Nanchang Travel Guide

Last updated by fabiowzgogo at 2017/6/19

Nanchang Overview

Nanchang, built on the site of a much smaller ancient city by the name of Gan, is the capital of Jiangxi Province (the name "Gan" is a shortened version of the name Jiangxi, and it also stands for the name of one of the dialects of Mandarin Chinese, the dialect spoken in Jiangxi Province, especially in the area around the present-day city of Nanchang, and to round out the influence of this name, it is also the name of the river on whose banks the city of Nanchang is situated). Nanchang is the political, economic and cultural center of Jiangxi Province. Nanchang has a long, illustrious history and a splendid culture, and has a multitude of traditional buildings. The city has won a present-day reputation as "a place blessed with a rich culture, talented people and economic prosperity".

A Brief History

When the city of Gan was walled, around BCE 201, i.e., during the Western Han (BCE 206 - CE 009) Dynasty, its name changed to its present-day designation of Nanchang, meaning "Large, Prosperous Southern Dominion". The city became the seat of a military outpost, or commandery, Yuzhang Commandery, which later, in CE 589, during the Sui (CE 581-617) Dynasty, became Hongzhou Prefecture. In CE 763, during the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty, the city became the center of Jiangxi Province. In CE 959, during the Southern Tang (CE 937-975) Kingdom of the Ten Kingdoms (CE 907-979) Period, the city became Nanchang Superior Prefecture for a short stint, during which time it served as the capital of the Southern Tang Kingdom, before it was renamed Hongzhou Prefecture once again, in CE 981, after the Song (CE 960-1279) Dynasty emerged (note that the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms (CE 907-979) Period was an unstable interregnum between the Tang and Song Dynasties).

In CE 1164, during the Longxing (CE 1163-1164) Reign of Emperor Xiaozong of the Southern Song (CE 1127- 1279) Dynasty (Emperor Xiaozong reigned a further two periods, the Qiandao (CE 1165-1173) Reign and the Chunxi (CE 1174-1189) Reign), the city was renamed Longxing Superior Prefecture, a name it retained through to the close of the Yuan (CE 1279-1368) Dynasty. Thereafter the prefecture's name reverted to the earlier Nanchang designation during the Ming (CE 1368-1644) Dynasty (the city was in fact fought over by Ming Dynasty Emperor Taizu (aka the Hongwu Emperor), whose personal name was Zhu Yuanzhang, and a local warlord and rival, Chen Youliang, though Zhu Yuanzhang prevailed... to read more about this battle, read the "Lake Poyang's Military History" section of the article here).

Later still during the Ming Dynasty (during the early 16th century), the city became a short-lived power base for yet another warlord, the fourth Prince Ning of Nanchang, whose 43-day rebellion was put down in CE 1519 during the reign (CE 1505-1521) of Emperor Zhengde. The rebellious Prince Ning of Nanchang otherwise belonged to a lineage of scholars and poets (his great-great grandfather, Zhu Quan - an esteemed scholar who had aided Emperor Zhu Di, the Yongle Emperor, in taking the throne from another and much younger family member, Emperor Zhu Yunwen, the Jianwen Emperor, who ruled from CE 1398-1402 as opposed to the reign (CE 1402-1424) of Emperor Zhu Di - was the first Prince Ning of Nanchang), though this particular apple seems to have fallen quite far from the tree.

Nanchang found itself in the middle of the Taiping Rebellion in the middle of the 19th century, and in 1927 it was the theater for the Communist Party inspired - and organized - insurrection, the Nanchang Uprising of 1927, yet led by officers under the Kuomintang who were sympathetic to the communists and who received military-tactical help from a young Soviet Union. In 1939, a major battle was played out in Nanchang, the Battle of Nanchang, between the National Revolutionary Army (the National Army of the Kuomintang) and the invading Imperial Japanese Army, during the Second Sino-Japanese War, which was a prelude to WWII in the Pacific (one sometimes forgets that for the Chinese, WWII began much earlier than it did for the Allied Powers in the Pacific... the Americans, and thus the Allied Powers, would first declare war on Japan after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December of 1941).

Present-Day Nanchang

Nanchang has a lot of tourist attractions. Bayi Square, located in the center of the city, is a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of the surrounding areas of this industrial metropolis. Bayi Square is so large that it can hold at least 100,000 people (it is second only in size to Tianamen Square). In the southern part of the square stands a Memorial Tower to the 1927 Nanchang Uprising. Nanchang's tourism industry has been developing rapidly in recent years, with many historical sites either completed or currently under renovation. In the vicinity of Nanchang are located a number of famous world heritage sites such as Mount Lu, Poyang Lake Migratory Bird Conservation Area, Mount Longhu, Ching-Kang Mountain, and Mount Sanqing. The city is a major transportation hub, partly owing to its manufacturing role and partly due to its role as an emerging tourism center. There are air links to all the major airports in the region and all of China's major cities, just as the city has a well-developed network of rail links to the region and beyond.

The pride of the city of Nanchang, however, is Tengwan Pavilion, which dates back to CE 653, when it was built during the Tang Dynasty. The pavilion was immortalized, as it were, in a poem by the famous Tang Dynasty poet, Wang Bo, who, in CE 675 wrote the classic, Tengwang Ge Xu ("Preface to a farewell feast atop the Prince of Teng's Pavilion in Autumn", or "Preface to the Prince of Teng's Pavilion", for short). Tengwan Pavilion is prized for its breadth, its height, and its distinctive architecture. It has been destroyed many times during its long history. It current reconstruction stems from the 1980s. The city is also home to the Star of Nanchang, the world's largest - and thus tallest - Ferris Wheel.