Wuhan is a triple-city, consisting of the European Treaty Port of Hankow 漢口, the ancient Shu 蜀capital of Wuchang 武昌, and the industrial heartland of Hanyang 漢陽. While there is little to see in Hanyang, a trip across the Yangtze River to Wuchang is a must for anyone in Wuhan.
Wuchang dates back to 221 B.C. during the Eastern Han dynasty, and is one of the oldest cities in China. Before it was Wuchang, it was also the site of the capital of the Shu Kingdom; and evidence of the very eerie, alien and un-(Han)-Chinese Shu culture still exists in the city’s excellent Hubei Provincial Museum.
The most famous attraction in Wuchang, which has been a famous attraction since the Tang Dynasty, is Yellow Crane Tower. While the present tower was rebuilt in the Nationalist era, a Yellow Crane Tower has existed since 223 A.D. and was successively rebuilt with each new Chinese Dynasty.
Wuchang was also the epicentre of the Chinese Revolution. The Wuchang Uprising 武昌起義was the precursor to the Xinhai Revolution 辛亥革命 that toppled the Qing Dynasty. And the most significant landmark from the era is the former Hubei Military Government building, where the Republic of China was established on October 10, 1911. The building is in the Nationalist style – a mix of European and Chinese architectural elements.
Wuchang also plays host to a European residential area in today’s Tanhualin 曇華林District. It predates the establishment of the Treaty Port of Hankow, and was where Wuchang’s missionary establishments and consulates were situated prior to Hankow and even up until the Communist era. Today it has been restored and transformed into a pedestrian shopping street.
Finally, no visit to Wuchang would be complete without trying some typical Wuchan dishes – in particular Wuchang Fish 武昌魚 – steamed river bream from the region – which was one Chairman Mao’s favourite dishes. He wrote a famous line of poetry about it:
“I have just drunk the waters of Changsha, and eaten of Wuchang Bream.”