Travel Report: The Presidential Palace Nanjing.
October 2018. A few of my Chinese friends claimed I was crazy for going to Nanjing during Golden Week. They were probably right. However, one thing I certainly couldn’t be accused of was not knowing what I was letting myself in for. Actually, I’d already experienced several national holidays in China. As a result, I was expecting things to be insane at the main tourist attractions. Consequently, it was through gritted teeth that I approached The Presidential Palace Nanjing. At the ticket office things were indeed hectic. But then I spotted an incredibly convenient foreigners only queue that allowed me to swiftly buy a ticket and head inside. Golden Week crowds? Piece a cake!
Nanjing’s Presidential Palace, also known as The China Modern History Museum, began life as a luxury mansion for Prince Han of The Ming Dynasty. Come here at any other time of the year and it’s easy to get a real sense of ancient China as you stroll through a series of gorgeous courtyards, squares and gardens. Sadly this feeling was less tangible for me, what with kids running under my feet and selfie taking teens as far as the eye could see. Later on, in the 1600s, the palace was bizarrely used as a fabric warehouse. Taiping revolutionaries eventually seized control and made it the capital of their so called Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.
During those Taiping days the most revered building here was this impressive Golden Dragon Hall. The Taiping ruler King Hong Xiuquan designed it and also oversaw its construction. The interior is really impressive, with painted with lions, tigers, elephants and dragons. And then there’s its centrepiece, a formidable golden throne the king used to discuss state affairs with his advisors.
The Presidential Palace, Nanjing.
The pretty, green palace pond and its covered walkways was my favourite part of the compound. Especially being able to settle down on one of the wooden benches and take in the contrasting backdrop of Nanjing’s modern skyline. Loading up some more history on my phone, I learned that after the days of the Taiping, Dr. Sun Yat-sen arrived here in 1912 after being sworn in as China’s first provisional Republic President.
There are tributes to Sun Yat-sen all around the complex, including grand paintings in the old offices, a waxwork installation in the museum and this elegant sculpture that attracts a steady flow of people paying their respects.
The palace became a museum in the 1980s and today draws visitors from all over the nation. It’s open daily from 08:30-17:00, with tickets priced at 40RMB (4.40/€5/$5.80).
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