Nantou Ancient City Tours – Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
Nantou Ancient City
About this place
Located in the far west of Shenzhen, close to the east bank of the mouth of the Pearl River, is the ancient city of Nantou (a.k.a. Xin’an city). Nantou is one of the earliest urban areas in what is now Shenzhen and was a busy commercial port in the Ming Dynasty. Excavations in this area have revealed evidence of civilization as far back as the Shang Dynasty (1700 –1100BC), contradicting the traditional believe that until relatively recent times Guangdong was a forlorn wilderness to which errant officials were exiled.
Nantou is still home to thousands of residents today. They mostly live in modern apartment blocks within the city’s ancient walls. Between the functional white-tiled blocks, architectural gems from bygone days, such as the Dongguan Clubhouse, Sir Xinguo’s Shrine and the Baode Shrine, are preserved. Conspicuous for its European style, the Foundling Hospital is a reminder of foreign influences in this part of China. Today, it functions as a church for Nantou’s Catholics.
A museum, located near the South Gate provides an excellent insight into the city’s past with dozens of excavated artefacts on show. Unfortunately, the captions have not yet been translated into English. The RMB20 entrance charge includes a bilingual map of Nantou.
If you prefer to experience history with a sense of continuity, Nantou Ancient City is a treat. This is a lived-in, historical area, as opposed to a museum-type showpiece. Life goes on, somewhat changed, somewhat the same, in its narrow alleys: Farmers sell vegetables in the arches of its gates, as they have been doing for centuries; The heaps of fresh incense ash in its ancient shrines indicate that these deities are still being worshiped; Children play in streets pungent with the smell of the same foods their ancestors cooked and ate; and, open doorways provide flashing glimpses of meals being prepared, intense mahjong games and other scenes of family life. The contrast with the wide soulless roads and department stores outside its gates is dramatic.
For a similar but quieter experience check out Dapeng Ancient City.
Nantou’s South Gate can be entered from Shennan Boulevard, the far western end of Shennan Road, close to its intersection with Nanxin Road. Bus nos. 201, 301, 305, 310 and 355 go in this direction.
Alternatively, Nantou can be entered from Zhongshan Park from its south side.
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