Located in southwest Jiangsu, Nanjing lies on the southern bank of the Yangzi River, surrounded on 3 sides by a range of hills known as the Purple and Gold Mountains. Spanning approximately 6,500 sq km in area, and home to more than 4.5 million citizens, it is the region's largest city and its capital. The city's wide streets lined with plane trees and a concentration of historic and cultural sites, make it one of the most popular destinations in the region.
Over the centuries, Nanjing's strategic position has been a lure to some of China's most powerful warriors and leaders. From the 3rd to the 14th centuries the city enjoyed stints as the regional capital, and in 1368, under the first Ming emperor Hongwu, Nanjing became capital of a united China. During his reign, emperor Hongwu constructed a 130 sq km city including a magnificent palace and massive city wall with 13 gates. One of the gates (Zhonghua Gate) and a section of the old city wall, remain in excellent condition.
Some 6 centuries later, in 1853, the city was again catapulted into the annals of Chinese history when the Taiping Rebels took over the city for over a decade, only to destroy it when they were overthrown in 1864. Then, in 1928, the city again became capital of a united China under the Kuomintang - only to suffer horrific losses when the city fell to the enemy during the Sino-Japanese war (1937-1945). In what was to become known as the Rape of Nanking, more than 100,000 citizens were massacred by the Japanese.
Just outside the city, set in a beautifully wooded landscape are the Tomb of Hongwu and Sun Yatsen Mausoleum. Both are popular attractions and make a relaxing and interesting diversion from the bustling pace of the city.