Bordering the southwestern end of the stylish French Concession and a zip away on the metro from People’s Square, Xújiāhuì (徐家汇) was known to 1930s expats as Zicawei or Sicawei.
Accessed directly on the metro at its namesake station, the area is dominated by giant, glittering shopping malls, circling a five-way intersection that’s insanely busy, even by Shànghǎi standards. It’s one of the most popular shopping areas in the city, especially for designer gear and electronics, and gets packed at weekends.
The vast majority of people come here today to shop, but a sense of history still clings to the neighbourhood – Xújiāhuì was originally an attractive Jesuit settlement and dates back to the 17th century. The architectural heritage from this period and a clutch of engaging museums make for a rewarding day out, although, as elsewhere in Shànghǎi, you have to explore a bit to pull all the historical threads together.
History, heritage architecture, green lawns and academia converge on the tranquil campus of Jiāotōng University along Huashan Rd, north of the main Jesuit sights, while a host of local dining options offer plenty of cheap eats.
Further out from Xújiāhuì, South Shànghǎi is marked by one of the city’s most famous temples, the ancient Lónghuá Temple and its pagoda, while the new West Bund area is rapidly developing into an impressive contemporary art hub.