An important port lying at the confluence of the Yangtze and Han River, Wuhan is an amalgamation of three older cities. The metropolitan area consists of three parts – the ancient Wuchang, Hanyang, and Hankou founded in 1861 when it became a treaty port for foreign trade. Linked by bridges including one of the first modern examples in China, the city has been subject to numerous devastating floods, which it is hoped will be controlled by the controversial Three Gorges Dam Project, completed in 2009.
Site of the first uprising of the 1911 Revolution that led to the fall of the Qing Dynasty and the formation of the Republic of China, Wuhan and its proximities were embroiled in conflict in the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1938. Having fallen to the Japanese, Wuhan became a major Japanese logistics centre for operations in southern China. In December 1944 the city was largely destroyed in U.S. firebombing raids.
Points of interest in Wuhan include the Hubei Provincial Museum, one of China’s best; Mao’s Villa – a hideaway used by Mao Zedong between 1960-1974 and for prolonged periods during the Cultural Revolution; Yellow Crane Pavilion – a reconstruction of a 3rd century edifice; the impressive Yangtze Bridge; Guiyuan Si – an ancient temple; and the colonial architecture of Hankou, the site of the former foreign concession. The best examples are located between the river and Zhongshan Dadao. The vast Old Customs House is an impressive Renaissance-style building with Corinthian capitals and grey-stone portico.
About 100km northwest of Lijiang in Yunnan province is where the Yangtze River’s upper reaches, the Jingsha Jiang, channel with ...