Shenyang was founded about 2,300 years ago, was called Mukden between 1625 and 1644 and was the capital of Manchuria. The Manchurian Qing dynasty conquered China from here, until the empire ended in 1911 and the dynasty lost the city. This led to the end of the dynasty’s rule over China, which lasted about 300 years, and Shenyang was the country’s official capital during this time.
Shenyang is located in a moist continental climate zone, which means that the difference in temperatures between summer and winter is normally very high. The city is situated on the River Hun He, a tributary of the Liao He, which flows into Liadong Bay just 170 km away from Shenyang. While the right-hand northern bank of the river was the only area that was settled during the early period, bridges enabled people to live on the southern, left-hand side too. As a result, the city grew to its current size. With approx. 8 million inhabitants in an area measuring almost 1,300 square kilometres, the current population density is approx. 6,200 people per square kilometre.
As well as having a technical university, the city has various specialist higher education institutions, including ones for energy, finance and music. The latter was responsible for producing the world-famous pianist, Lang Lang, who is particularly popular in Germany.
The city has some major sights for people to enjoy as the cultural centre of China’s north-east region.
The Imperial Palace of the Manchurian rulers, also known as Shenyang’s forbidden city, is a unique experience. It is China’s only intact palace compound outside Beijing. It has also been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2004 as part of the imperial palaces of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
The imperial graves in and around Shenyang are another monument to the former emperors. Two of them are located within the city area, that is to say, the Dongling grave in the east and the Beiling grave in the north. Both the graves are surrounded by extensive parks and the park around the Beiling grave is about as large as Central Park in New York.
Those who would like to learn even more about Shenyang’s past should definitely go on an excursion to the four large pagodas, which are tower-like structures that are distributed in all directions of the compass. Sadly, only the northern pagoda survived the great Cultural Revolution which took place around 1966, but the other ones were rebuilt after the end of the revolution.
Bird Island Park, which is situated east of Shenyang, provides a spectacular variety of attractions. In addition to an aquarium, the International Garden Exhibition is found here and it offers some of the best features of very different gardening traditions practised in the Chinese provinces. The green spaces in Shenyang have attracted greater support during the last few years in response to the general industrial pollution. As a result, Shenyang is now known as the ‘national model city for environment protection’.
If the temperatures are too low for a sunny day at Bird Island Park, the Qipanshan Mountains, further to the east of the city, are a real alternative. They have numerous skiing pistes, which are particularly suitable for beginners, and there is an ice sculpture festival here every year. There is also a safari route with outdoor enclosures, which people can enjoy from their own car. Alternatively, there are also tours with a tourist bus for those who are interested.
The Olympic Stadium in Shenyang represents the central point of the urban landscape. It is located in the south of the city and can accommodate up to 60,000 spectators. The stadium is therefore an impressive sight.
The city’s highest building was the Liaoning Broadcast and TV Tower until just a few years ago. Although the television tower is still one of the largest structures in Shenyang, it was superseded by Forum 66 in 2014, which tops the 305-metre-high tower by a further 79 metres.
In addition to the many sights, tourists in Shenyang can also experience the variety of Chinese cuisine – and people there place particular importance on socialising. The city reveals its very special charm in the evenings: the numerous clubs, discos and karaoke bars are popular venues for the residents of Shenyang and are bustling centres well into the night. Those who become hungry from all the celebrations should make their way to the night market, which offers a wide variety of snacks from very different cities and countries.
Shenyang is just as impressive in economic terms – the city is the largest railway, motorway and air traffic hub in north-east China. Thanks to its favourable location, trade with economic powerhouses such as Japan, Russia and South Korea is extremely important, even overland. The good airfreight links, however, make the United States the city’s main trading partner. The logistics company, Rhenus, makes use of these benefits too. An assembly plant operated by Rhenus Automotive opened in Shenyang in May 2021. The plant produces the front and rear axles for the BMW Brilliance Automotive factory in Dadong district. For this operation, the company sources vehicle parts from 80 suppliers all over the world and uses its first-class connections to other Rhenus businesses.
Please log in to like and comment on this article.
Not signed up yet? Sign in