Introducing Guǎngzhōu

Issue 39, October 2011.

Not long ago Guǎngzhōu exemplified the worst of rampant urbanisation: never-ending flyovers, ugly architecture and traffic-clogged streets. Recently however, the city has rediscovered its identity and developed a cosmopolitan edge. Concrete apartment blocks give way to shiny high rises and shopping plazas. Traffic congestion has been eased by a clean, modern metro system and tougher traffic laws. Trees and flowers on roadsides and well-kept gardens and parks add splashes of colour and brighten the landscape.

The city remains as chaotic as ever, but underneath all the glitz and noise tucked away pockets still retain their character from centuries. Many of the elegant churches, villas and mansions on the former foreign enclave of Shamian Island have been restored, and hidden among Guǎngzhōu’s back lanes you’ll find homes, temples and gardens that have not been disturbed for generations.

Legend has it that Guǎngzhōu was founded by five immortals who descended from the sky on goats to save the city from starvation, giving the city the nickname ‘Goat City’ (Yáng Chéng). Goats or no goats, the first settlement on the site of the present-day city dates back to 214 BC, when the First Emperor of Qin sent his troops south to gain control of the sea.

Ideal positioning on the northern end of the Pearl River quickly made Guǎngzhōu China’s most important southern port. During the Tang dynasty (AD 618–907), this was the starting point for the Silk Passage - an important maritime route for shipping silk and other goods to the West. It was a trading post for the Portuguese in the 16th century, and for the British in the 17th.

After the 1911 fall of the Qing dynasty, the city became a stronghold for the republican forces. Sun Yatsen the first president of the Republic of China, was born in Cuìhēng village, and in the early 1920s led the Kuomintang in Guǎngzhōu, when they mounted their campaigns against the northern warlords. Guǎngzhōu was also a centre for the fledgling Communist Party, with Mao Zedong and other prominent leaders based here.

Since liberation, Guǎngzhōu (Broad Region) has put all its energies into the business of making money. Even whilst China was effectively cut off from most of the world, the Canton Trade Fair was the only place the Middle Kingdom could deal with Western businesses. Today, it remains a vital import-export centre with absolute must-see attractions; the Olympic Stadium and CITIC Plaza the tallest concrete building in the world give way to China’s tallest Canton Tower.

Of course, you can’t think of Guǎngzhōu without mentioning the food. There is food everywhere, with Cantonese cuisine at its very best. There are more restaurants here per capita than anywhere else in China. They will not let you leave the city hungry!

HOW TO GET THERE
Guangzhou's main airport is the Baiyun International Airport in Huadu District. This modern airport is the 2nd busiest in China. Turkish airlines will offer 3 flights per week between Istanbul and Guangzhou from January 30, 2011.
Baiyun International Airport has several flights per week to and from Istanbul giving you can easy access from Lviv.

Turkish Airlines’ representative office in Lviv is located at 4 Mickiewicza Sqr. and is open daily except Saturday.
For further details please call + 38032-2970849.