THE SHANGHAI BUND

After a hectic two-day stay in Xi'an we flew to Shanghai which is the third of nine cities in our 15-day tour of China. We landed at the Shanghai International Airport just before noon on Tuesday, the 20th of October, 2009, and proceeded directly by tour bus to see the Bund which is one of the most famous tourist destinations in Shanghai.

The word "bund" means an embankment or an embanked quay, and comes from the Urdu word band, meaning an embankment, levee or dam. The Shanghai Bund is an area of Huangpu District in central Shanghai which centers on a section of Zhongshan Road within the former Shanghai International Settlement and runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River, facing Pudong, in the eastern part of Huangpu District.

The Bund was once a muddy towpath for boats along the river. It was where the foreign powers that entered Shanghai after the Opium War of 1842 erected their distinct Western-style banks and trading houses. From here Shanghai grew into Asia's leading city in the 1920s and 1930s, a cosmopolitan and thriving commercial and financial center. Many of the awesome colonial structures you see today date from that prosperous time and have become an indelible part of Shanghai's cityscape.

Today, a wide avenue fronts the old buildings while a raised promenade on the east side of the road affords visitors pleasant strolls along the river and marvelous views of both the Bund and Pudong across the river. Pudong's new skyscrapers and modern towers dominate today's skyline, but the city's core identity and history are strictly rooted in this unique strip on the western shore. For years, the Bund was the first sight of Shanghai for those arriving by boat; it should be your first stop as well.

The Bund stretches one mile along the bank of the Huangpu River. Traditionally, the Bund begins at Yan'an Road in the south and ends at Waibaidu Bridge in the north, which crosses Suzhou Creek. It usually refers to the buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas. Along the Bund there are various buildings of different architectural styles such as Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque, Neo-Classical, Beaux-Arts, and Art Deco (Shanghai has one of the richest collections of Art Deco architectures in the world). Alongside Huangpu River the Bund once was the financial center of the Far East. It is considered the city's symbol since the 1920s. It is often referred to as "the museum of buildings", as many different styles of European buildings can be found here.

Now it is even more attractive as you can also see modern skyscrapers just opposite the Huangpu River. That gives you a strong contrast between modern life and the past.

The Shanghai Bund has dozens of historical buildings, lining the Huangpu River, that once housed numerous banks and trading houses from Britain, France, the U.S., Russia, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands and Belgium, as well as the consulates of Russia and Britain, the Shanghai Club and the Masonic Club. It lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. This was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. A building boom at the end of 19th century and beginning of 20th century led to the Bund becoming a major financial hub of East Asia. The former French Bund, east of the walled city was formerly more a working harbourside.

We were given only an hour to spend time at the Bund that I was able to take just a few photographs which you can view by clicking on the link shown below:

The Shanghai Bund