China

Tianjin: the city with no past


Dear Reader,
Where were we? Oh yes! So my friends Riccio and Mr. Ames were spending the day in Tianjin, right?

It was a very hot day and we wished to avoid the crowds of Beijing and explore something new, different. Tianjin was our choice 🙂

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View of downtown Tianjin and the Haihe River.

Tianjin, the largest sea-coast city of northern China, is located in the northeastern area of Hebei Province and borders the Beijing municipality. As per population, Tianjin is among 4th or 5th place.

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This is the Tianjin Century Clock Tower,

Thing is, dear Reader, it also came as a big surprise. The reason why I wanted to go there was due its illustrious historical heritage… and somehow I found none of it.

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It was once known as city with historical significance until it was desecrated by foreign invaders long before the foundation of People’s Republic of China. In fact, the city has been home to Italians, Germans, French, British and Japanese among others. Their presence marked the city profoundly, in fact, we felt no air of “old” or “ancient”.

Can we blame only the imperialist forces? Not really. Let’s see what’s happening today.

Temples, century-old houses and street that could still smell of old trade are basically gone here.

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The fancy Italian Style Town where many Italians used to reside. Today is Italian looking and filled and with delicatessen little shops.

The reason is simple: China’s rapid economic development drives to build, modernise and emulate the Western cultures by clearing old city quarters to make room for banks, malls, office sky-scrapers, compounds.
This moves dramatically changed the history of the city. And it’s not just in Tianjin. If you go to Shanghai you can see the same cultural massacre taking place at rapid pace for the sake of modern development.

Some say it’s because Asian younger generation don’t seem to understand the significance of preservation, while others say that maybe it is because of a Buddhist belief that says that the world is in constant change and therefore they downgrade the notion of permanence. What do you think dear Reader? I ask this because I’m partly Italian so you can imagine what value “conservation” has for me.

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Still, historical sites aside, Tianjin is blessed with variety of attractions, Tianjin is a good place to explore. The top ten  attractions are Jinmen Shijing, are Gu Wenhua Jie, Dagu Emplacement, Huangyaguan Great Wall, Dule Temple, Haihe River, Water Park, Panshan Mountain, among others. And several natural scenes of beauty as well.

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