One of the common criticisms of Shenzhen is that there is no history, and for the most part this is true. The city is only 40 years old and a lot of the older villages and rural areas have been demolished to make way for more apartments and shopping malls. However there is one old part of Shenzhen still standing. In fact it is the oldest part of SZ, and that is Nantou Ancient Town. This history of Nantou dates back to 331 AD, and the current ‘walled city’ is from 1394. And despite the rapid growth of SZ the traditional architecture remains. It was first built to guard Dongguan and later became the centre of Xin’an county. But what’s there to do here?
What to do?
Nantou Ancient Town has a lot to see, so I recommend starting with the Guandi Temple. Its located near the main gate to the ‘walled city’ and it’s the authentic real type of temple you don’t see often in SZ. I’m unsure of the age of it but it defiantly ‘has age’ and its very quiet with maybe one or two people milling around. Photos are permitted. And you can light a candle or make a wish if you so desire. Its small and has an authentic community feel to it.
Ancient Walled City
After you head through the main gate you’ll be surmised how busy this area is, no matter the time of day. Whether its people buying groceries for the day, or people heading off to work, it’s a hive of activity. Traditional residential houses, and other temples with styles from the Qing dynasty can be seen here. The buildings are very close together creating narrow and dark alleyways that are pretty rare to see in a mega-city like SZ. Street food is another appealing aspect of Nantou Ancient Town. The dishes are pretty common, and can be found almost everywhere, it for some reason tastes a lot better. You just know they have been doing it for generations.
In the past Nantou hosted the 5th UABB ( bi-city biennale of urbanism/architecture ), which featured artists and designers from countries all over the world, and some of the designs and architecture of this event remain. Mainly the coloured buildings, street art, and cool industrial style which is a sharp contrast to the traditional aesthetic of the area. So while there may not seem like so much to do here, it does provide a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city, and who doesn’t like to see something new?
Directions. Daxin metro station exit A. walk forward around 700M. turn right at the signpost for ‘nantou ancient town museum’ walk forward around 400m to a long spiral bridge. Its on opposite side of the road.
Bus 42, 78, 201, 301, 311, 338, 395, m200, m371 to Nantou
Beside of Tianqiao Bridge, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518055
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