Shenjing Village was once a little-known village on Changzhou Island, Huangpu District, Guangzhou. Recently, it rises to fame and attracts more and more tourists. Why has this village become so popular and what is so special about it?
To guide you around this village, we have a special tour guide from a local family. Before the tour, let’s get to know a little bit about our tour guide first.
Her name is Anna, a cute 1.5 years old girl who will probably speak three languages, Cantonese, Mandarin and Finnish. Her father is a Guangzhou local and mother Finnish. She was born in Guangzhou and has been living in Shenjing Village ever since then.
Anna and her parents live in the old house of her father’s family in the village, while her grandparents live in the new one next door. On the second floor of her house, there is a swing and a slide which are specially set up for Anna. Beside the house, there is a small yard which will be built into an amusement park or a garden for Anna, according to her mom Sara Jaaksola.
The first stop Anna will personally show you is the old houses around the village. Actually Anna and her parents are living in one. From these two photos, you can see the house is pretty old.
"Come to have a look at my house. It is an old house, but the inside of it has been newly decorated. My parents took a wedding picture in front of the house (see top left corner of the photo)."
There are many old houses scattering around the village. The former residence of Ling Hongnian is one of them. Ling Hongnian was the director general of the Public Security Department of Guangdong Province in the early period of the Republic of China.
The house is built with yellow and red antique bricks. The timber door is about 2 meters high. On top of the door is a stone board inscribed with two Chinese characters “愚园”, meaning “Yu Garden”.
The second stop Anna wants to show you is the ancestral halls in the village. Many of the ancestral halls have been listed as culture relic protection sites of Huangpu District. Ling Family Ancestral Hall (凌氏宗祠) is one of the representatives.
Here I am, standing in front of one of the most representative ancestral halls in the village, Ling Family Ancestral Hall. It is a historic site protected by the city. Seeing from the outside, it looks majestic. I mean I look so small by contrast.
Located near the Shenjing Primary School, Ling Family Ancestral Hall was said to be built by the 10th generation of the Ling Family during the reign of Emperor Jiajing in the Ming Dynasty (1522 - 1566). In 1861 during the reign of Tongzhi Emperor in the Qing Dynasty, villagers donated money to redecorate the hall and hung a horizontal inscribed board with three Chinese characters “笃惠堂” (du hui tang).
Different from other ancestral halls, Ling Family Ancestral Hall’s front gate is composed of granite door frame and teakwood door plank, decorated with brass sheet and door brake. So it looks more dignified. In the main hall, there is a gilded statue of Ling Houfeng, the first ancestor of the Ling Family.
After another redecoration in 2009, the hall has become a place of cultural activity for the villagers. In the hall, they read, view exhibitions, watch opera performances, or raise dragon boats at the pond in front of the hall.
"This hall is not big, but there are many interesting stuff inside. You can even borrow books for free. How amazing that is! When I come here to take this photo, a dog is resting in front of the gate. It is so cute. "
In the village, there are two Wenchang Pagodas, one located in the Wenchang Pagoda Park, and the other one on the south side of the village. The one in the park is the original one. It has never been rebuilt or relocated. In recent years, it was redecorated once. And now it is a historic site protected by Guangzhou City.
The three-story Wenchang Pagoda is a pavilion style tower with brick-wood construction. The ground floor has a diameter of 6 meters, and the highth of the tower is 18 meters.
Here are some old photos of the towers. There used to rivers around the towers.
In Shenjing Village, ancient alleys can be seen in many places. The paths of the alleys are built with large black bricks, winding around the village. In some alleys, there are long stone benches where the aged sit for a rest or drinking tea. Many alleys are very narrow, and some only allows one person to walk through once.
Almost all alleys have a gate. The gate is commonly built with red sandstones and black bricks. On the gate, there is also the name of the alley. Of course different names have different meanings. For example, Qugeng of the Qugeng Gate means happiness, deriving from The Book of Songs.
Apart from the ancient buildings, the rural sceneries are also worth visiting. Shenjing Village is a green water village. You can hear dogs barking and chicken crowing. You can see rivulets and farmlands. In the field, farmers can be seen from time to time, even when it is raining.
Shenjing Village is located at the southwest of Changzhou Island, Huangpu District. The village covers about 2.6 square kilometers, with a permanent resident population of 12,000. Since the end of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), descendants of the Ling family have been living here.
Self-driving: from downtown Guangzhou, go through the Higher Education Mega Center to get to the village or take the ferry boat from Yuzhu Wharf (鱼珠码头) or Xinzhou Wharf (新洲码头) to get to the island.