- Location: Lane No. 96, Shaoxing Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai
- Recommended reason: The most distinctive residential buildings with Shanghai lane characteristics
- Opening hours: All day for free
Shikumen is a new type of building that combines the characteristics of Western culture and traditional dwellings of Han nationality. Shikumen of Shanghai are mainly located in Huangpu district and Jingan district, while the one on Shaoxing Road is one of the best-preserved Shikumens in Shanghai. As the most distinctive residential house with Shanghai lane characteristics, Shikumen is regarded as one of the symbols of modern urban civilization in Shanghai.
History of Shikumen
Shikumen originated during the Taiping Rebellion. The war at that time forced rich merchants, landlords, and gentry in Jiangsu province and Zhejiang province to flock to the concession to seek refuges. Foreign real estate agents took the opportunity to build a large number of houses. Shikumen is an epitome of old Shanghai society. Over many years, in Shikumen, the local citizens of Shanghai have worked hard here, the revolutionaries have worked in secret activities here, scholars and artists have accomplished their works here. Shikumen is permeated with the most natural and simple atmosphere. It seems like a mirror that reflects the life of the old Shanghai and the changes over the years. The historical relics in Shikumen and various old stories of old Shanghai become the most vital and memorable cultural treasures in Shanghai.
The Structure of Shikumen
The buildings of Shanghai old lane are mainly Shikumen architectures. Shikumen evolved from residential houses in the south of the Yangtze River (generally refer to Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces). The door frame is made of stones and the door is made of solid thick wood with a copper knocker. The crash of the knocker echoed in the Shikumen alley when people go in or out of the door, which makes them feel in an old movie. The most beautiful part of Shikumen is the door lintel. It is well decorated that the Chinese traditional brick carving and green tiles press on the top door, which imitates the door of etiquette from the traditional architectures in south China. There is an outstanding balcony on the second floor and the style of layout is from Europe. The details of outer walls are carved with the engraved arts of western architecture. Besides, the triangle or circular-arc door is decorated with western patterns, so the most typical feature of the Shikumen residence is the combination of Chinese and Western styles.
The structure of Shikumen maintains a symmetrical layout of the central axis. The plane and space of Shikumen are similar to the two-storey triad or quadrangle courtyards of traditional Chinese architecture. When you enter the house, you will see a patio. In general, the living room lies behind the patio. Move forward, and you will see another patio. On both sides of the second patio and living room are rooms. The hearth and the back door are behind the second patio.
Highlights of Shikumen
More and more people are wandering through the century-old history of Shanghai as a nostalgist or a seeker. Many nouns are related to Shikumen, like garret, living room, patio, principal tenant, and so on, became the warm memory of local people in Shanghai. Various nostalgia films were born in Shikumen. The film "In the Mood for Love" by Wong Kar-wai was awarded as the first "Best Asian Film" by CNN. The old Shikumen of Shanghai, the cheongsam of Maggie Cheung and the perfect melancholy expression of Tony Leung Chiu Wai are intertwined into a beautiful nostalgic film. Wandering in the lane of Shikumen, you will feel as if you are walking into the movie plot.
Different visitors are attracted by Shikumen with its various characteristics. Young people like Shikumen because of those old stories and the charming mystery. Foreigners enjoy Shikumen because of the fresh feelings. However, overseas Chinese look for Shikumen because every grey brick and arched door would evoke many memories.
As a new landmark of Shanghai, Xintiandi is located in Lane No. 181, Taicang Road, Huangpu District, Shanghai. It is a leisure pedestrian street for catering, sightseeing and entertainment transformed from the unique old Shikumen building in Shanghai. Xintiandi integrates the traditional Shikumen of old Shanghai and the new architecture of modern Shanghai, which presents Shanghai's historical and cultural features. It covers a ground area of 30,000 square meters. Besides, more than 60,000-square-meter Shikumen building complex retains well, which gives tourists a valuable chance to visit the ancient brick walls and roof tiles of Shikumen, as well as walk on the grey brick footpath. Outside the door is the fascinating and charming Shikumen alley, while inside the door is a completely modern lifestyle. There are many fashion shops, international galleries, theme restaurants, coffee shops and bars inside Shikumen buildings. Visitors will have a sense of through time-space and ancient-modern transformation.
Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of Chinese
Located in No. 76, Xingye Road, Shanghai, the Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of Chinese is the birthplace of the Communist Party of China. It's a classical Shikumen building in Shanghai. There are nine buildings in two rows, covering a constructive area of 900 square meters. The outer walls are covered with grey and red bricks, inlaid with white powder lines. The door lintel is carved with patterns of red flowers. The black lacquered door is equipped with a copper knocker. It has a strong historical and cultural atmosphere.
Best time to visit Shikumen
You can visit Shikumen in all seasons.
How to Get to Shikumen
♦ You can take the metro Line No.9 and get off at Dapuqiao Station or Jiashan Road Station.
♦ You can take the public buses No. 41, 96, 301, or 955 to Ruijin Hospital Station.
♦ If you want to visit Xintiandi, you can take the metro Line No. 10 or No. 13 to Xintiandi Station.
Tips for visiting Shikumen
♦ Xintiandi has two sections. The south alley is close to Xintiandi Subway Station, mainly modern buildings, supplemented by old Shikumen buildings. Xintiandi Shopping is located here.
♦ The south alley is close to Huaihai Road Commercial District, mainly old Shikumen houses.
♦ The Site of the First National Congress of the Communist Party of Chinese closes on Mondays.
♦ Recommended Shanghai tour: 11 Days China Yangtze River Cruise Tour