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Taste the Italian flavor in Tianjin

Post Date: 2020/09/02 15:46
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Tianjin is an attractive coastal city, only 120 kilometers away from China's capital, Beijing. It is also a city famed for history and culture, boasting up to 15 cultural streets. One of them is Italian Style Street, so named because it was where the former Italian concession was located. It has now become a famous tourist attraction due to its Mediterranean-style layout and architecture, receiving thousands of travelers each day from all over the world.

Italian Style Street, next to the Tianjin Railway Station, is situated in the city's Hebei District, nestled within Shengli Road, Jianguo Avenue, Wujing Road and Boai Avenue. More than 100 historical buildings are preserved in the street, each with its unique story. In addition to consulates, churches, hospitals and malls, two well-known examples of public architecture are also there: the building housing the former North China Water Resources Commission which was home to a dozen water resources engineers and the Italian Merchants Club through which various Italian arts and cultural practices found their way to China.

The former Italian concession, with its avant-garde designs and well-planned and convenient layout, was the residential area of hundreds of renowned Chinese people, with more than 30 celebrities' former residences designated as cultural relics under protection. Among the celebrities were Liang Qichao, a great thinker of modern China; Cao Yu, a world-famous Chinese playwright; and Lu Hefu, Lou Chenghou, and Yu Min, all members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Others who lived there included Hua Shikui, a calligrapher, and Ludovico Nicola di Giura, an Italian doctor who translatedLiao Zhai Zhi Yi,or Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio,into Italian.

The Marco Polo Square, permeated by a typical Mediterranean atmosphere, is the centerpiece of both yesterday's Italian concession and today's Italian Style Street. One corner of the square is occupied by the Italian garden and the other three by six villas in three groups, all named after Greek and Roman goddesses. Originally built by Italians, these villas were later sold to the Chinese, which epitomizes the changes in modern Tianjin and even modern China.

Nine western countries at one time had concessions in Tianjin. Their names were changed to erase the vestige of colonialism when the Chinese government took them back, with only Marco Polo Square retaining its name because of its cultural value. The roads in Italian Style Street got their names from the philosophy of Sun Yat-sen, pioneer and leader of China's republican revolution. The vertical roads are called Minzu (nationalism), Minquan (democracy) and Minsheng (people's livelihood), corresponding to the Three Principles of the People developed by Sun; the horizontal ones are Jianguo (development of China), Guangming (hope), Minzhu (democracy), Jinbu (progress), Guangfu (liberation), Ziyou (liberty) and Boai (fraternity), which are all core philosophies endorsed by Sun Yat-sen as elaborations of the Three Principles of the People.

China recovered the Italian concession in 1946. After the founding of the People's Republic of China, its buildings were used not only for living but also as government offices and factories until 2003, when they were transformed as part of Italian Style Street. Nowadays, the street not only attracts tourists from all over the world but is also an excellent film location that has been featured in such notable movies or TV series as China 1911, Empire of Silver, The Last Tycoon, The Story of a Noble Family and Forever Enthralled.

From: exploringtianjin

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