When planning a vacation in Harbin, don’t even expect to see traditional Chinese pagodas or the emperor’s palaces. You will not find even numerous Buddhist temples that are so typical for other Chinese cities. You will visit the capital of Heilongjiang, the northernmost province of China. The Great Wall separates this region from the real Chinese life. At some time in the past, Harbin was under Russian influence. That is why it is possible to see many buildings and architectural landmarks typical for Siberia. This is particularly true about the old part of the city. Currently, Harbin is the largest city in Northeast China.
If we compare Harbin to other cities in China, we will notice that its history is not so rich because this is a relatively young city. Harbin was a small village until the time when the Russian Empire decided to build the Trans-Siberian Railroad. At that time, mostly fishermen and their families lived in the settlement. At the end of the 19th century, when the Qing dynasty was the ruler of China, Russia got permission to build a railroad in this part of the country. The road was to cross the territory of North Manchuria. This fact helped Harbin to become a large transportation hub.
Do you want to learn more about the history of Harbin? In this case, visit the Saint Sophia Cathedral that is closed nowadays. In the past, this Russian Orthodox Cathedral was a part of the Manchuria diocese. The total area of this gorgeous building is more than seven hundred square kilometers. The height of the building is almost fifty-four meters. It is really unusual and even strange to see a true landmark built in accordance with Byzantine cannons of architecture in a Chinese city. Nowadays, tourists can attend an art gallery dedicated to the history of this region, as well as the culture and traditions of Harbin.
The Harbin Siberian Tiger Park is another interesting place to visit. Initially, this park was established to preserve the endangered species of animals such as the Amur tiger or the Siberian tiger. However, ten years after the opening of the park, the city’s authorities decided to turn this national reserve into a real tourist attraction. Now residents and guests of Harbin can relax in the park, and the money got from visitors is used for maintenance purposes.
In modern days, the Siberian tiger is an endangered species, so the government tries to help the beautiful striped felines to survive. Initially, there were only eight tigers in the park, but their number has increased significantly over the years. Nowadays, almost three hundred tigers live in Harbin Siberian Tiger Park. They occupy a territory of 144 square kilometers. This is the largest nature reserve protecting the Siberian tiger in the world. Tourists can visit all parts of the beautiful park but they need to stay alert because tigers are potentially dangerous predators.
The Jile Temple of Harbin is a true symbol of the city. This is the largest Buddhist temple in Heilongjiang. The temple was built in the 20s of the previous century. This is a wonderful example of traditional Chinese design. The height of the building is thirty meters. The bronze statues of Buddha and bodhisattva are truly impressive and catch the eye of all visitors.
The temple is very big and consists of numerous halls. When you cross the Mountain Gate, you will enter the Heavenly King Hall. There is a statue of Maitreya Buddha in the center of this hall. Continue your walk and you will reach another hall. This is the biggest hall in the temple and the place that people visit to pray. There is also a statue of Buddha in the center. This time, this is Gautama Buddha. Besides the halls mentioned above, there are many other interesting halls in the temple. An interesting fact – there is a statue of Buddha in the center of each of them.
There is an international airport in Harbin, which is the largest airport in Northeast China. Every day, airplanes from two hundred international airports located in one hundred different countries arrive at Harbin International Airport. That is why tourists are unlikely to experience any problems with getting to this city. Once you land in Harbin, you can take a taxi to the city center – there are always many taxi cars waiting for passengers. Of course, it is possible to use public transport. As a rule, these are buses that take passengers to every part of Harbin.