Old West Gate
On the morning of 28th May, 2016, Changde’s largest shantytown transformation project of distinctive Changde style was finished. Old West Gate, located in the west of old town of Changde, was in operation. With a total area of 87000 km2, Old West Gate is now largely revitalized: a City Moat of 500 m was restored, over 1000 households moved back. It is a place with relatively complete traditions, a tourism resort of profound historical and social value and a cultural and tourism complex witnessing the past, the current and the future of Changde.
After the operation of Old West Gate, a wide range of themed activities have been launched, for example, Old West Gate Craft Fair, Old West Gate Folk Music Night, Old West Gate UED Architecture Commentary where 20 odd China’s media and great architects was invited to make comments on Old West Gate, as well as Joint Job Fair held by over 20 enterprises and offering a hundred jobs of different walks. The coming of Tonino Lamborghini, the high-end luxury hotel from Italy, also showed that Changde has close ties with international community.
Wandering along the main alleys, strolling in charming boutiques and specialty shops of every description, savoring buildings and architectures of varied styles, and finally enjoying yourself with palpable snacks. What a day! Here in Old West Gate there are many wonderful architectures with distinctive Changde features pleasing visitors’ eyes such as Yin House, Hot Pot Museum, Moon Tower, Air Bridge and Gourd-Shaped Square.
Yin House, or Yin Courtyard, is referred to as Changde’s special residential building with a long history and the most suitable for the local climate and life. And its standing building, Yin House Museum, is unique in its integrated style between tradition and modernity, winning the Architectural Design Gold Award of China Academy of Architecture.
The red Hot Pot Museum takes on a peculiar shape--hot pot, a kind of local dish in Changde. With spiral stairs equipped, it looks of great artistic atmosphere. Such a fascinating place is of course not just a place for appreciating but a paradise for foodies as it serves a large variety of delicious Changde food.
Where can you appreciate Changde Sixian (Silk String Opera), enjoy the great Huagu Opera--Woodcutter Liu? Here in the Old West Gate there is an ideal place for this recreation among the busy city. That is Changde Sixian Theater. Here you can either enjoy local performance with Changde features, or have a tea break, escaping from the hustle and bustle of the outside world.
Old West Gate also offers a sketchy picture of valuable Chinese traditions particularly in festivals. For example, in spring festivals, the antique street is embellished with myriads of red lanterns like rosy flowers wavering in chilly winter. Multitudes of people flow into the street, celebrating the coming of a new year. Red Chinese knots and the Character “Fu” and couplets are easily available along streets. Of course, you can also appreciate performances with ancient Hunan characteristics, watch fireworks and enjoy delicious food, observing the new year with others among such a happy climate. While on Mid-Autumn Festival, people can also view lanterns of different shapes and various tints which create a brightly-lit street.
Whatever you prefer, you will never be at a loss of what to do. With the locales of this lovely street, the possibilities of fun and relaxation are endless. You can enjoy various activities such as appreciating all kinds of performances ranging from ancient Chinese flavor to exotic modern style, visiting a number of exhibitions to sense the essence of arts, savor the special dishes here, or attend a series of salons to know more about the local crafts and techniques.
Around Old West Gate, ever-changing beauty in different seasons is beyond description. Apart from natural beauty, you can also have a chance to appreciate extraordinary intangible cultural performances or crafts such as Changde Sixian, Huagu Opera, Taoyuan Embroidery and wood carving. Among them, it is worth mentioning the last two crafts. Taoyuan Embroidery is billed as “the mother of Xiang Embroidery”. It, with bright colors, reveals what the true nature is, and show birds, flowers and landscapes directly in its designs. Therefore, it is bolder than Su Embroidery which is famous for its delicate workmanship, but simpler than Jin Embroidery which shows too many earthly desires. Taiyuan wood carving with a reputation and a long history of 500 years is known for its well-skilled artisans and delicate craftsmanship.
In Old West Gate, you have opportunities to savor all kinds of specialties well-known for their palpable taste and flavor. Those time-honored brands including Wuling Winery and Spicy Salted Duck tell Changde’s life story and food history. Famous local snacks such as Leicha tea, Changde noodles, stinky tofu are so delicious that you will become addicted as soon as you have a taste. Besides, cafes, bars, home inns and other fascinating and relaxing places can readily meet varied needs of citizens and visitors. All in all, here you can drink a Leicha tea, or sip a cup of local Deshan wine with a friend or even a stranger, really enjoying the harmony and happiness of life.
Tradition and modernity intertwine intricately with each other in Old West Gate, making it a place of profound cultural deposits, a dynamic cultural museum and a weather vane of Changde, as well as a cultural and tourist cluster with such multiple functions as sightseeing, recreation, office, commerce and residence. That is, in Old West Gate, not only can you have a view of the remote past, but also sense what the future is about.