The main square contains the very best of the modern city, from
cutting-edge contemporary art to the imposing edifice of City Hall,
with the wonders of old Shanghai tucked in among the shadows.
Spend a day exploring here and you'll get close to the soul of the
DISTANCE: 2.5km (1.5 miles)
TIME: A full day
START: People's Park
END: Park Hotel
POINTS TO NOTE: Take the metro to People's Square to reach the
start (it's the main interchange, so you can take any number of lines)
or ask a taxi to drop you at the park entrance on Nanjing Road. This
museum-laden route is ideal for art- and culture-lovers, and anyone
on a rainy day.
People's Square is at the very heart of Shanghai, its exact centre and its showcase, home to
world-class museums, a theatre, five-star hotels and the imposing City Hall in the middle of it
all. The buildings, all raised in the late 1990s and each one a significant architectural state-
ment, seem to have been lifted from a futuristic urban planner's utopia. They also symbolise
Shanghai's arrival as a city that can compete on its own merit on the world stage.
Although there is little in People's Square itself to remind you of the past, this was the
Shanghai Racecourse, so brazenly bourgeois and decadent that it had to be razed and paved
over for proletarian Shanghai. Here, millionaires would ride their steeds and their wives would
wager fans and sun-bonnets because betting money was considered to vulgar. The wartime
Japanese used the racetrack as a holding camp and the post-war Kuomintang government