Many visitors only pass through Nánjīng (literally 'Southern Capital') when travelling from Shànghǎi to Běijīng (or vice versa), but the capital of Jiāngsū, lying on the lower stretches of the Yangzi River, boasts a surprisingly rich, impressive and extant historical heritage. The major attractions are the echoes of the city’s brief, former glory as the nation’s capital during its Ming-dynasty apogee and then as the capital of the Republic of China in the early years of the 20th century. A magnificent city wall still encloses most of the city, and elegant republican-era buildings dot the centre.
Nánjīng may sprawl today, but the atmosphere is both cultured and relaxed. This famous university town has wide, tree-lined boulevards, chic cafes and excellent museums, set in a beautiful landscape of lakes, forested parks and rivers. The city’s pleasant wutong trees afford glorious shade on hot days and lend the city a leafy complexion, although summer temperatures are poleaxing.