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Shanghai's main streets and back roads give an immediate feeling of old versus new. The old consists not so much of Chinese style buildings as European buildings, and while it might seem that temples would be a great place to visit to find older buildings, many of these have been rebuilt in the last forty years.
The Bund is the showcase of European buildings, and it follows right along the Huangpu River. The area is both scenic and extremely well lit at night. In fact, on a busy weekend night police try to limit the crowding along the river walkway, so you may have to wait if you head to this popular pedestrian strip in the early evening. The buildings here are now occupied by several companies and some government offices, and if you walk along the Bund at the top of the hour, you can hear the bell tower ring out the tune “The East is Red.” One of the key features of the Bund is the contrast it provides. The Puxi side of the river, with the former British settlement, is a preserved historic site, so no new development can happen in a way that cuts the classic buildings off from the river. While strolling the Bund walkway the view across the river shows an amazing contrast of contemporary or even space-aged looking buildings. This is a great view of Lu Jia Zui.
A short ferry ride from The Bund will put you in Lu Jia Zui, but take some time to enjoy the view of the buildings from The Bund side before heading over there. The Oriental Pearl Tower is probably the most noticeable building, and street vendors everywhere in Shanghai sell models and balloons of this architectural model. You may not think it's beautiful, in fact many people don't, but you must admit the structure is unforgettable. At night there is an impressive light display on this building, as well as large tv projections off the Aurora building in Lu Jia Zui that are easily viewed from The Bund. Also in Lu Jia Zui is the tallest building in Shanghai (at least for the next few years, plans are underway for a taller Shanghai World Financial Center): the Jin Mao Building. Interesting modern buildings are all around Shanghai, all you need to do is look up while touring the city. The Bund Center, a block in from The Bund, stuns with its crown top, the J.W. Marriott looks like something directly out of Gotham City, and city buildings like the Shanghai Museum stun with the meeting of old and new – a modern building in the style of a classic Chinese vessel.
Xin Tian Di is certainly worth a visit not only because of the interesting shops and bars, but also because of the architecture. The older buildings in this area were built in the mid 1800s as a fusion of European and Chinese architecture. The newer buildings towards the back of the complex show the ultra-modern style Shanghai currently promotes.
Other areas for European architecture include parts of Huai Hai Road and Heng Shan Road. These areas run through the former French Concession, though most of the interesting buildings were estates rather than public buildings. Today many countries' embassies are found in this area, some interesting night clubs can be found, the former house of Premier Zhou Enlai (a historic site), and some private residences.
Jing An Temple is an easy site to visit by subway or bus, and it is a reinvented temple. This is a prime example of a classical building that is not so old, so it is technically not so classical. The building was originally a temple, converted to a plastic factory, and then re-opened as a temple in the 1980s. The complex underwent another rebirth in 2002-2003 as the complex was expanded and areas rebuilt to bolster up the building next to a large shopping center next door.