Culture and art

( 文化和艺术 )
Being one of the four ancient capitals of China, Nanjing has always been a cultural centre attracting intellectuals from all over the country. In the Tang and Song dynasties, Nanjing was a place where poets gathered and composed poems reminiscent of its luxurious past; during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city was the official imperial examination centre (Jiangnan Examination Hall) for the Jiangnan region, again acting as a hub where different thoughts and opinions converged and thrived.

Today, with a long cultural tradition and strong support from local educational institutions, Nanjing is commonly viewed as a “city of culture” and one of the more pleasant cities to live in China.


Some of the leading art groups of China are based in Nanjing; they include the Qianxian Dance Company, Nanjing Dance Company, Jiangsu Peking Opera Institute and Nanjing Xiaohonghua Art Company among others.

Jiangsu Province Kun Opera is one of the best theatres for Kunqu, China's oldest stage art. It is considered a conservative and traditional troupe. Nanjing also has professional opera troupes for the Yang, Yue (shaoxing), Xi and Jing (Chinese opera varieties) as well as Suzhou pingtan, spoken theatre and puppet theatre.

Jiangsu Art Gallery is the largest gallery in Jiangsu Province, presenting some of the best traditional and contemporary art pieces of China; many other smaller-scale galleries, such as Red Chamber Art Garden and Jinling Stone Gallery, also have their own special exhibitions.

Folk Culture

As one of the four ancient cities in China, Najing boasts time-honored history and profound culture. Nanjing is also one of the educational and cultural centers in China, where traditional Chinese festivals are all celebrated. On Spring Festival, Nanjing people will post couplets and Door Gods, and some literati even post a picture of cock onto the door. On Lantern Festival, lantern show would be offered, Tomb-sweeping day, spring outing, and Double Ninth Festival, climbing mountains.

Nanjing Baiju Tune(南京白局)
Baiju is a prevalent storytelling and ballad singing folk tune in Nanjing, which is revolved from songs sung by workers when producing cloud brocade. With a history of 600 years, Baiju is the only old folk tune in Nanjing. The actor of performing Nanjing Baiju is generally one or two persons, with a maximum of 5 persons. All the dialogue in Baiju is spoken in Nanjing dialect, easy to understand but full of humor. It is a distinctive singing art brimming with Nanjing local flavor.

Cruise in Qinghuai River on Dragon Boat Festival(端午划龙舟)

On the Dragon Boat Festival, Nanjing people eat rice dumplings and Green Bean Cake. Also people will use the sunshine-exposed water to wash eyes to avoid eye disease. Moreover, people will hang the folium artemisiae argyi onto the door to drive away bad luck. At night, houses flanked on both sides of Qinhuai River are decorated with colorful lanterns, and people will cruise on the dragon boat to appreciate the enchanting nightscape of Qinhuai River.

Touch Autumn on Mid-autumn Day(中秋)

The Mid-autumn Day is also referred as August Festival in southern China. On this day, people living far away will try their best to return home for family reunion. Nanjing people like sitting together and appreciating moon with family members. Hanging out on this night is called "Walking under Moonlight". On this special night, people will worship the moon: display various fruits and moon-cakes and then burn incense and firecrackers as a way of praying health and good luck.

Welcome Wealth God on Little Year(春节)

According to the custom of Nanjing, the fifth day of January in lunar calendar is called "Little Year", which is an important day for Nanjing people. On this day, all the trashes stored would be cleared thoroughly. People will stay up and wait for the coming of 0:00 on next day. When it comes, different kinds of cracks would be lit simultaneously and Nanjing city is brimming with spree atmosphere. On this day, according to the tradition of Nanjing, various lanterns of diverse shape would start to hang onto the Confucius Temple.


Nanjing International Plum Blossom Festival(南京国际梅花节)

Plum blossom is the city flower of Nanjing. Since 1996, Nanjing Municipal Government has held Nanjing International Plum Blossom Festival at Plum Blossom Hill, which is located in the Zhongshan Mountain Scenic Area each year. Now the festival has become a state-level tourism event renowned at home and abroad. Many blossom themed activities are held during February and March, which attract millions of visitors.

Qinhuai International Lantern Festival(国际秦淮花灯节)

Qinhuai Lantern Festival is an important component of Qinhuai culture and a famous traditional festival of Nanjing. It has been successfully held for 26 years in the Confucius Temple at Qinhuai Scenic Belt since 1985. Each year from Jan. 1 -15, up to several million locals and tourists from home and abroad visit the lantern shows.

Gaochun Rape Flower Festival(高淳金花节)

A special festival held in China’s only International Slow Town – Yaxi of Gaochun County when the rape flowers blossom. The golden flower sea, the slow town scenery and the delicious farm food attract many visitors.

China Nanjing International Osmanthus Festival(中国南京国际桂花节)

A special garden activity of Linggu Temple held yearly when osmanthus flowers blossom in autumn.

Gaochun River-Crab Festival(高淳螃蟹节)

With river-crab as the carrier, the festival is held to fully display the special aquatic products, scenic spots, food brands and folk customs.

Red Maple Festival(红枫节)

A seasonal activity of Qixia Mountain held when the maples are red.

Tangshan International Hot Spring Culture Tourism Festival(汤山温泉节)

Tangshan is a very famous hot spring resort in China. It used to be exclusively for imperial families in ancient times. Tangshan International Hot Spring Culture Tourism Festival started in 2009. Many hot spring experts and international tourists come to attend various activities and forums related to hot springs every year. The festival has become a famous vacation and leisure brand of Nanjing.

Cultural Tourism Route

Historical Sites in the Ancient Capital

Taicheng Wall, Jiming Temple, Xuanwu Lake → Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty, Linggu Temple → Qingliang Hill, Stone City → Mochou Lake → Chaotian Palace → Confucius Temple, Ancient Residence of Wang and Xie → Qixia Mountain → Two Tombs of Southern Tang King

Famous Relics of the Ming Dynasty

Xiaoling Tomb of the Ming Dynasty, Linggu Temple →Ming Dynasty Culture Village → Ming Dynastic City Walls(Zhonghua Gate, Taicheng Wall, Qingliang Gate, Shence Gate, Dongshui Pass, Wuchao Gate, etc.)→ Confucius Temple, the Former Residence of Li Xiangjun、Zhanyuan Garden, White Egret Park → Yuejiang Tower, Jinghai Temple, Tianfei Palace → Ruins of Baochuan Shipyard → Mochou Lake Park → Chaotian Palace → Tiansheng Bridge

Places of Interest Related to Zheng He's Trip

Jinghai Temple, Tianfei Palace → Ruins of Baochuan Shipyard → Zhenghe Park → Jingjue Temple → the Tomb of the King of Brunei → the Tomb of Zheng He at Niushou Mountain

Buildings in the Time of the Republic of China

Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Mausoleum, Linggu Temple, Meiling Palace → Nanjing Museum, Nanjing Geological Museum → Presidential Palace, Meiyuan Xincun, 1912 Culture and Leisure Block, Pilu Temple → Villa Area on Yihe Road, Nanjing University, Nanjing Normal University, Southeast University → Chiang Kai-Shek's Villa in Tangshan

Temples and Churches

Qixia Temple → Linggu Temple → Jiming Temple, Xuanzang Temple → Pilu Temple → Jinling Sutra Printing House, the Mosque on South Taiping Road, St Paul's Church on South Taiping Road → Jingjue Temple → Hongjue Temple on Niushou Mountain → Zhenru Temple on Youzi Hill → Huiji Temple in Tangquan

Folk Customs

Nanjing Museum → Nanjing Brocade Museum of China → Confucius Temple, Folk-custom Garden of Confucius Temple  → Chaotian Palace (Nanjing Municipal Museum) → Ancient Lanes in South City, the Courtyard of Ganxi → Jiangning Gold Foil Plant→ Jinling Sutra Printing House → Gaochun Ancient Street → Jinniu (Golden Ox) Lake of Luhe

Waterscape of Qinhuai

Tour in a painted pleasure-boat along the outer Qinghuai River (sites along the route —Ruins of Dabao'en Temple、Changgan Bridge, Wuding Gate Park, Stone City Park, Jiangsu Television Tower, Shuimu Qinhuai, New Landscape of West City, etc.) →Tour in a painted pleasure-boat along the inner Qinghuai River (sites along the route – Dongshui Pass, the Former Residence of Wu Jingzi, Taoye Ferry, White Egret Park, Jiangnan Examination Office, Dacheng Palace, the Former Residence of Li Xiangjun, Ancient Residence of Wang and Xie, Zhanyuan Garden, Zhonghua Gate Citadel, etc.)

Scientific and Educational Places

Purple Mountain Observatory, Zhongshan Botanic Garden → Nanjing Museum, Nanjing Geological Museum → Nanjing Municipal Museum → Ming Dynasty City Wall Museum, Nanjing Paleontology Museum → Museum of Modern History in China (Presidential Palace),  Meiyuan Xincun Memorial Hall → Taiping Heavenly Kingdom History Museum→ Yuhuatai (Rain Flower Terrace) → Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invaders→ Nanjing Urban Construction Exhibition Hall → Nanjing National Defense Park, Dacheng Palace, Jiangnan Examination Office

Landscape Gardens

Xuanwu Lake → Mochou Lake → Zhanyuan Garden, White Egret Islet → East and West Gardens of Presidential Palace → Zhongshan Botanic Garden, Plum Blossom Hill→ Qiangliang Hill Park → Pearl Spring →Nanjing Greening Exhibition Park

Riverside View

Jiangnan Naval School → the Monument in Memory of Crossing the Changjiang River Successfully → Yuejiang Tower, Jinghai Temple, Tianfei Palace → Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge → The 2nd Yangtze River Bridge →The 3rd Yangtze River Bridge → Ruins of Baochuan Shipyard → Nanjing Greening Exhibition Park → Jiangxin Island →Yanzi (Swallow) Rock→ Bagua Island


Nanjing Library, founded in 1907, houses more than 7 million volumes of printed materials and is the third largest library in China, after the National Library in Beijing and Shanghai Library. Other libraries, such as city-owned Jinling Library and various district libraries, also provide considerable amount of information to citizens. Nanjing University Library, owned by Nanjing University, with a collection of 4.2 million volumes, is the second largest university libraries in China after Peking University Library. More than 100 multimedia networked-computers are available to readers.


Nanjing has some of the oldest and finest museums in China. Nanjing Museum, formerly known as National Central Museum under KMT rule, is the first modern museum and remains as one of the leading museums in China. Other museums include the China Modern History Museum in the Presidential Palace, the Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall, the City Museum of Nanjing, the Taiping Kingdom History Museum, Nanjing Science and Technology Museum, the Nanjing Customs Museum, the Nanjing City Wall Cultural Museum, and a small museum and tomb honoring the 15th century seafaring admiral Zheng He.


Most of Nanjing's major theatres are multi-purpose, used as convention halls, cinemas, musical halls and theatres on different occasions. The major theatres include the People's Convention Hall and the Nanjing Arts and Culture Center.

Night life

Traditionally Nanjing's nightlife was mostly centered around Confucius Temple area along the Qinhuai River, where night markets, restaurants and pubs thrived. Boating at night in the river was a main attraction of the city. Thus, one can see the statues of the famous teachers and educators of the past not too far from those of the courtesans who educated the young men in the other arts.

In the past 20 years, several commercial streets have been developed, hence the nightlife has become more diverse: there are shopping malls opening late in the Xinjiekou CBD and Hunan Road. The well-established "Nanjing 1912" district hosts a wide variety of pastime facilities ranging from traditional restaurants and western pubs to dance clubs. There are two major areas where bars are densely located; one is in 1912 block; the other is along Shanghai road and its neighbourhood. Both are popular with international residents of the city.

These days, the most comprehensive source of nightlife information (in English) can be found on and

Local people still very much enjoy street food, such as Kababu. As elsewhere in Asia, Karaoke is popular with both young and old crowd.

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