After taking just a short walk southwest of the Notre Dame des Victoires, you will be confronted by a colorful arch, the entrance to the Ancient Culture Street (Gu wenhua jie).
Like its counterpart in Beijing, the famous Liulichang, it reflects the authority's effort to recreate an ancient Chinese street of the 19th century in modern high-rise Tianjin. Although everything here is not real, you can still appreciate the protruding balconies and carved columns of the red and green wooden shops with their nicely tiled roofing.
"Antiques" here are generally expensive, but if you are a connoisseur of bargaining, you can still find some good souvenirs at a reasonable price. Some good shops worthy of being mentioned include the Nirenzhang Clay Figurine Shop, Yangliuqing New Year Poster Shop and Tianyige Four Chinese Writing Tools Shop.
Within the confines of the street is the Tianhuo Temple (Tianhou gong), paying tribute to the Goddess of the sea. The temple was apparently built in 1326 AD in deference to the heavenly Goddess and in hope of protection for Tianjin's oceangoing population. Since then the temple has been renovated a number of times. In 1984, it was turned into a museum displaying local customs, including some fine examples of the Tianjin clay works and woodblocks from the nearby village of
Address: Wenhua street (Wenhua jie).
How to get there: A short walk east of the Confucius temple, or a taxi ride from the railway station. The street is situated in the northeastern quarter of Tianjin, beside the Hai river.
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Like many other cities with a fairly long history, Tianjin also boasts a large palace-like Confucius Temple (Wen miao).
No one is clear when the temple, the largest ancient complex in the city, was first built, but 1743 is generally regarded as the year the temple started to attract the attention of the public.
The construction in existence is composed of walls, ponds, an ancestral hall (paying tribute to Confucius) and the Dacheng Hall (a place for ancient students to pray for great success in their academic study).
The temple was restored and opened to the populace in 1993 and is worth a look for those who are in the vicinity.
Address: 1 Zhongmen Li
How to get there: One street west of the Ancient Culture Street.
Opening hours: 9am-5pm
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Dagu Fort (Dagu paotai), erected on the southern bank of the Hai River, is 60 kilometers southeast of the city proper. Originally there were forts on both sides of the river built in the sixteenth century, but in 1901, the one on the northern bank was ordered to be dismantled.
The current one was first built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and underwent several renovations in the Qing Period (1644-1911 AD). However, despite all the efforts the feudal emperors made to protect the city from invasion, the formidable-looking stronghold was not overly successful; the Europeans overrun the city with ease in the nineteenth century, doing further havoc to the capital and razing the Yuanmingyuan Garden to the ground.
Today the fort is an interesting sight for a day trip, about 50km, from the city proper in a town called
How to get there: The fort is located in the Tanggu Development Zone, a harbour 40km east of Tianjin. From the Tianjin Railway Station buses to Tanggu are available every 30 minutes. After arriving at Tanggu, the only proper way to get to the fort is taking a taxi, this costs around RMB20
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Tianjin's famous Buddhist Grand Mercy Monastery (Dabeiyuan) is located beside the Haihe river on Tianwei Lu.
The temple belongs to the Buddhism Zen school, it is one of the biggest and best preserved Zen Temples in northern China. The temple comprises of two parts, the old Temple in the west courtyard and the new Temple in the east courtyard. The original structure was built in 1669 during the Qing Dynasty.
The new wing of the temple was added to the old temple in 1940, although much of the temples buildings were restored after the Tangshan earthquake in 1976.
However, the gold-gilded Sykiamuni statue in the hall of the new temple was an antique of the Ming Dynasty and is beautiful to behold. The temple is also famous for a series of Buddhist carvings.
Address: 40 Tianwei lu.
How to get there: Just north of the Notre Dame des Victoires, following the river.
Opening hours: 8am-4pm.
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Located in the northwestern part of the city, the Great Mosque (Qingzhen si), is a fine reflection of Chinese Muslim architecture.
Construction of the compound began in 1644 during the Qing Dynasty. The mosque consists of four major structures, the screen wall, the front hall, the praying hall and the preaching hall.
All the constructions are sumptuously decorated with colored paintings, Koran scripture carvings and banisters, and a total of 61 horizontal plaques and couplets with both Chinese and Arabic inscriptions.
Nowadays the mosque remains an active place of worship for Tianjin's Muslim community and so entrance to the building can be difficult to obtain. You are free to walk the grounds which are interesting in themselves, little alleys surround this religious stronghold.
Address: Xiaohuo Lane in Hongqiao District, just off Dafeng lu.
How to get there: Take the subway and get off at the western end.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm
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