Shanghai Attractions: Xintiandi
The Xintiandi development was something of a first in China. As blocks of traditional shikumen ("stone gate") houses were being torn down in the 1990s, two blocks were saved from the wrecker's ball. The original roof tiles, antique walls and exteriors were preserved, while the interiors were modernized to become trendy bars, up-market restaurants and an art gallery.
The area is completely car free and the narrow alleys (longtang) are prefect for strolling and open out into a central square.
There is both indoor and outdoor seating and the area is a good place to unwind from the hustle and bustle of contemporary Shanghai.
The Shikumen Open House Museum (11am-11pm; daily; Tel: 021 3307 0337 ) is in a renovated Shikumen house built in the 1920s in the northern block at Xintiandi. The exhibits in the rooms include genuine household items from the 1920s and 1930s, showing how a typical family lived in Shanghai at that time.
One of the rooms in a shikumen house was known as tingzijian - a small room at the turn of the stairs, above the kitchen that was often rented out to single lodgers. These small rooms were often taken up by artists, writers and political dissidents fleeing unrest in other parts of China in the 1930s. "Tingzijian Literature" is the name given to works of writers such as Ba Jing, Lu Xun and Ding Ling, who lived and worked in these small rooms.
The nearest subway station to Xintiandi is South Huangpi Road on Line 1. Xintiandi is on Zizhong Lu.