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Harbin Attractions and Things to See
Harbin is the biggest
city and capital of Heilongjiang province, in northeast China,
that sits on the southern bank of the Songhua River, with a
staggering population of 9.87 million people, but still only the
tenth biggest city in China; although it is a communications,
economic, scientific, cultural and key political center for that
region. Harbin is originally a Manchu word that means "a place
for drying fishing nets", it is well known for its bitterly cold
winters and sometime referred to as the "ice city". It has
become famous for its beautiful ice sculptures that are carved
out during the winters, and has become a significant partner in
the Sino-Russian trade business. It was considered the fashion
capital of the nation, during the 1920s, because any new designs
from Paris and Moscow would arrive here first, before going to
Shanghai; and today, it is in the contest for hosting the 2022
Winter Olympics. Its earliest inhabitants date to at least 2200
BC, which would be during the late stone age, and had been
called, Pokai. With that in mind, the history and heritage of
this great city is enormous and contains many fabulous ancient
structures and relics. The modern city would actually begin in
1898 as a small village, and established by a Polish engineer,
named Adam Szydlowski after the destruction of the Chinese
Eastern Railway that had been financed by the Russian Empire
that had been just an extension of the Trans-Siberian Railway
that had made a link to the port city of Dalny and the Russian
naval base at Port Arthur.
The city has become a significant refugee hub for the East European Jews, which is how the distinct architectural style of the city shows an unusual combination of European and oriental architecture styles, and quite well known for its distinct Russian and other European-influenced architecture. Zhong Yang Street is one of the finest streets in the city for museums with European architectural styles, that include Byzantine and baroque facades, French fashion houses, small Russian bakeries, American eating establishments and Japanese restaurants. Saint Sophia Cathedral, a Russian Orthodox church is located in the central district of Daoli, and would need nine years to build, being finished in 1932; but is now a museum, with outstanding multi-cultural architecture that stands out in the city. Numerous citizens believe the church has damaged the feng shui, an ancient system of aesthetics, that uses the laws of heaven or astronomy and earth or geography, to help improve life by getting positive qi or energy; so they donated funds to construct a Chinese monastery in 1921, the Ji Le Temple. The city had over 15 Russian Orthodox churches and two cemeteries until 1949, when Mao's Communist Revolution would destroy some of them so that there are just 10 today, however, services are only held in the Church of the Intercession in Harbin.
The city's culture has been influenced by the Manchu culture, the Russian culture and the Han culture, which has created a variation of cultures that continue to influence the food, customs and architecture; and even now, it is still quite considerate of its Russian past; once a vessel under its rule, the city now is a trade partner with the Russian nation. Since the city is located in the far northeast corner of China, it is also influenced by the extremely cold winters of Siberia, with its average summer temperature is 72 degrees F, and almost the same in minus degrees in the winter. It does help the excitement and interest of winter sports, which is why it has opted to become a candidate for the winter Olympics.
The local cuisine is fabulous, with so many influences, and has created some outstanding flavors and dishes that any visitor should have a great time exploring and trying out the various choices. Some of the examples include; da lie ba, a type of bread that is special to the city and is round with a unique European flavor, with a hard exterior and soft insides that the children and older folks seem to really enjoy. Lao ding feng cake is a famous ancient cake shop in the city that produces all types of cakes and breads, but moon cakes are the most favorite, that is crisp, tasty and soft. The Red intestines is originally from Russia, with a century old history, and is dry and flexible, with plenty of nutrition and said to be a favorite of the nation, and eaten with the da lie ba, you have a great meal. Su he li is another type of bread, then you have chicken braised mushrooms, three delicacies on the earth or di san xian that includes, eggplants, potatoes and green peppers, with soy sauce and salt.