By Catherine Watson
Shanghai is a city of contrasts and nowhere is this more evident than along the waterfront boulevard known as the Bund. The area was part of the city’s British Concession from 1846 and later witnessed a building boom as Shanghai grew and became an important financial centre at the turn of the 20th century. The promenade, along the west bank of the Huangpu River, is lined with European banks and trading houses, in neoclassical, gothic and baroque architectural styles.
The Bund offers stunning views of the city’s commercial district, Pudong. Among the buildings dominating the skyline are the world’s first triple-adjacent super-tall towers. The Jin Mao Tower, the Shanghai World Financial Center and the Shanghai Tower are each more than 300 metres tall.
In April 2017, the observation deck on the 118th floor of the Shanghai Tower opened to the public.
The French Concession
In 1849, the Shanghai authorities conceded territory for a French settlement, consisting of a corridor along part of the lower Bund, spreading west. Many Western-style homes were built here, with London plane trees imported from France to shade the streets.
Several Art Deco buildings from that period remain, including the Astrid Apartments, created in 1933 by a renowned Russian architect, Alexander Yaron. Another Art Deco landmark is the Cathay Theatre cinema, which was renovated in 2003.
One of the most impressive art museums in Shanghai is the Power Station of Art. It is the first state-run museum dedicated to contemporary art in mainland China. Opened in a former power station in 2012, it has 15,000 square metres of exhibition space.
At night its 165-metre tall chimney is lit up — a piece of art in its own right.
Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Shanghai is its metro system. At 588km it is the longest in the world and it has more than 300 stations. It is a cheap and efficient way to navigate the city — an unlimited day pass costs Rmb18 ($2.70) — and has an estimated 9m daily users.
Photographs: Johannes Eisele/AFP/Getty Images; Waterwatermine/Dreamstime; Pxhidalgo/Dreamstime; Dreamstime