounded on all sides by Hebei Province. Tianjin has a total area of 11,861 square kilometers (4,579 square miles). There is 153 kilometers (95 miles) of coastline and 1,137 kilometers (707 miles) of land borders.
The municipality of Tianjin is generally flat, and swampy near the coast, but hilly in the far north, where the Yan Mountains intrude into northern Tianjin. The highest point in the municipality is Jiuding Peak in Ji County on the northern border with Hebei. It is 1,078.5 meters (3,538 feet) high.
Tianjin lies at the northern end of the Grand Canal of China, which connects with the Yellow River and Yangtze River. The Hai River forms within Tianjinside Municipality at the confluence of the Ziya River, Daqing River, Yongding River, North Grand Canal, and South Grand Canal, and enters the Pacific Ocean within the municipality as well, in Tanggu District. Major reservoirs include the Beidagang Reservoir in the extreme south (in Dagang District) and the Yuqiao Reservoir in the extreme north in Ji County.
Tianjin has a four-season, monsoon-influenced climate, typical of East Asia, with cold, windy, very dry winters reflecting the influence of the vast Siberian anticyclone, and hot, humid summers, due to the monsoon. Spring in the city is dry and windy, occasionally experiencing sandstorms blowing in from the Gobi Desert, capable of lasting for several days. Average temperature ranges from −3.5 °C (25.7 °F) in January to 26.6 °C (79.9 °F) in July. There is more sunshine in Tianjing than places further west. The annual total precipitation of 540 millimeters (21.3 in) is relatively low, and nearly three-fifths of it occurring in July and August monsoon period. The lowest recorded temperatures was −22.9 °C (−9 °F); the highest, 40.5 °C (105 °F).
History of Tianjin
In ancient time, Tianjin belonged to the Yan and Qi kingdoms of the Warring States Period (453-221 B.C.). In the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to A.D. 220), the Tinajin region mainly was part of the Yuyang prefecture, Quanzhou county, the Bohai prefecture and Zhangwu county. The original name of Tianjin was "Zhigu". It was changed into Tianjin in early Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). In 1398, Zhu Di dispatched troops from Beijing in the pretext of "pacification of rebellion", and defeated Zhu Yun Wen and became Emperor. In commemoration of the place where he crossed the river moving southward, he renamed the place "Tianjin" by imperial order, meaning "the place from where the emperor crossed the river" and stationed "Tianjin Guards" there. From then on Tianjin is also called "Tianjin Guards". [Source: enorth.com.cn]
Tianjin was built in the 2nd year (1404) of the reign of Emperor Yong Le of the Ming Dynasty Tianjin was a seaport and an important gateway of the capital city during the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). For centuries Tianjin was a military post, having become a garrison town in the second year of the Ming Dynasty.The transport of grain by water to the capital continued to develop and it became the economic center in the north.
In the nineteenth century, the port city caught the attention of the seafaring Western powers, who used the boarding of an English ship by Chinese troops as an excuse to declare war. With well-armed gunboats, they were assured of victory. The Treaty of Tianjin, signed in 1856, gave the Europeans the right to establish nine concessionary bases on the mainland, from which they could conduct trade and sell opium.
In the colonial period many nations, including Belgium and Austria, as well as Britain, France and Germany, had concessions here. These concessions, along the banks of the Hai River, were self-contained European worlds: the French built elegant chateaux and towers, while the Germans constructed red-tiled Bavarian villas. Tensions between the indigenous population and the foreigners exploded in the Tianjin Incident of 1870, when a Chinese mob attacked a French-run orphanage, and again during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, after which the foreigners levelled the walls around the old Chinese city to enable them to keep an eye on its residents. Many of the anti-foreigner groups responsible for the Boxer rebellion were based in Tianjin. Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, lived in Tianjin in an opulent mansion from 1929 to 1931 with Yoshiko Kawashima, the mysterious "Eastern Mata Hari".
Ben Blanchard of Reuters wrote: Tianjin “was a lively trade centre in pre-Communist days, before becoming a grubby backwater overshadowed by its close neighbour the Chinese capital. But investment in Tainjin accelerated” in 2007. Between 2008 and 2011Tianjin saw “more than US$160 billion in fixed asset investment in the development zone housing Yujiapu, billed as China's Manhattan - almost three times the amount spent on China's Three Gorges Dam, one of the nation's most expensive projects. Yujiapu helped Tianjin to record 16.4 percent growth in 2011. But critics see Tianjin as typical of the kind of debt-financed infrastructure splurges that have succeeded in getting politicians noticed inside China's ruling Communist Party but have left behind mixed economic blessings. They say the local government employed cheap state capital and high levels of debt to fund the goal of turning the port city into a global financial centre.” [Source: Ben Blanchard, Reuters, November 21, 2012]
The population of Tianjin was 13,866,009 in 2020; 12,938,224 in 2010; 9,848,731 in 2000; 8,785,402 in 1990; 7,764,141 in 1982; 2,693,831 in 1954; 1,773,000 in 1947; 1,218,000 in 1936-37. [Source: Wikipedia, China Census]
Tourism in Tianjin
Operas are held in Guangdong Guild Hall which features imitation ancient architecture and a stage which reaches into the audience. Guests can have dinner while they watch the show. The theater complex also has a museum. Most of the city's other attraction are tourist factory outlets. They include Number One Carpet Factory, the Special Handicraft workshop and Applied Art Factory which sells brightly colored kites shaped like birds and insects. The Zhou Enlai Memorial Hall is found in Tianjin.
Tourist Office: Tianjin Tourist Office, 18 Youyi Road, Hexi District, 300074 Tianjin China, tel. (0)- 22-2835-8812, fax: (0)- 22-2835-2324 Web Sites: Wikipedia article. Wikipedia ; Wikitravel article Wikitravel ; Tianjin government site tj.gov.cn ; Travel China Guide travelchinaguide.com Maps of Tianjin: chinamaps.org ; Subway Maps: Joho Maps ; Travel Agencies: 1) Tianjin China International Travel Service, Location: 22 Youyi Rd., Tianjin, Tel: 0086--22--28109988; 2) Tianjin China Travel Service, Location: 16 Pingshandao St., Tianjin, Tel: 0086--22--23535288; 3) Tianjin China Youth Travel Service, Location: New Culture Garden, Rongye St., Tianjin, Tel: 0086--22--87308600; 4) Tianjin Zhongmao International Travel Service, Location: 33 Hubei Rd., Tianjin, Tel: 0086--22--23132168
Getting to Tianjin
Tianjin Binhai International airport is located 13 kilometers (8.8 miles) from city center in Zhangguizhuang section of city's Dongli District. Tianjin West Long-distance Bus Station: No. 2, Xiqing Dao, Hongqiao District Tianhuan Long-distance Bus Station: conjunction of Hongqi Lu and Anshan Xidao in Nankai District If you want to drive to Tianjin from Beijing, you can go along Jingjintang highway. If traffic is not an issue the journey takes about one and a half hours.
Xingang Port ( Bin Hai Xin Qu, Tianjin, China, 180 kilometers from Beijing and 50 kilometers from Tianjin) is the main cruise ship port for Beijing. China. The journey to Beijing takes around two to two and half hours. Tianjin Xingang (Tianjin Port) is the biggest man-made port in China. Ships and ferries run to Yantai, Dalian and Longkou in China and Inchon in Korea (every Thursday and Saturday) and Honshu in Japan (every Monday). During high tourism seasons, there are passenger liners from Japan and Europe arriving in Tianjin Xingang. If you want to go to Beijing from Tianjin Xingang, you can take a taxi to Tianjin Train Station and then take trains to Beijing, both fast and convenient. Tianjin Port Inquiring Tel: 022-25213380 Tianjin Port Ticket-selling Tel: 022-23394290
Tianjin Metro and the Beijing-Tianjin Bullet Train
The Tianjin Metro has 155 stations and 6 lines (as of 2019) in the City and the Binhai area..It was is formerly operated by two companies, Tianjin Metro General Corporation and Tianjin Binhai Mass Transit Development Company. However, in 2017, the two companies merged as Tianjin Rail Transit Group Corporation. They are currently under heavy expansion from five to nine lines. strong> Tianjin Subway Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net
Construction work on the Tianjin Metro started in 1970. It was the second metro to be built in China and commenced service in 1984. The total length of track was 7.4 kilometers. The original line is now part of Line 1 of the new metro system. Until 2017, Tianjin Metro General Corporation, operated Lines 1, 2, 3 and 6 and Tianjin Binhai Mass Transit Development Company, operated Lines 5 and 9. Tianjin also has trams. Tianjin Tram Map: Urban Rail urbanrail.net
High speed trains between Beijing and Tianjin went into service just before the Olympics in 2008. The trains reach speeds of 350 kph and connect the two cities in 30 minutes, less than half the previous travel time and a quarter of the time of conventional trains. At the time it was fastest commercial train service in the world, overtaking France's TGV. Two types of train run on the railway, the CRH2m based on Japan's Hayate Shinkansen, and the CRH3, based on technology from Germany's Siemens AG. Regular Bullet-train-style trains running between Beijing and Tianjin reach speeds of about 200 kph. Reserved seats on these trains cost about US$5.50, double the price of slower trains that take about two hours.
China produced its first domestically-developed, high-speed bullet train in December 2007. The streamlined train with a lightweight, aluminum alloy body were put to use on the 115-kilometer line between Beijing and Tianjin. The eight-carriage train seats 600 passengers and the cut the travel between Beijing and Tianjin from 80 minutes to 30 minutes.
There are several railway stations in Tianjin. Tianjin railway station is the main one. The original station was built in 1888. The station was rebuilt from scratch in 1988. The Tianjin Railway Station is also locally called the 'East Station', due to its geographical position. In January 2007, the station began another long-term restructuring project to modernize the facility and as part of the larger Tianjin transport hub project involving Tianjin Metro lines 2, 3, and 9 as well as the Tianjin-Beijing High-speed rail. Tianjin West railway station and Tianjin North railway station are also major railway stations in Tianjin.
The following rail lines go through Tianjin: 1) Jingshan Railway, from Beijing to Shanhai Pass; 2) Jinpu Railway, from Tianjin to Pukou District, Nanjing; 3) Jinji Railway, from Tianjin urban area to Ji County, Tianjin; and 4) Jinba Railway, from Tianjin to Bazhou, Hebei
The inter-city trains between Beijing and Tianjin will begin with the letter C (C stands for interCity). The train numbers range between C2001 C2298: A) C2001 C2198: From Beijing South Station to Tianjin, directly. B) C2201 C2268: From Beijing South Station to Tianjin, with stops at Wuqing Station. C) C2271 C2298: From Beijing South Station to Yujiapu Railway Station of Tianjin. The ticket price is about US$13 for a first-class seat and US$8 for a second-class seat.
Shopping in Tianjin
Darentang Drugstore is one of the renowned time-honored shops in Tianjin. It was originally a branch of Yuejialaopu, which itself was derived from the Tongrentang. Thus, its experiences of Pharmacy and business practices are the same of those of the Tongrentang. Its main products are Cow-bezoar Bolus for Restoration (Angong Niuhuang Wan), Venis and Artery Relieving Pills(Huoluo Dan), and White Phoenix Bolus of Black-bone Chicken ( Wuji Baifeng Wan).
Laomeihua Shoe Shop was founded in 1911 and is known throughout China. It mainly offers shoes for the middle-aged and elderly. The designs of these shoes are diversified and include saddle shoes lined with woollen fabrics, cotton-padded shoes, and pigskin shoes with gum-rubber out soles. All these shoes are very comfortable.
Shengxifu Hattery is a time-honored hat shop and offers many different kinds of headgear. The Shengxifu Hattery, which has been running for about 100 years, puts a high premium on the quality and development of new products, thus adapting swiftlly to market variations. With its trademark of “San Mao”, it has long been responsible for one of China’s most renowned products and its products are sold world-wide.
Quanyechang Department Store (Binjiang Road and Heping road) a famous time-honored store that has been in operation since the 1930s. The department store is a large general merchandise market which mainly focuses on popular commodities and sells medium of high grade goods.
Sights in Tianjin
There aren't that many places of interest in Tianjin to tourists. But that doesn't mean the Chinese government isn't trying to create some.In the late 2000s, a replica of an ancient Chinese street was built. It is a about half a kilometer long and is flanked by shops and decorated with Qing-style architecture, carved bricks and water color painting. The shops sell cultural relics, antiques, calligraphy materials, dragon kites and brick inscriptions as well as two crafts for which the city is famous: Yangliuqing New Year Pictures and Zhang's colorful terra-cotta figurines.
Otherwise Tianjin 600 year history have left it with a unique mix old Chinese, colonial European and modern Chinese- and Western-style building. In its downtown area you can find the Water Amusement Park, Heavenly Queen Palace, Dabei Buddhist Temple and Grand Mosque as well as steel, concrete and glass skyscrapers. Though large swaths of the city have been redeveloped, some of the colonial architecture has been placed under protection.
Heavenly Queen Palace (on the Ancient Cultural Street) is commonly known as Goddess Palace. Said to be the oldest architectural complex in Tianjin, it is home of the now the Tianjin Museum of Folk customs. On the 23rd day of the third lunar month every year, the birthday of the Heavenly Queen, some folk activities are held here, such as land boats, local dramas and dragon lanterns.
Memorial Hall of Zhou Enlai and Deng Yingchao was opened to the public on the eve of the 100th birthday of Zhou Enlai on February 28, 1998. It is composed of the Preface Hall, Biography hall, Hall of Letters, Hall of Artistic Objects, Film and TV Hall, Multi-function Hall, Vip Hall, Hall of Books and Data, Cultural Relics Warehouse and Document Research Center.
Museum of History of Tianjin (4 Guanghualu, Hedong District) contains more than 100,000 items, including seals, books and documents from past dynasties, centuries-old daily use items, and unearthed local relics. Nearly 30,000 of them are ranked first of second class State-level relics. The jade wares of different dynasties systematically show how the jade and stone carving craft developed over time. The jade pig-paragon, a totem of the Neolithic people, is a typical ware of the Hongshan Culture of around 5500 B.C.. A highlight of the museum is a collection of 1,700 Shang Dynasty (1046-771 B.C.) oracle bones — bones and tortoise shells with inscriptions on them.
Temples and Churches in Tianjin
Xikai Church (Dushan Road, Heping District, near Lida International Department Store) is also called Tianjin Catholic Church. It is comprised of two parts-a chief church and a cathedral, which were built by the French Catholic Church. The chief church was constructed in about 1913, while the cathedral in 1917. The cathedral is a 45-meter-high Roman-style building and the largest church in Tianjin. In 1914, the chief church of Tianjin catholic parish moved from the Wang Hai Lou Church to the Xikai Church. From then on, the Xikai Church has become the center of Tianjin Catholics Location: Dushan Road, Tianjin, 300041; Tel: +86 (0)22 2835 8812 / +86 (0)22 2835 8814 (Tourist Information) ; Fax: +86 (0)22 2835 2324 (Tourist Information)
Dabeiyuan Monastery (Tianwei Lu in the Hebei district) is the largest Buddhist monastery in Tianjin. Built in 1611 and expanded in 1940, it was partially destroyed in a 1976 earthquake and was restored in 1980. The monastery houses hundreds of Buddhist statues from different dynasties. Before 1956, the monastery contained a skull relic of Monk Xuanzhuang (also known as Hiuen Tsang), which had been given to a monastery in Nalanda in India for friendship. The statue of One Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara is worth a look. Admission: fee: 10 yuan; Hours Open: 9:00am to 4:50pm
Great Mosque (northwest part of Tianjin, Hongqiao District) has been an important Islamic shrine since the beginning of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). Extending over an area of 5000 square meters, the mosque consists of four main structures, the Screen Wall, the Archway, the Prayer Hall and the Preaching Hall. The Prayer Hall is the most active and respected spot in the complex. Hundreds of Muslims from in and around Tianjin come here to worship each week. While tourists may not enter the building it is possible for them to walk round the courtyard so as to have a close view of the mosque. Admission: fee: Free; Hours Open: 9:00am to 5:00pm.
Ancestral Temple of Lichun (at Nanfeng Road of Nakai District) is the largest old architecture complex in Tianjin. Built by former Jiangxi warlord Li Chun in Tianjin in 1913 when he lived there, it is made with construction materials taken from a prince's residence in Beijing for a huge sum of money. Travel Information: No Admission fee so far. It's located at the downtown of Tianjin and near to the ancient culture street easily been found.
Wanghailou Church (on the northern bank of the Haihe river in northwest Tianjin) is a tall cathedral also called Shengmu desheng tang (Notre Dame des Victoires). It was the first cathedral to be built (in 1869) after Catholicism was spread to Tianjin. The building was damaged and rebuilt several times after the 1870 Massacre and 1900 Boxer Rebellion and natural disasters, The last time was after the 1976 Tangshan. This simple looking church is only open to the public on Sunday, when a morning service is held. Location: Jingzhonghe Street between Shizilin Bridge and Jingangqiao Bridge. Getting There: bus routes: 675, 609, 856, 14.
Confucius Temple (One street west of Ancient Culture Street) is a large palace-like Wen miao. It is not clear when the temple, the largest in the city, was first built. The earliest record of it is in 1743. The building is composed of walls, ponds, an ancestral hall (paying tribute to Confucius) and the Dacheng Hall (a place for ancient students to pray for great success in their academic study). The temple was restored and opened to the public in 1993. Location: No. 1 Zhongmen Li Hours Open: 9:00am-5:00pm; Admission: Ticket: 4 yuan
Haihe River is the main river in Tianjin. With a catchment area of 317,800 square kilometers (122,800 square miles), the Haihe River is a crucial river in North China and formed by the convergence of five rivers in the Tianjin area. The Haihe River was open to navigation 1,800 years ago, and gradually became a junction for navigation in the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Through centuries of development, it became a trading center gathering a great influx of businessmen from around the nation. Today the former shipping center is a place for relaxation. Among the sights along the river are Sanchakou (a fork in the river) and Daguangming Bridge (one of the bridges over the Haihe River).
Haihe Park (on the Haihe River) is one of the main parks in Tianjin. It has two groups of bronze sculptures. trees, beautiful flowers, green lawns, long corridors under ivy-laced frames, fountains, and sculptures. Residents come here for walks, picnics and recreational activities.
Haihe Cultural Square is a development project along the Haihe River. It gained this name from the adjoining ancient culture street. Focusing on cultural traditions and folk customs of Tianjin, the designer endowed the square with a style of solemnity and simplicity. A modern element is the high-tech lighting, the causeway pavement and the wooden floor make.
Haihe Fountain Amusement Park was opened in 1985 and covers an area of 143,000 square meters (35.3 acres). The park has bumper cars, passenger-propelled airplanes, motorcycle rides and a spectacular colorful fountain in the central area. Sightseeing ships and speed boats offer tours along the Haihe River. Visitors can also enjoy a city light show by taking a boat excursion at night.
Wanghailou Church north bank of the Haihe River) is one of Tianjin’s China's colonial relics. The river was also the location the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911) Wanghailou Tower, a pleasure location for emperors who made trips to their provinces; and the Laolongtou Rail Station, one of the first rail station in China'.
Ancient Cultural Street
Ancient Cultural Street(at Sanchakou, Nankai District) is a replica of an ancient Chinese street built in the 2000s, . It is a about half a kilometer long and is flanked by shops and decorated with Qing-style architecture, carved bricks and water color painting. The shops sell cultural relics, antiques, calligraphy materials, dragon kites and brick inscriptions as well as two crafts for which the city is famous: Yangliuqing New Year Pictures and Zhang's colorful terra-cotta figurines.
Located on the west bank of the Haihe River, with Tianhou Palace as its geographical center, Ancient Cultural Street is regarded as the birthplace of Tianjin and is now a national AAAAA scenic zone, integrating and sightseeing, shopping, restaurants, hotels, recreations and health building centers. Here tourists can drink tea and appreciate and purchase paintings, root carvings, jades and rare rocks. As visitors walk along the street, they can admire splendid replicas of classical architecture and folk style building of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1911).
Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street was formally opened in 1986. It begins at Gongbei Avenue in the north, and ends at Gongnan Avenue in the south, being 0.36 miles long and 16 feet wide. Although essentially a business street, Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street attracts tourists who come to see its special architectural styles, admire its classic cultural features, buy various folk crafts, and sample the delicious local Tianjin snacks.
Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street is designed as a place for tourists to experience Chinese folk custom, and as such, contains examples of nearly all the Tianjin local culture in one place. During the Huanghui Fair around late March according to the Chinese lunar calendar you can see performances of stilt walking and dragon, lantern, land boat and lion dances Admission: Free of charge; 3 yuan for Tianhou Palace. Getting There: bus routes: 1, 4, 12, 15, 611, 612, 619, 624, 824
Sights on Ancient Cultural Street
Tianhou Palace (at the center of Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street) was originally built in 1326 and is one of only three Mazu Temples in the world (the other two are Fujian Mazu Temple and Beigang Chaotian Temple on Taiwan Island). The palace now houses the Folk-custom Museum of Tianjin and displays many folk crafts and cultural relics. Admission: 3 yuan; Getting There: bus routes: 1, 4, 12, 15, 611, 612, 619, 624, 824
Yuhuang Cabinet (Yuhuang Ge) is the only building that was built during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644) in Tianjin, and is the oldest structure in the street. From the top of the two-floor Cabinet, visitors have a bird's-eye view of the whole street. Another building, Tong Qingli (ancient residential houses), built in 1913 and lying to the east of the cultural street, is the largest architectural edifice that combines both eastern and western architectural elements.
According to to Travel China Guide: Looking closely, visitors will note that buildings along the street are all built with 'blue bricks', and that the doors and windows have colorful paintings drawn upon them. These paintings range from stories of legendary and historical figures to flowers and birds. Some retell stories contained in Chinese classical novels, such as The Dream of a Red Mansion (one the four Chinese classical novels) and Song of Eternal Sorrow, which is a story about the Empress Yang Kwei Fei in the Tang Dynasty (618-906) .
“Visitors who are interested in Chinese traditional handicrafts will also appreciate another Tianjin Ancient Cultural Street attraction-the hundreds of stores selling a wide variety of folk handicrafts. These include the famous Yang Liuqing New Year Paintings and Niren Zhang Painted Sculptures. Visitors who are fond of Chinese curios, such as jade items, cloisonné and potteries, will also be able to find many examples of these for sale here. The street is also a favorite place to sample the delicious Tianjin local snacks. The local delicacies include Goubuli Steamed Dumplings, Erduoyan (the Ear-hole Lane) Fried Glutinous Cakes and tea soup.
Tianjin Concessions and Historical Area
The dense network of ex-concession streets south and west of the central train station, and south of the Hai River, now constitute the areas of most interest to visitors. Unmistakable are the chateaux of the French concession, which now make up the downtown district just south of the river, and the mansions the British built east of here. Farther east, also south of the river, the architecture of an otherwise unremarkable district has a sprinkling of German buildings.
The old city is still demarcated by nationality. The Austrian, Italian, Russian and Belgian concessions run from east to west along the north bank of the river. On the south side of the river are the French, British and German concessions. Conservationist in Tianjin are trying to save the city's old neighborhoods. They have won a few battles and saved some buildings but are generally losing the war to developers.
Five-Road Scenic Area ( Heping District of Tianjin in the British Settlement zone) refer to Machang, Munan, Dali, Chingqing and Chengdu roads. Along the five roads stand some 2,000 garden-like buildings of different styles of various countries built in the 1920s and 1930s, with an area of one million square meters. There are actually more than 20 streets in the area. During the Warlord Era era, many officials and celebrities in the Qing Dynasty and the Beiyang government lived here. The rows of beautiful, elegant Western-style houses has earned the area the name “World Architecture Museum”.
Jingyuan Mansion is associated with the Last Emperor of China. Kazuhiko Makita wrote in the Yomiuri Shimbun: “In the bustling coastal metropolis of Tianjin sits an opulent mansion that from 1929 to 1931 was home to Puyi, the last emperor of the Qing dynasty, and also where Yoshiko Kawashima - the mysterious "Eastern Mata Hari" - is said to have had one of her biggest successes. The Jingyuan mansion was restored in 2007. Its exterior is Spanish, with earthen walls, reddish-brown tile roofs and arches supported by pillars. The interior is Japanese, with generous amounts of unadorned wood. The site is open to the public, and items related to China's last emperor are on display, including one of Puyi's suits and Wanrong's piano. There is nothing on Kawashima. When asked about the spy, a guide says, "Wanrong and Puyi are supposed to have traveled to Lushun together. I've never heard anything about Yoshiko Kawashima being involved". [Source: Kazuhiko Makita, The Yomiuri Shimbun, Asia News Network, August 18, 2013]
Skyscrapers in Tianjin
Goldin Finance 117 (Xiqing District) is the 5th tallest building in the world (as of 2020). 596.6 meters (1,957 feet) tall. Also known as China 117 Tower, it has 132 floors and a floor area of 370,000 square meters (4,000,000 square feet). As of 2019 it was unfinished and unoccupied,. Construction began in 2008 and was scheduled for completion in 2014 but was twice halted. [Source: Wikipedia]
Goldin Finance 117 is designed to resemble a walking stick and is nicknamed the Walking Stick. Earlier designs resembled the shape of a fin and a diamond. It was planned to be the tallest flat-roofed building in the world. The new estimated completion date said to be in the year 2021. The building was topped out in September 2015. China State Construction Engineering Corporation, the contractor of the project, removed all on-site workers and left it unfinished.
In 2015, two Russian and Chinese urban explorers climbed the tower and the construction crane. In 2016, Russian couple Ivan Beerkus (Kuznetsov) and Angela Nikolau climbed the under-construction tower using stairs instead of the crane. Their video received over 880,000 views as of April 2020 and attracted worldwide media attention.
Tianjin CTF Finance Center
Tianjin CTF Finance Center (Binhai New Area, an outer district of the Tianjin) is the 9th tallest building in the world (as of 2020). Also known as Tianjin Chow Tai Fook Binhai Center, it is 530 meters (1,739 feet) tall. It has 97 floors and was constructed between 2011 and 2019. Located in the Economic-Technological Development Area., it is the tallest building in the world with less than 100 floors. [Source: Wikipedia]
Tianjin CTF Finance Center contains a hotel, serviced apartments and offices. Owned byTianjin New World Huan Bo Hai Real Estate Development Co. Ltd., the building has a floor area of 252,144 square meters (2,714,055 square feet). The top floor (439 meters (1,441 feet) off the ground. There are 81 elevators, 266 apartments and 365 hotel rooms. Architecture firm behind the project was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP in collaboration with Ronald Lu & Partners. The main contractor was China Construction 8th Engineering Division.
According to the Skyscraper Center: “By stacking reducing floor plates, the tower tapers dramatically to minimize the surface area exposed to wind, sun, and moisture. The gently-undulating curves of the façade subtly denote the integration of the three distinct programs within a singular smooth object. Square in plan with rounded corners, the floor plate geometry enables unique interior fit-outs and customization options for occupants. Research by the architect has shown that lateral forces due to vortex shedding can be controlled by tapering the vertical profile of the tower and softening any sharp corners in plan. The building's aerodynamic shape greatly reduces this vortex shedding by “confusing the wind” and disrupting the opportunity for any resonating wind forces and loads on the structure. [Source: Skyscraper Center skyscrapercenter.com
“The softly curving glass skin integrates eight sloping megacolumns that follow a lyrical line connecting the centers and corners of all four elevations. These curving megacolumns increase the structure's response to seismic concerns and are integral to both the gravity and lateral systems. They are effective in increasing the stiffness of the building's perimeter frame, consequently attracting a larger portion of the seismic forces in compliance with the Chinese code requirements.
“The façade reinforces the curvature of the tower form and creates a shimmering texture over the building's surface. The crystalline-like curtain wall stretches from the suspended glass canopies at each of the lobbies to the dematerialized, megacolumn-looped crown and presents a bold expression of a comprehensive, integrated design on the Tianjin skyline.”
Sights Near Tianjin
Dule Temple (120 kilometers from Tianjin) means the Temple of Solitary Amusement. Built during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), the temple consists of an entrance gate and a Goddess of Mercy pavilion that has remained standing after 28 earthquakes. The roof of the gate is one of the oldest in China. It has five ridges and four slopes. The pavilion is one of China's best examples of wooden architecture in China. Its elaborate brackets employ 24 different systems to hold up the columns and keep the crossbeams together. Inside the pavilion is 50 foot-high clay statue of Guanyin Buddha, the Goddess of Mercy.
Shi Family Courtyard (20 kilometers west-southwest of Tianjin in the town of Yangliuqing) was first built in 1875. It is a fine example of a complex of residential houses of the late Qing Dynasty. It was once claimed as the :No.1 Mansion in North China”. The Courtyard includes the Shi Family Theater, the largest opera house in North China. Today it serves as the Museum of Yangliuqing Customs, which contains a large collection of Yangliuqing New Year pictures, painted clay figurines by Zhang, brick carvings and other local handicrafts and arts, such as paper-cuts and stage properties for folk festivals.
The Shi family was one of the eight most famous and powerful families in Tianjin in the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1911). The Shi family first became rich through trading grain and cotton, using the canal transportation that was popular at that time. They made enough money to buy land and build their own houses. Then they opened shops, factories and private banks to multiply their wealth. The family lived in Yang Liu Qing for over 200 years. During the reign of emperor Jia Qing, the Shi family owned thousands of hectares of land and 500 houses Admission: fee: 20 yuan; Hours Open: 08:10 to 4:00pm Getting There: Bus routes: Bus 153, 158 175 672
Tianjin Radio and TV Tower (Tianta Tower in short) is the main architectural structure in the Tianta Lake Scenic Area and the only tower on water in the world, integrating sightseening, catering service, entertainment, broadcasting and television.
Cangzhou (200 kilometers east of Beijing) is a large industrial, coastal city A former agricultural backwater, is now the heart of China's steel industry and the home of some of China's worst pollution. “The industrial city of ZIBO (also called Chang-tien) is located in a rich coal field, 175 miles south of Tianjin in the eastern region. As it is known today, Zibo was formed in 1949, when the counties of Tzuch'eng and Poshan merged. Historically, the city can be traced to the second century B.C." the extensive mid-20th-century development started with completion of an important railway passing just north of town. Textile manufacturing and food processing are growing in significance. Zibo has an estimated population of 2,775,000.
Dagukou Forts (60 kilometers southeast of Tianjin on the southern and northern banks of the Haihe River by its outlet to the sea) is comprised of three partially ruined forts named Wei, Zhen and Hai. According to the Chinese government: “As national historical monuments under state protection, they have become a patriotic education base by the local government." The ruins of the Wei emplacement has become the Museum of Dagu Emplacements Ruins.
Dagukou Fort was built in 1816 to protect Beijing. Tianjin is the gateway to Beijing from the sea, and the Dagukou Fort is the gateway to Tianjin. According to Travel China Guide: “Both the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing dynasties erected fortresses here because of its military importance. In 1858, the Qing government built six emplacements named Wei, Zhen, Hai, Men, Gao, and Shitoufeng. They were all thicker and wider than those constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644). Between the mid-19th century and 1900, the Eight-Power Allied Forces launched four wars in the Dagu area to gain economic and political control over China. The local armies and citizens fought bravely against the invaders, and many Chinese people sacrificed their lives for their country. After the war, the imperialists forced the Qing government to destroy the emplacements. As a result, most of the forts were demolished and only the Wei Fort and the Hai Fort survived.
“Visitors can see the Dagu Fort Ruins Museum, the Dagukou Fort Ruins Monument, and the Wei and the Hai forts here. The museum was built in 1997 at the ruins of the Wei Fort. It displays the history of the emplacement with abundant pictures, illustrations, and objects. Of the six forts, the Wei Fort is the only round one. The emplacement, which is more than 20 meters (65 feet) high, is made of bricks. The cannons exhibited here are modeled on the ones used in the Second Opium War (1856-1860). The spot conveys a vivid feel for the cruel battle that took place in this area. Near this emplacement ruins, many other scenic spots such as Haimen Bridge, Dagukou Beacon, and Chaoyin Temple are also worthy of visiting. A visit here is destined to be an unforgettable one. Admission: fee: 10 yuan; Hours Open: 8:00am-5:00pm; Bus Route: Take Bus No. 612 or 613 in Tianjin to Tanggu and Transfer to Bus No. 110.
Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons
Text Sources: CNTO (China National Tourist Organization), UNESCO, Wikipedia, Lonely Planet guides, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Compton's Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Updated in September 2021