A bit of history and culture at Shanghai parks

Take some time off from the daily schedule and head to one of Shanghai's parks. Come back refreshed, recharged and inspired.

Parks are a great place to get refreshed, recharged and inspired. They detoxify anyone who come for refuge among the green woods, often times, in the sunset glow with the lazy stray cat snoozing on the bench.

Here are some Shanghai parks with distinctive elements that offer city dwellers a quiet place to relax and also a moment of inner peace to meditate in the urban jungle.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Residents living nearby enjoy winter sunshine at Huoshan Park, once a major recreational place for Jewish refugees in 1930 Shanghai.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

This two-story building, which used to house Jewish refugees, has been kept intact.

Huoshan Park

Sitting on the junction of Huoshan and Zhoushan roads, the park is squeezed among the rows of old shabby bungalows built in the 1930s. But it holds an important position in Shanghai’s history — the park was once a major recreational place for Jewish refugees who sought sanctuary in Shanghai during World War II.

From 1938 to 1941, more than 20,000 European Jews took refuge at Huoshan and Zhoushan roads. In 1943, the Japanese invaders restricted the Jews in an area of approximately one square mile in Hongkou District, called Shanghai Ghetto.

The park, located in the center of the ghetto, became the only gathering place and recreational center for Jewish people. Today, it is shaded with thick green trees and purple wisterias that crawl along the shelves and walls. A black memorial at the center of the park reminds visitors of the bygone years.

Seen from the park, a three-story building sits nearby. It’s the former office of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee which sponsored a relief program of US$400,000 for 15,000 refugees in Shanghai from Central and Eastern Europe.

Address: 118 Huoshan Rd, Hongkou District

How to get there: Take Metro Line 12 and get off at Tilanqiao. From Exit 1 walk about five minutes.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Zhabei Park is the city’s only park with a theme of tea culture.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A statue of "Sage of Tea" Lu Yu (AD 733-804)

Zhabei Park

It’s the city’s only park with a theme of tea culture, highlighted by a giant bronze tea pot sculpture at its southern square. There is a stone statue of Lu Yu (AD 733-804) at the end of the cobblestone path. Lu is respected as the “Sage of Tea” for his contribution to Chinese tea culture, and known for his monumental book, “Classic of Tea,” the first definitive work on cultivating, making and drinking tea.

The sage, dressed in a long robe, sits among the flowers, one hand on the knee and the other holding a tea cup. In front of him, a teapot is boiling. Behind him, a wall displays the entire tea-making procedure — tea planting, picking, transport, processing, boiling and tasting.

As a matter of fact, Zhabei Park was originally called Song Garden, built to remember Song Jiaoren (1882-1913), a Chinese revolutionary and a founder of Kuomintang. He was assassinated in 1913 and buried in the garden.

Sometime in the 1950s, the place was renovated into a park with a tea house, reading rooms and public facilities. The original building remains intact.

Address: 1555 Gonghexin Rd, Jing’an District

How to get there: Take Metro Line 1 to Yanchang Road and then walk about five minutes from Exit 2.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

A man practices martial art in Xiangyang Park.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

An elderly man practices Chinese calligraphy in Xiangyang Park.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Xiangyang Park

Located close to the busy Huaihai Road, Xiangyang Park is shaded with French phoenix trees. Built in 1941 only for French children in Shanghai, it was not opened to the general public until January 30, 1942.

The park features symmetrical, balanced European-style architecture, including straight roads, square lawns and a fountain. But there are also Chinese elements, such as a delicately carved pavilion with a painted lantern on the roof.

The park is famous for its corner for go (Chinese chess) game, which draws go-playing amateurs and professionals. Some of the veteran go masters such as Rui Naiwei and Chang Hao were once regular at the park.

During the “cultural revolution” (1966-76), the corner was shut down but go players still practiced in the corridors, under trees or on the bench. The tradition carries on today, especially on Sundays.

Address: 1008 Huaihai Rd M., Xuhui District

How to get there: Take Metro Line 12 to Shaanxi Road S. and walk about five minutes from Exit 10.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Jiuzi Park features traditional games that used to be played in Shanghai alleyways of shikumen (stone-gate) houses in the1960s,

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Jiuzi Park

Themed around the “nine games” that used to be played in Shanghai longtang (alleyways) of shikumen (stone-gate) houses in the1960s, Jiuzi Park by the Suzhou River brings back golden memories among the city’s elder generation.

The old games were revived and fixed by nine sculptures made of bronze, steel and granite. 

People shuttle back to the innocent days of yore simply walking among the sculptures ─ boys rolling iron hoops, girls kicking shuttlecocks, skipping rubber bands or playing marbles.

Today it’s an autumn routine that citizens get together in the park to take part in the games and renew their childhood memories. 

Address: 1018 Chengdu Rd N., Huangpu District

How to get there: Take Metro Line 13 to Shanghai Natural History Museum and then walk about 10 minutes from the Exit 3.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Paotaiwan Wetland Park has been designed as an ecological park with natural forests and wetlands.

Wang Rongjiang / SHINE
Wang Rongjiang / SHINE

Paotaiwan Wetland Forest Park

At the meeting point of the Yangtze and Huangpu rivers with almost 2,000 meters of coastline, Paotaiwan was once a vital military fortress, functioning as a gun battery base during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) at the Wusong Bay. 

Today, it has been designed as an ecological park with natural forests, wetlands, isles and home to wild birds.

With the lush green Paotai Hill as the backdrop, the park is an ideal place for people to fly kites, have picnic, walk dogs, jogging or just take in some fresh air and enjoy some moments of peace.

Children can learn the history of the Chinese military as well as the Yangtze River formation in the Paotaiwan Museum.

Address: 206 Tanghou Rd, Baoshan District

How to get there:

By public transport: Take Metro Line 3 and get off at the Shuichan Road Station. Shift to bus Baoshan No. 11.

By car: Take Yixian Road Highway and get off at the Shuichan Road. Drive along the Tongji Road and turn right to Shuangcheng Road. Again turn right to Tanghou Road.

Zhang Suoqing / SHINE

Three buildings in Guangfulin Cultural Relics Park have been constructed under water.


Zhiye Temple in Guangfulin park is named by a monk called Dazhi during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).


Guangfulin Cultural Relics Park

About 4 kilometers from the foot of Sheshan Hill, the park showcases ancient civilization and will be open to the public next spring.

The site includes a cultural zone, a farmland protection area and an old watertown providing Chinese-style accommodation outside the park. In the farm zone, rice, corn, sunflowers, pears and peaches will be cultivated.

Located on the banks of the Shenjing River, Guangfulin was a traffic hub of yore. It became known as an archeology site after farmers in the late 1950s accidentally discovered relics from a culture that thrived some 4,000 years ago.

The cultural zone will be the highlight of the park with more than 20 themed museum areas and memorial halls. They will include the Museum of Guangfulin Archeological Remains, a memorial hall dedicated to Songjiang poet Chen Zilong (1608-47) and the Fulin Porcelain Museum.

The museum complex is in the shape of three ancient jars, earning it the nickname “jar museum.”

Each building in the park is constructed with old bricks, tiles and wooden posts collected from nearby villages. All the materials are more than 100 years old. The site will have cobblestone streets and buildings with whitewashed walls and gray roof tiles in the architectural style of old Anhui Province.

When the archeological site was discovered in 1958, farmers dredging a new waterway found ancient pottery shards. In 1961, archeologists began the first systematic excavation of the site, unearthing a large volume of pottery vases, spinning wheels, cooking vessels and dishes.

The park, located on Guangfulin Road, is comprised of two underground layers. The first covers about 10,000 square meters, with the second about 7,000 square meters. The greater park area has two tombs — one contains the skeleton of a pig, and the other holds the remains of a dog.

Archeologists also unearthed sharpened stone weapons and tools like axes, knives, chisels and shovels. The excavation work stretched from 1961 to 2008. A large number of bronze shards, wooden craft items and turtle shells, which were used to foretell the future in ancient China, were found.

The renovated park will include a 40,000-square-meter parking lot — said to be the largest of its kind in China.

Address: At the junction of Chenta and Guangfulin roads, Songjiang District

How to get there: 

By public transport: Take Metro Line 9 to Songjiang University Town. From Exit 2 walk about two minutes to take bus Songjiang No. 15 (heading Songjiang Bus West Station) and get off at East China University of Political Science and Law. The park is another 10 minutes’ walk away.

By car: G50 Highway — Jiasong Road Middle — Jiasong Road South — Shenzhuan Road — Longyuan Road — Guangfulin Road

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