Shanghai walks: Hongkou

Enjoy a cultural crawl through Hongkou

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Starting point Dong Baoxing Lu station
End point Hongkou Football Stadium station
Walking time 2 hours


Outside exit 1 of Dong Baoxing Lu station, cut directly across Hailan Xi Lu and head north along Baoshan Lu. After 150 metres, turn right onto Hengbang Lu, a charmingly ramshackle street where ladies in striking pyjamas patrol fruit and vegetable stalls, fishmongers and steaming vats of dumplings. At the crossroads with Dong Hengbang Lu, turn left and continue until the road opens up onto the comparatively manicured Duolun Lu. To the left is the pricey but still lovable Old Film Cafe (10am-midnight daily), next to the Xi Zhi Zhong Lou bell tower.

Q. At the entrance to the Old Film Cafe, a statue of which actor waits at the door?


In the 1920s and ’30s, Duolun Lu – then known as Darroch Road, and part of a wider Japanese concession – was home to writer Lu Xun and his progressive, left-leaning writerly cohorts such as Mao Dun and Ding Ling. Duolun was anointed a ‘culture street’ in 1998 and has since undergone a major refurbishment which has left it somewhat sterile.

One of the few highlights is the Hong De Tang church at number 8, built in 1928 and an unusual combination of Christian church and traditional Chinese temple. From here, turn back and follow the road as it swerves north. The dusty old antiques dealer at 179-181, on the left, stocks a glorious jumble of vintage postcards, 1930s lampshade bases, broken typewriters and sewing machines, which are worth a browse. Keep on and take a left up Lane 201, where you’ll find the neo-Classical-style League of Leftist Writers building among some sleepy shikumen houses.

Q. What has the former League of Leftist Writers building become?


Look for the plaque at number 1269 that marks the former residence of poet-writer Guo Moruo, a contemporary of Lu Xun, before heading back to Duolun Lu and bearing left until the street ends. On the right, is the shabby former residence of Kong Xiangxi, a wealthy early 20th-century economist (and Yale graduate, Kuomingtang committee member and, in 1937, one-time guest of Adolf Hitler) with its alluring Moorish accents.

From here, turn right and follow Sichuan Bei Lu to the ICBC bank at number 2050, the former site of Neishan bookstore. Enter the bank and take the stairs to your left, where you’ll find a hidden museum offering a pictorial history (but no English signage) of leftist writers such as Lu Xun, Tian Han and Yu Dafu, who regularly met at Neishan in the 1930s.

Q. How many calligraphy tools are displayed in the central glass cabinet of the museum?


Continue along Sichuan Bei Lu and take a left on Shanyin Lu. Here, you’ll immediately see some superbly preserved shikumen: immediately across the street, on the corner, Lane 57 is Sida Li, built in 1900. With its rows of wooden gates and concrete frames, slightly younger but more attractive, Lane 69 is Hengfang Li, built in 1905.

Further up the road, on the left, is No 9 Continental Terrace, the final residence of Lu Xun, who died here in 1936 (open 9am-4pm daily; 8RMB/adult; free for kids under 6 years). Carry on up Shanyin Lu until you reach the buzz around number 274, the entrance to a cool, leafy neighbourhood market that connects to Tian Ai Lu, at the south-eastern tip of Lu Xun Park (6am-7pm daily; free entry). At Tian Ai Lu, turn right and walk up the street until you see Lu Xun Memorial Hall, a large white-washed building on the left.

Q. At the Lu Xun Memorial Hall entrance to the park stands the bust of a 19th-century Hungarian rebel-revolutionary and poet. What is his name?


The Memorial Hall (free entry, 9am-4pm daily) itself features uninspiring waxworks and scrolls, so head instead into the brilliant Lu Xun Park, filled with large groups of old-timers singing in quasi-religious fervour on cheap sound systems. Stay on the east side of the lake, heading north before dipping into the gardens, checking out the 1929 drinking fountain and ambling alongside the narrow stretch of water, where old folk fish and play instruments.

Before long, you’ll arrive at the China-Japan Friendship Memorial Clock, another favourite spot for crooners. Just beyond here is a small bridge that takes you onto an islet with a sweeping view of the water from atop some concrete stairs.

Q. How many steps are there to the top of the viewing platform?

Getting home

Before leaving the park, visit the ornate Plum Garden and Lu Xun’s grand memorial tomb where he was reburied in 1956. Just beyond here, the west exit from the park leads you to Hongkou Football Stadium metro station.

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