As with many large cities in China, life in Nanjing can get pretty hectic at times, and it’s always nice to get out of the city and escape into nature. Nanjing’s Qiqiaoweng Wetland Park (七桥瓮生态湿地公园) offers the perfect solution for anyone experiencing inner-city blues. Qiqiao, which translates as “seven bridges,” is named as such due to the park featuring seven 600-year old bridges that originate from the Ming Dynasty. During that time, Qiqiaoweng was used as a military base defending the southern entrance to Nanjing, which proved as a vital defence for the people of the city.
Qiqiaoweng Wetland Park. Photo: Xici.net
The wetland is divided into four different areas that make the trip even more fruitful. There’s a “free roaming experience” area where visitors can simply stroll around and soak in the nature, an ecological science and technology area and a gallery section where visitors can learn about the history of the local Mei family. The park also serves as a romantic setting for couples from near and afar, and it’s not too rare to stumble upon soon-to-be brides and grooms getting their pre-wedding photos taken. As with many parks and open spaces in China, there are some nice spots for an afternoon picnic with friends, as well as a place to rent bikes if you’re keen to explore the depths of the park with the wind in your hair.
If you’ve got kids in your company, it’s worth entering the park from the east gate. This area of the park, which previously featured a small zoo, now houses an amusement park for children, which is sure to keep the kids occupied for a few hours. Remember though – no over 15s are allowed!
For the slightly older adventure-seekers, Qiqiaoweng doesn’t disappoint either. There’s an area that features meter-wide wooden planks stretching across the water that connects with several little islands scattered around the park. Walking on the planks, you’ll feel as if you’re walking on water as the very essence of the wetland park lies directly under your feet. The park also has its fair share of modern, with plain abstract looking sculptures dotted around, which contrast interestingly with the historic backdrop of the park.
Fuel up on history, in the near future
Following on with the theme of abstract design in the park, there’s a science museum in the center of Qiqiaoweng that is designed in the shape of an insect climbing up a leaf. Who knows, perhaps it’s a metaphor relating to science and its pursuit for discovery of knowledge? Unfortunately though, the oddly shaped building hasn’t yet opened and is closed off to the public, despite the park being open for more than three years. Perhaps like many aspects of science itself, the opening time of the museum will forever remain a mystery.
Near the science museum is a spot that is sure to please naturists, and bird lovers more specifically. There are two wooden bird observatories that have four levels for the satisfaction of those who come equipped with a pair of binoculars. Many visitors to the park don’t seem to be too interested in bird watching however, often using the wooden structure to relax and observe the surrounding natural beauty instead. It’s also worth checking out the nearby plunge pool, which was formed amid the man-made hills of the park. Some have mentioned that during its construction, the pool had an ironic beauty about it as the dust emanating from the worker’s machines floating around the pool created the illusion it was shrouded in mist. Despite this “mist” disappearing over time (perhaps thankfully so, given the health risks!) the pool still doesn’t look too bad.
One last thing: when you’re leaving the park, remember that the buses only depart from the west gate, so if you’re deep amid the wilderness it’s best to head back a little earlier, or you may end up walking home!
Add: Qiqiaoweng Wetland Park, Honghua Town, Outer Guanghuamen, Youyihe Lu, Baixia District, Nanjing
Opening hours: All day
Getting there: take bus 89, 90, 93, or 181 to Wetland Park Station (湿地公园站)
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