Shamian Island was an important port for Guangzhou’s foreign trade from the Song to the Qing Dynasty. From the 18th to the mid 19th century, the foreigners lived and did business in a row of houses known as the Thirteen Factories, near the present Shamian, which was then an anchorage for thousands of boat people. The territory was divided into two concessions given to France and the United Kingdom by the Qing Dynasty government in the 19th century. Trading companies from Britain, the United States, France, Holland, Italy, Germany, Portugal, and Japan built stone mansions along the waterfront. The construction on the island was characterized by climate-adapted but Western-plan detached houses with hipped roofs and large verandahs. The main buildings have plaques stating the year it was constructed and it’s origin.
After 1949, the mansions of Shamian became government offices or apartment houses and the churches were turned into factories. But later they were restored, in many cases to their former splendor, with each building labeled as to its former purpose. One may start to imagine the stories staged in the building while seeing the plaque writing about its previous function, like “No.7 North Shamian Avenue” (Built during the Republican period, formerly the Administration Bureau of Broadcasting of the Nationalist Government).
Since the early 2000s, Shamian Island has become well known for the many Western couples who reside there while seeking to adopt Chinese babies and young children, most of whom are orphaned and female.
Shamian Island is the home to many extraordinary trees, many of them as old as 200 or 300 years…! Most of them have a small sign attached to them telling the age of the tree… Many tropical varieties can be found such as the famous banyan trees that have populated this region of China for ages…
The island was awarded to the British and French after the Opium Wars and European style architecture abounds here and the colonial influence is evident in houses, villas, churches and tennis courts. The French Catholic Church on the main street of the island is a nice example of the European influence. There is also a lovely park just off the main street.
Those looking for authentic embroidery need to visit Shamian Island. Embroidered items can also be found on Jiaoyue Road and Xinhu Lu at the night markets. These night markets will start at dusk and go until midnight. This is a great way to do some shopping and see some of the nightlife. A few other noteworthy markets include New Haiyin Wool and Cloth Exchange Square, Huangsha Pen and Stationary Wholesale Market and the Huahan Antiques & Jade Market.
Features of Shamian Island in Guangzhou
History says that Shamian Island in Guangzhou was offered by the Qing Dynasty to the European and American colonial forces trading in Guangzhou in the 19th century.
You will find lot of buildings including churches displaying the western architecture.
Spot several bronze statues including the one entitled “A gentleman, a lady and a darn woman” depicting a Western couple watching a Chinese women mending cloth.
Another statue shows Chinese women in different postures like in traditional clothing, in a cheongsam and in shorts.
As you go towards the northern side of Shamian Island in Guangzhou, you will find Shamian Park from where you can have a clear view of Guangzhou.
|How to get to Shamian Island|
|Shamian Island: Take Metro Line 1, get off at Huangsha Metro Station, Exit D to reach Shamian Island after walking on the pedestrian bridge.(Guangzhou Metro Map)|