There is much more to Shenzhen than shopping and tourists could well be missing out on seeing some rich cultural and historical landmarks. Shenzhen played an important role in some key historical events like the collapse and final stand of the Southern Song Dynasty (13th Century), the final stand of the Ming Dynasty (17th Century) and the Opium War (19th Century).
Let’s take a look at some of the historic buildings and landmarks that can be found in and around Shenzhen:
Tomb of the Young Song Emperor (宋少帝陵; Sòng Shǎo Dì Líng), Chiwan (赤湾; Chìwān)
This is believed to be the final resting place of the last Emperor of the Southern Song Dynasty who died in 1279 after escaping the Mongols who had taken the dynastic capital Hangzhou. People cannot say with any certainty if this is the actual tomb but it is pretty certain the Emperor died in this region and there are lots of folk tales that support the evidence.
The tomb was brought to modern light by the research of Zhao Clan of Hong Kong (Zhao was the Song Imperial Surname) in the 19th century. It was neglected during the Cultural Revolution and much of the 20th Century. The Shenzhen government restored the tomb in the 1980s.
Xin’an (Nantou) Ancient City (新安(南头)古城; Xīn’ān (Nántóu) Gǔchéng)
This was the former county town that used to surround Hong Kong. A town has been here since the 4th century and you can still find glimpses of the ancient past among the modern urban buildings. The Ming Dynasty wall and town gate both remain in good condition, as does the Guan Yu temple just outside the gates. Other historic buildings include the naval and civil headquarters, a silver shop, and opium den and even a brothel.
Dapeng Ancient Fort (大鹏所城; Dàpéng Suǒchéng)
This is a well-preserved Ming-Dynasty fort that was built in 1394. It was placed to guard the entrances to Pearl River and played an important role in the Opium War. Currently it is undergoing restoration to turn the fort into a museum.
Crane Lake Fortified Hakka Village and Hakka Culture Museum
In the 17th Century, the Emperor KangXi waged war with the Ming Loyalists in Taiwan and de-populated the coastline. This resulted in Shenzhen being populated by a lot of Hakka so that they made up half the city. Relations between the Hakka and Cantonese became strained and in the 19th Century alone half-a-million people lost their lives in the struggle. As a result, the Hakkas fortified their settlements.
The largest rectangular “Wie” fort can be found at Crane Lake in Longgang District and it now serves a more peaceful purpose as a museum of Hakka Culture. Another well-preserved fort and village can also be found at Dawanshiju.
Chiwan Left Fort (赤湾左炮台)
Chiwan played an important role in defense of Pearl River during the opium war. It is strategically located 500 meters above the river and it originally had 12 guns with great lines of fire. However, the fort fell into disgrace by allowing the British Ships to enter the Pearl unharmed. Now, only the left-fort is preserved with the right-fort falling into ruin.
There is a statue of Lin Zexu at Chiwan, the former viceroy of the two Guangs. His decision to try and eradicate the opium trade was a major factor in causing the opium war.
For further reading:
Superb and Splendid Tourist Attractions in Bao’an District
Tourist Attractions in Shenzhen’s Futian District
Tourist Attractions in Shenzhen’s Nanshan District
Other Related Topics:
Historical Sites in Shenzhen
Shenzhen Museum （Old Location )
Xin’an (Nantou) Ancient City