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Shamian Island: Taste of Europe Found in an Oriental City
Shamian (沙面), also known as Shameen in the past, was once a concession of Britain and France. However, during the revolution, some of them have been lamentably destroyed and only about 50 survived. They are now well reserved as a community.

Updated:1326771847Source:Lifeofguangzhou.com

Every time travelling, you might have to take a map or perhaps a watch with you to ensure the direction and time limitation. But here in Shamian Island, drop these things because anywhere or anytime you bump into, you will find surprise.

Shamian (沙面), also known as Shameen in the past, was once a concession of Britain and France. In the 19th century, 19 countries built here their consulates, chapels, banks, post offices, hospitals and other facilities. However, during the revolution, some of them have been lamentably destroyed and only about 50 survived. They are now well reserved as a community unique with European-style façade: new Baroque, imitative-Gothic, Roman arcaded, neoclassical and Chinese-Western-combined, attracting visitors at home and abroad. But Shamian, which is connected only by a bridge with the outside world, is never crowed with people or vehicles. Residents there live a peaceful life. Cafes, studios, galleries, small shops quietly set up.

Architecture
Architecture tells history in a silent way. The Red Mansion in 6 Shamian Street, tells a story of 100 years old. Built in 1904 by an Australia architect Arthur W. Purnell, it used to house the foreign officials who worked for the customs. As its name implies, its wall and roof were in red color; it also displays distinct regional characteristics. As the weather in Guangzhou is hot and humid, the building is ventilated. Yet it is much more like a work of art than a dwelling place. Instead of commonly-used granite, Purnell put a white brick between each two red bricks, which embellishes the whole structure. And because of the classic European style, Red Mansion now becomes the most popular background of wedding photos.

 


Night scene
Night scene in Shamian is charming, yet it never shouts its beauty to the public as does the bund. The light on is shy and quiet, as if the sound from a phonograph, murmuring. Under the light, take a walk along the riverside with the waves beating the shore gently; you might feel the heart calm and peaceful.

Shops
Places for shopping are easy to find. Stores cast casually along lanes and corners for the convenience of visitors. Most of them provide items featured with Chinese culture such as silk, china, Qipao (a close-fitting Chinese dress with side vents), sword, paper fan. But remember, since these shops particularly target foreigners, they probably demand a high price at the beginning. You should really bargain at this time like everyone in Guangzhou does. Cantonese likes bargaining.

As you wake up from Shamian Island, the outside world you see might be different.

Transportation: Metro Line 1 Huangsha (黄沙站)

(By Tan Wanbin and Stephen Roberts)
Editor:Lynus Tan
 
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