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Shanghai Sights and Sounds
Jade Buddha temple

Jade Buddha temple

Observe monks at prayer and see a Buddha statue made entirely of jade. Hidden away in the residential sprawl of north Jing’an District, the Jade Buddha Temple is a working monastery as well as a place of worship. Located close to Shanghai’s main railway station, it was built in 1884 to store two jade Buddhas presented to the Qing Dynasty government by an abbot from a neighboring province.

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Observe monks at prayer and see a Buddha statue made entirely of jade.

Hidden away in the residential sprawl of north Jing’an District, the Jade Buddha Temple is a working monastery as well as a place of worship. Located close to Shanghai’s main railway station, it was built in 1884 to store two jade Buddhas presented to the Qing Dynasty government by an abbot from a neighboring province.

The temple is divided into three main halls. The Chamber of Heavenly kings close to the front entrance commemorates the four great figures of Buddhism, and the Great Hall contains 18 golden statues of famous Buddhist practitioners as well as three golden Buddhas. The eponymous jade Buddha is in a hall on the second floor.

As well as a temple and monastery, the building also houses a library from which research texts are published and lectures held. It has been the site of the Shanghai Institute of Buddhism since 1983.

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Old Jewish Quarter

Old Jewish Quarter

See where Shanghai’s early Jewish communities sought refuge from the Nazis during decades of war and turmoil. The Jewish ghetto was an area of one square mile in the northerly Hongkou district that was established during the Japanese occupation of the city. It was there that 20,000 Jews escaped from the insidious spread of Nazi anti-Semitism that was rife in Europe during the 1930s and ’40s.

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See where Shanghai’s early Jewish communities sought refuge from the Nazis during decades of war and turmoil.

Shanghai’s Jewish ghetto was an area of one square mile in the northerly Hongkou district that was established during the Japanese occupation of the city. It was there that 20,000 Jews escaped from the insidious spread of Nazi anti-Semitism that was rife in Europe during the 1930s and ’40s.

The first Jews to arrive in Shanghai were 26 German Jewish families, including five famous doctors. Next came Jews from Austria, Poland and the former Czechoslovakia, arriving by both land and sea. The Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 saw 18,000 Ashkenazi Jews arrive in Shanghai, a number that was unsustainable. The new arrivals lived ten to a room in cramped, unsanitary conditions, and struggled to find work. Luckily, rich Sephardim and Mizrahim came to their aid, including the wealthy businessmen who had arrived in the 1840s and the Russian Jews who had fled the Bolsheviks. Despite Nazi demands for the Jews to return to Europe, they remained in Shanghai and escaped certain death in the concentration camps.

In 1943, the Japanese occupiers set up the Restricted Sector for Stateless Refugees, and allowed all post-1937 arrivals to move their homes and businesses to this new ghetto. Shanghai was liberated in September 1945, and most of the Jewish people left the city when the State of Israel was formed in 1948.

The site of Shanghai’s Jewish ghetto offers an insight into the refugee community that thrived there for so many decades.

Ohel Moishe Synagogue

Ohel Moishe Synagogue

Visit the former place of worship used by Jews throughout the first half of the 20th century, which provided them with refuge from persecution. The Ohel Moishe synagogue is located on Changyang Road in the Hongkou District north of the Bund. It was founded in 1907 for the Russian Jews who had escaped the Bolsheviks and settled in Shanghai, and was used by subsequent generations of Jewish people who fled the Nazis in Europe.

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Visit the former place of worship used by Jews throughout the first half of the 20th century, which provided them with refuge from persecution.

The Ohel Moishe synagogue on the site of the Shanghai Jewish Ghetto is found on Changyang Road in the Hongkou District north of the Bund. It was founded in 1907 for the Russian Jews who had escaped the Bolsheviks and settled in Shanghai, and was used by subsequent generations of Jewish people who fled the Nazis in Europe. Alongside the Ohel Rachel synagogue on Shaanxi Road built by Jacob Sassoon, it was a hub of the city’s Jewish community.

The synagogue fell into disuse after most of Shanghai’s Jewish population left after the formation of the State of Israel in 1948. It wasn’t until 1986 that a group of Shanghai Jews revisited the Hongkou District on a visit to China that the idea of renovation was born. The returning Jews presented a plaque to the Hongkou government to thank them for their help, and decided to transform the derelict synagogue into a museum charting the history of the Shanghai Jews.

The building you see today is the original three-story structure, but most of the artifacts have been lost over the years, but the main hall has been laid out roughly as it would have been during its time as an active place of worship. Displays and photographs on the third floor tell the stories and list the names of the Shanghai Jews, and there is a small bookshop.

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Lujiazui

Lujiazui

See Shanghai’s iconic skyline up close, and wander among the skyscrapers, shopping malls, and modern apartment blocks of the city’s financial district. Before the economic boom of the 1980s, the area known as Lujiazui on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River was dedicated to low-rise housing, warehouses and factories. Thirty years later it is an ultra-modern financial district, with some of the world’s tallest and most striking buildings.

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See Shanghai’s iconic skyline up close.

Before the economic boom of the 1980s, the area known as Lujiazui (Lu’s Mouth) on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River was dedicated to low-rise housing, warehouses and factories. Thirty years later it is an ultra-modern financial district, with some of the world’s tallest and most striking buildings.

Lujiazui is the only officially designated finance and trade area out of China’s 185 state-level development zones. It is home to over 500 international and domestic companies across more than 30 skyscrapers, and has given Shanghai its legendary skyline. Luxury five star hotels have moved in to the area, offering a boost to the city’s tourism industry. Many of the skyscrapers have bars and restaurants on their upper floors.

Lujiazui’s “big three” are the Oriental Pearl TV Tower with its pink spheres, the Jin Mao (shaped like a pagoda), and the Shanghai World Financial Center, which many people nickname “The Bottle Opener” due to its distinctive cut-out square. Currently the world’s third tallest building, the SWFC will soon be overtaken by the Shanghai Tower that is being built beside it.

As well as the business area, Lujiazui also has several excellent shopping malls, a riverside promenade lined with restaurants and bars, and an aquarium.

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TV Tower

TV Tower

Ascend Shanghai’s most futuristic building for a bird’s eye view of the entire city. Sitting on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River like an alien spaceship, the striking Oriental Pearl TV Tower was Shanghai’s first skyscraper, and remains one of the city’s tallest buildings. Its unique design is a highlight of the Shanghai skyline, with 11 pink tiled spheres arranged around concrete pillars.

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Ascend Shanghai’s most futuristic building for a bird’s eye view of the entire city.

Sitting on the eastern bank of the Huangpu River like an alien spaceship, the striking Oriental Pearl TV Tower was Shanghai’s first skyscraper, and remains one of the city’s tallest buildings. Its unique design is a highlight of the Shanghai skyline, with 11 pink tiled spheres arranged around concrete pillars.

At 468 meters tall, the Pearl was the tallest building in Shanghai when it was opened in 1995, and remained so until the Shanghai World Financial Center went up 2007. Rumors abound that the designer, Jiang Huancheng, was inspired by a classical Chinese poem about pearls falling onto a jade dish, but he has denied the story.

The Pearl has a total of 15 observatories, the most popular of which are the 350-meter-high Space Module, the Sightseeing Floor at 263 meters and Space City at 90 meters. The Space Module offers the best views of the surrounding skyscrapers and beyond. On clear days you can see all the way to Chongming Island, the alluvial sand bar that is China’s largest island. The module’s glass floor panels offer vertiginous views of the ground hundreds of meters below.

The Oriental Pearl attracts over 30 million visitors per year, making it one of Shanghai’s most popular tourist destinations. There is a revolving restaurant at 267 meters, a 20-room hotel between the lowest two spheres, and a museum of Shanghai history on site.

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Acrobatic show

Acrobatic show

Watch some of China’s most talented acrobats as they tumble, leap, swing, and jump in a breathtaking display. Juggling, balancing and spinning, the performers defy gravity as they traverse the indoor arena.

Xintiandi

Xintiandi

Enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of this contemporary lifestyle hub built in a series of old lanes. Xintiandi means “new heaven and earth” in Chinese, and it definitely lives up to its name. Offering an array of high-class eating options, designer boutiques, and plenty of terraces and patios for people-watching, it is one of Shanghai’s most popular areas for affluent locals and curious visitors. The development was begun in the early 2000s when two blocks of traditional shikumen (stone gate) houses were saved from demolition and turned into shops and restaurants.

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Enjoy the cosmopolitan atmosphere of this contemporary lifestyle hub built in a series of old lanes.

Xintiandi means “new heaven and earth” in Chinese, and it definitely lives up to its name. Offering an array of high-class eating options, designer boutiques, and plenty of terraces and patios for people-watching, it is one of Shanghai’s most popular areas for affluent locals and curious visitors.

The Xintiandi development was begun in the early 2000s when two blocks of traditional shikumen (stone gate) houses were saved from demolition and turned into shops and restaurants. The project has won awards for preserving the traditional architecture and atmosphere of the longtang (alleys) while giving the area a modern facelift.

Xintiandi’s North Block is home to Western and Chinese restaurants, cafés and bars, while the South Block ends with a huge glass-fronted shopping mall. Both blocks have shops and boutiques, as well as stallholders peddling luxury handicrafts.

Watch Old Shanghai meet new Shanghai with impressive results at this popular attraction.