Strategically located between the capital city of Beijing and the Bohai Bay, it serves as an important port and a connection to the outer world. Experiencing varied climatic conditions varying from snow fall to sandstorms influenced by the Gobi Desert, placed on the banks of the River Hai and a plethora of historical and modern events affecting the land, Tianjin offers a wide spectrum of architectural marvels for an architect.
Here are the 15 places an architect must visit in Tianjin to know the city more!
1. Temple of Confucius
The largest temple dedicated to Confucius in the East Asia, the temple complex is 500 years old and houses 3 courtyards. This temple is generally located in a school and has to be entered through a gate called Lingxing Gate. Elaborately carved and pictured ridgepoles narrating the history support the gate, thus giving a rich and grand feel at the entrance. These types of Temples found in almost all the important cities in East Asia were constructed during the reigns of the kings from Ming dynasty. Certainly, a great specimen of traditional Chinese architecture and a visit to this heritage site can give a perspective of their rich history and culture.
2. Guwenhua Jie, Ancient Culture Street
Located near the Temple of Confucius is Guwenhua Jie, an ancient Culture Street in the old part of Tianjin. A perfect pedestrian street for shopping and getting beautiful Chinese artefacts, it reflects the classical Qing dynasty architecture. Dotted with temples, along the banks of River Hai, a splendid and colourful entrance beckons us inside. The Temple of the Queen of Heaven forms the geographical centre of the street. It’s a treat for the architects to wander on this street just to soak into the quintessential Chinese beauty, admire the cultural nuances, experience the authentic folk style along with the local arts, crafts and snacks!
3. Yuhuangge Taoist Temple
The temple along with the Tianhou Palace, is one of the oldest structures in the Guwenhua Jie, Ancient Culture Street. It is built during the Ming dynasty. Considered to be the largest Taoist temple, it’s still standing intact after 600 years. A magnificently constructed 2-storey structure, the visitors can see the entire street while standing on the 2nd floor of the temple. An amazing foreground offers a good view to this burgundy colour structure with an intricately detailed eaves board and the canopies. It stands as yet another specimen of Chinese traditional religious architecture in the older parts of Tianjin.
4. Tianhou Palace
The Palace was constructed in the early 14th century during the Yuan Dynasty, thus being a 700-year old structure. Was previously known by many names, one of them being the Western Temple and built to worship the Sea Goddess. Facing the east, with the Hai River flowing in front of it, the palace’s main function used to be to pray for safe navigation into the Bohai bay. Serves as a key to the cultural relics found in the city, it has been converted into a folklore museum for the public now. The ancient and typical pointed conical ridge roofs supported by the colourful wooden beams and rafters and a long-standing stone structure is indeed a treat to visit.
Yet another gem of the city, a traditional residential and market town, Yangluiqing is famous for its woodcuts and wood block prints using vivid colour schemes portraying traditional scenes of games interwoven with auspicious objects that are sold during the Chinese New Year. The main attraction of this town is Shi Family Grand Courtyard, which used to belong to the former residence of a wealthy merchant Shi Yuanshi – one of the eight great masters of Tianjin. A beautifully preserved site showcasing the traditional symmetric residential planning with courtyards, imperial gardens, grand entrances and a typical pre-revolution Chinese mercantile spirit. Divided into different areas having single-storied structures, part of it has been converted into a museum for the visitors to experience the Shi family culture along with the period furniture, paintings and the Shifu Garden. Believed to be the first mansion in North China, Yangluiqing is certainly a place not to be missed!