Most famous for its 70 or so active springs, Ji'nan, nicknamed "City of Springs," is the provincial capital of Shandong. In the tourist stakes it is overshadowed entirely by its coastal rival, Qingdao, but this modern and easygoing metropolis can be a pleasant base if visiting nearby Taishan. Ji'nan's three main sights are Thousand Buddha Mountain, Daming Lake, and Baotu Spring Park. These and a handful of other attractions easily occupy visitors for a day or so.
In 1901, Ji'nan was hauled into the 20th century by the construction of a railway linking it to German-controlled Qingdao. European and Japanese companies found Ji'nan to be a convenient place to do business. A few buildings from this concession era remain in the downtown area, although they are increasingly overshadowed by new shopping centers and hotels.