Everybody has heard about Wuhan. This big Chinese city has become famous overnight due to the novel virus. But few people know what Wuhan is all about. Located in the middle of China, in one of the country’s main traffic corridors, Wuhan serves as a major connection between east, west, north, and south. Nature wise, Wuhan boasts water all around. The Mighty Yangtze River crosses the city center, and lakes extend in all directions. Additionally, the city has an impressive European heritage, a lovely Old Town, and superb ancient temples. We believe these are the 10 most interesting facts about Wuhan city.
01 Wuhan Is China’s Ninth Largest City
Wuhan is China’s ninth-largest city trailing behind Chengdu and Nanjing. According to the last Official Census of 2010, the urban population of Wuhan was 7.5 million people. At that time, 9.8 million people lived within the Wuhan Administrative Area. According to the latest estimates, the urban area of Wuhan is now the home of some 8.4 million people. Just like most other big Chinese cities, Wuhan’s population is overwhelmingly Han Chinese. Of the more than 60,000 ethnic minorities living in the city, we find Hui, Tujia, Manchu, Zhuang, and Miao people.
02 It Was China’s Capital
Three urban areas separated by the Yangtze River and its largest tributary, the Han River, made modern-day Wuhan. These are the historic cities of Wuchang, Hankou, and Hanyang. In 1926, China’s nationalist authorities merged the three cities into one and created a new national capital, Wuhan. The word Wu is short for Wuchang, and the word Han, for Hankou and Hanyang. Wuhan was the capital of the Kuomintang nationalist government from December 1926 to September 1927. During that time, the city was officially called the Capital District. When the nationalist party split, Chiang Kai-Shek formed a new government in Nanjing, and Wuhan lost importance.
03 Wuhan Is Directly Related to the Fall of Chinese Monarchy
At the beginning of the 20th Century, Wuhan became the epicenter of China’s history. More specifically, Wuchang, one of Wuhan’s original three cities. On October 10, 1911, Chiang Kai-Shek took arms in what would be called the Wuchang Uprising. It was the beginning of the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing Dynasty that ended the kingdom. Since the revolution was successful, other provinces soon followed. By January 1st 1912, 18 provinces seceded from China and formed the Republic of China. The Qing Dynasty officially abdicated the following month. The ever-powerful mighty kingdom was over.
04 The City Center Is in Hankou
Before coming together to become Wuhan, each original city had its own city center. Hankou was the most prosperous one, dubbed the Chicago of China. The city was home to foreign concessions for over 60 years. The British were the first to open a concession, followed by the Russians, French, Germans, and Japanese. Fortunately, several buildings from that period have survived, especially inside the former British concession. Today, neoclassical, art nouveau, and modern Chinese buildings dot the area. The city’s most famous landmark is the historical Hankou Customs House, built in 1924, next to Jainghan Road, the most important commercial street. The city’s best restaurants and eateries line nearby Jiqing Street. At night, the citizens of Wuhan flock to the city center to enjoy colorful folk performances.
05 Several Lakes Surround Wuhan
Wuhan occupies an enormous territory of roughly 8,500 km2 (3,300 sq miles). The terrain is mostly alluvial plain, with hills, lakes, and ponds. In fact, the city has so many lakes that a quarter of its territory is water. Of the 200 lakes within Wuhan, the most famous ones are the East Lake, South Lake, Shahu Lake, Moshui Lake, and Tangxun Lake. East Lake is the second-largest urban lake in China. People escape the hassle of Wuhan to relax and hang out in East Lake. Friends and families visit the area’s different gardens, scenic spots, hills, and the national park.
06 Wuhan Has a Historical Core
Without a doubt, Hankou is Wuhan’s city center and most lively district. However, the city’s historical core is across the river in Wuchang. Shouyi Park is in the middle of Wuchang. This beautiful park hosts two historical landmarks: the Memorial to Wuchang Uprising and the Yellow Crane Tower. The tower’s history goes back to the year 223 AD, but the current 51-meter high structure is from the 1980s. Some of Wuhan’s oldest neighborhoods are to the north of the park. Particularly interesting is Hubu Alley, a 100-year-old street full of eateries of all kinds. The city’s best historic architecture lines nearby Tanhualin Art Street. It’s an architect’s dream best discovered walking.
07 Old Temples Dot Wuhan
Wuhan has a plethora of historical temples in all colors, shapes, and styles. Probably the most unusual one is the oddly shaped Gude Temple. This beautiful structure incorporates elements of Burmese, Indian, and Western architecture. Hanyang’s nicest temple is Guiyuan Temple, built in the 17th century. On the other hand, the current appearance of the Baotong Temple comes from a brilliant reconstruction done in 1952. However, the seven-story Hongshan Pagoda in the temple is the original one from the 13th century. Nearby Wuying Pagoda is also from the 13th century, but much smaller. Finally, the 12th century Changchun Temple is Wuhan’s main Taoist temple.
08 Wuhan’s Contemporary Architecture Lags Behind
Wuhan doesn’t excel in contemporary architecture, though its skyline looks modern. During the last couple of decades, the most celebrated architects on earth rushed to build projects in the biggest cities in China. Not in Wuhan, where architecture seems a bit dated. Fortunately, it seems things are changing. The city is carrying contests to develop new commercial areas. That said, Wuhan does have outstanding buildings. The monumental New Wuhan Train Station follows the architecture of the Yellow Crane Tower. The station’s nine sections represent nine Chinese provinces. Slightly bolder is the red 1911 Revolution Museum, a building commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Wuchang Uprising. Its triangular V shape communicates with the surroundings, recreating the historical events that took place in the city.
09 The Largest Dam in the World Is Near
Wuhan has a special relationship with the Yangtze River. It is the only big Chinese city developed entirely around it. Besides, it is also its largest port city. The most scenic river cruises along the Yangtze start in Chongqing and end in Wuhan. On their way, they pass through the iconic Three Gorges Scenic Area. The Qutang, Wu, and Xiling gorges cover more than 120 kilometers (75 miles) along the river. Besides their natural beauty, the three gorges are culturally and historically important. Since 2003, the enormous Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest power station, occupies the central area of Xiling Gorge.
10 Wuhan Metro Is China’s Fifth Largest
When Wuhan opened its first metro line in 2004, it was the 6th metro system in Mainland China. Since then, the system has grown immensely. In fact, Wuhan’s metro is today the fifth-largest in Mainland China, with 339 kilometers, 9 lines, and 228 stations. Actually, considering the number of stations, it is the fourth-largest system in China. Out of its 9 lines, 8 are urban, and 1 is suburban. Wuhan metro line 1 is particularly scenic, since it lies entirely above ground. On the other hand, lines 2 and 4 are mostly underground. Finally, Hanyang has a state of the art tramway. The entire system is modern, efficient, and safe.