Tuesday, December 12, 2006

She Shan, Shanghai, China - 2006

She Shan is about 35 kilometers to the west of the city center of Shanghai. The She Shan area has the only hills close to Shanghai and has been developed as a tourist spot complete with cable chair lifts, man-made lake, bamboo forest, go-kart track, Zoo, obstacle/fitness course, butterfly gardens, and resorts.

Weeding through tourist traps, one can find a few gems.

She Shan Cathedral

far view

On top of the Western She Shan (100 meters tall) is the She Shan St Marian's Cathedral. The original mission was founded in 1871 by French missionaries. The current building was started in 1925 and completed in 1935. It is mixture of western and Chinese architectural style. The outside is mostly red brick.

front view

back view

The inside is plain, but solemn.

inside view

The church suffered much damage during the Cultural Revolution. The stained glass windows were smashed. The Madonna & Child statue on top of the steeple went missing. Today the stained glass windows have been replaced with some beautiful modern stained glass (no photos allowed). Madonna & Child has returned.

madona

Outside the Cathedral, at a lower level, there are the Trinity Pavilions. These open-air, standalone shrines, housing statues representing the Christian Trinity, are unusual for a Christian church.

jesus

Each May, pilgrims descend on the Cathedral to celebrate the birthday of Saint Marian.

She Shan Observatory

observatory

The Observatory was founded around 1898 by French Missionaries. It was the first modern observatory in China. Today, with its proximity to a smog-ridden metropolis, it no longer serves as an observatory and had been turned into a museum. Visitors are treated to various exhibits and artifacts. The most notable is the historic telescope. Also of note is the semi-restored interior of the colonial building with its wood trim and corner fireplaces.

telescope

Specifics

Western She Shan hill is surrounded by a wall. There are four gates; that is to say, admission booths. Most bus dropoffs are at the Main gate, near the bottom of the cable chair lift. There are also the North gate (Go-kart track, obstacle source and zoo) and the West gate. The admission is 30 RMB (no chair lift) - 40 RMB (chair lift included). The admission price includes the observatory museum.

The fourth gate, between the Main gate and West gate, is the Believers gate. The gatekeeper lets in adherents for free. Just say that you are a "believer".

Transportation

She Shan can be reached by a number of buses. Regular city buses (6 yuan - every 10 to 15 minutes) can take up to 2 hrs to reach She Shan. The less frequent "Sightseeing Bus #1B" (8 yuan - every 30 minutes - from Shanghai Indoor Stadium) takes pretty much the same route, has fewer stops, and arrives a little faster. Buy your tickets on the bus, not at the ticket counter where they may try to sell you a combined roundtrip bus ticket plus site admission. Regardless of which bus you use, just tell the ticket taker you want to go to She Shan and you will be dropped off at the main gate. The best view of the Cathedral and Observatory is from the bus as you are approaching She Shan from Shanghai. The return stop is just across the street.

The city is building the Metro out towards She Shan. The whole scenic area will have two separate stops.

Food

There is a row of restaurants on a side street across from the main gate. The first restaurant in the row (happens to have car parking in front) is not recommended. The owners are a little greedy. A couple doors down, a small place run by a kind couple serves home-cooking food (e.g. vegetarian dishes for two for 32 yuan)

No comments: