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5 Nanjing sites off the beaten track

Cultural and natural treasu res minus the throngs of tourists

These attractions are great choices for wanderers looking to explore the length and breadth of the city.

Yuejiang Pavilion (阅江楼)

The grand structure is probably the best known on the list, but it’s not as packed as other famous attractions, and it makes a great backdrop for a pleasant and peaceful hike.

On a good day, the seven-story pavilion, perched on the peak of the 78-meter Lion Mountain, delivers a panoramic view over the Yangtze River and downtown.

Yuejiang Pavilion, meaning the “River Viewing Pavilion” in Chinese, has been mentioned by a number of ancient literati, but for some reason the actual structure never really existed.

The current pavilion was built in 2001 with modern techniques to fit the ancient descriptions.

202 Jianning Road, Xiaguan District 下关区建宁路202号; admission: RMB 40 (US$6.4); open daily from 7:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. (April-October), 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (November-March).

Yihe Road Former Legation Quarter (颐和路公馆区)

Bordering Jiangsu Road to the east and Xikang Road to the west, the 600-meter-long Yihe Road and its offshoots form Nanjing’s most walkable neighborhood.

These little-trafficked, tree-lined streets were the legation quarter and high-end residential area when the city was capital of the Republic of China in 1930s and 1940s.

Most of the original villas remain standing until today and have become textbook examples of Republican architecture, which combined broad European strokes with intricate Chinese detail.

Some structures have been revamped and are closed to visitors while others are still homes for ordinary Nanjing families.

Yihe Road between Jiangsu Road and Xikang Road, Gulou District 鼓楼区江苏路和西康路之间

Stone City Park (石头城)

The free public park provides a chance to see remains of City Walls from two different dynasties: a red sandstone fortress from the Wu Kingdom stands side by side with a grey-bricked fortification from the Ming Dynasty.

The weather-beaten Wu City Wall was carved directly out of the mountain in China’s Three Kingdoms Period nearly two centuries ago.The 3,000-meter-long site was part of the Stone City, an ancient town built on the 100-meter-tall Qingliang Mountain.

In front of a pond near the north end of the fortress, there is a wall stone whose silhouette rather resembles a human expression. Locals dub the scene“a grimace looking into a mirror.”

Stone City Park, Gulou District 鼓楼区石头城公园; free

Jiangxin Island (江心洲)

Half an hour away from Jianye District by ferry, the farming island on the Yangtze River feels a world away from urban Nanjing to its east or west.

The best time to go is between July and August when the Nanjing government hosts the annual Grape Festival.

Visitors can taste, buy and pick a wide range of grapes in vineyards, from the purplePing Pongball-sized breed to the smaller creamy green type. The day-trip can be wrapped off with a local farmhouse meal, featuring shrimp and fish caught fresh from the Yangtze.

Other recreational facilities include the Folk and Culture Village and a forest park at the southern tip of the spear-shaped island.

Urbanization on the island is progressing fast.

To go to the Jiangxin Island, take the ferry at Mianhuadi Wharf. Ferry operates from 5:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m. Fare for a single trip is RMB 1 (US$0.16)

International Aviation Martyrs’Cemetery (抗日航空烈士公墓)

The secluded complex at the north foot of Zijin Mountain might be the only war monument in the world to commemorate the military alliance of China, Russia, the United States and Korea (before the North and South split).

Two 15-meter-tall stone tablets were built to mourn the 3,305 pilots from these countries who lost their lives mainly fighting against the Japanese invasion in China between 1930s and 1940s.

Around them stand 10 three-meter-tall marble walls, inscribed with the martyrs’ names, hometowns and years of birth and death.

The complex also contains two semi-underground museum halls which present the remains and backgrounds of these formidable airmen.

No. 289 Jiangwangmiao Road, Xuanwu District 玄武区蒋王庙街289号; free admission; open Tuesday-Sunday from 9:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.