By World War II, more than two-thirds of Shanghai's residents lived in a shikumen, or "stone gate house." Most have been razed in the name of progress, but this 8-acre collection of stone gate houses has been transformed into an upscale shopping-and-dining complex called Xintiandi, or "New Heaven on Earth." The restaurants are busy from lunch until past midnight, especially those with patios for watching the passing parade of shoppers.
Shikumen Open House Museum. Just off Xintiandi's main thoroughfare is the Shikumen Open House Museum, a beautifully restored stone gate house (shikumen) filled with furniture and artifacts collected from the other nearby shikumen (now turned shops). Exhibits explain the European influence on shikumen design, the history of the neighborhood's renovation, and future plans for the entire 128-acre project. House 25, Xintiandi North Block, 118 Taicang Lu, 200021. 021/3307–0337. www.xintiandi.com. Y20. Daily 10:30–10:30.
May 22, 2007
Xintiandi really is a new heaven on earth in looks. It's stylish, chic and relaxing, with a mix of Chinese and European sensibilities. Bring your credit card if you plan to spend, because it's very classy. Tip: most of the souvenir bits and pieces for sale are at least twice the normal price. Buy them elsewhere.