Best communist tourist attractions in Shanghai

Best communist tourist attractions in Shanghai

From the CCP's birthplace to the former residence of Mao Zedong, here are six quintessential attractions to track the city’s communist history

What's hotter than the weather in Shanghai this summer? Red tourism.

As part of the Communist Party's 90th anniversary celebrations this month, the Shanghai authorities not only reopened a few communist-themed tourist attractions, but also started a dedicated “red” bus line that connects all the communist attractions around the city.

For history buffs, here are six quintessential Shanghai tourist attractions to best track the city’s communist development.

The Site of the First National Congress of the CCP

The Site of the First National Congress of the CPCThe most iconic red tourism site for most Shanghai residents.

The Memorial Hall is sited within a preserved alley lane building, or shikumen, and forms a grand sight with its black wooden doors contrasted against rich red and gray brick walls and intricate carvings on the door frame.

In July 1921, Mao Zedong (毛泽东), Dong Biwu (董必武), Zhang Guodao (张国焘) and 13 other CCP members secretly gathered here, which was in the then French Concession, to hold the first ever congress, marking the birth of the Chinese Communist Party.

The group’s meeting room was in the basement, which has been restored with fittings replicating the exact conditions of the time.

What to look for: Although this is the first meeting place of the Communist Party, it now contains important cultural artifacts from each key period of communist rule over China.

Check out the handwritten lyrics of the communist anthem “Song of the Guerrillas” by He Luting (贺绿汀) and the business card used by Liu Shaoqi (刘少奇) during the May 30 student protest movement.

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The Site of the First National Congress of the CPC Memorial Hall (中共一大会址纪念馆), 374 Huangpi Nan Lu, near Xingye Road 黄陂南路374号, 近兴业路, free entry (no pre-booking), +86 21 5383 2171, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. (daily),

Former residence of Mao Zedong

Mao ZedongThe two wax figures in the former residence of Mao Zedong: Mao taking a break from his work (right) and Yang Kaihui taking care of their children (left).

Hidden behind a doorway of Jiaxiu Lane (甲秀里) on Maoming Bei Lu is a humble shikumen building. This was the residence of Mao Zedong and his wife, Yang Kaihui (杨开慧), along with their children Mao Anying (毛岸英) and Mao Anqing (毛岸青), from February 1924 till the year’s end.

Mao came to Shanghai more than 50 times in his life, and this was his home on his ninth visit -- which was also his longest and most family-oriented one. 

This is the only Mao residence in Shanghai open to the public.

The furniture arrangement, from the wardrobes right down to the wood carvings on the study table, is exactly the way they were in Mao’s time.

What to look for: The clothes, stationery and furniture in the former residence were all formerly used by Mao and his family.

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Former Residence of Mao Zedong (毛泽东故居), No. 5-9, 120 Maoming Bei Lu, near Weihai Lu 茂名北路120弄5-9号, 近威海路, free entry, +86 21 6272 3656, Tuesday-Sunday: 9 a.m. - 11 a.m., 1 p.m - 4 p.m.

Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence

Soong Ching Ling Memorial ResidenceThe white marble statue of Soong is in front of the Soong Ching Ling Museum next to the memorial house within the Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence.

Soong Ching Ling (宋庆龄), wife of Sun Yat-sen (孙中山) and the former honorary president of the People’s Republic of China, spent nearly 15 years in a three-story, off-white building surrounded by century-old camphor trees in Shanghai's former French Concession.

Soong Ching Ling became heavily involved in state activities after the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. According to, she was formally admitted as member of the Communist Party on May 15, 1981, just before her death.

From 1949 to 1963, Soong Ching Ling received many important guests and heads of state from China and abroad in this building, such as Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai (周恩来), Kim Il-Sung and Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan.

Soong’s favorite artworks are displayed throughout the lounge, including a portrait of Soong and a painting by Chinese horse painter Xu Beihong (徐悲鸿).

What to look for: Snap a photo with the camphor trees -- Soong’s favorites -- and the white marble statue of Soong Ching Ling in the yard.

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Soong Ching Ling Memorial Residence (上海宋庆龄故居), 1843 Huaihai Zhong Lu, near Yuqing Lu淮海中路1843号, 近余庆路, RMB 20 for adults, RMB 10 for students, +86 21 6437 6269, 9 a.m.- 4:30 p.m.,

The Longhua Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery

十多个青铜材质、花岗石材质的雕塑把革命先烈的英雄气概表现得淋漓尽致。 图片来自Flickr用户<a href="" target="_blank">Chijs</a>。

The cemetery embodies the collective memory of the post-1980s and post-1990s generation in Shanghai. Many of them have sworn loyalty oaths to the Communist Party or its Youth League here.

The cemetery is more like a park and is divided into areas such as the monument court, the martyrs’ area and the visitors’ area.

On the cemetery’s north-south axis lies a large tourist attraction -- 10 bronze and granite heroic sculptures depicting various revolutionary scenes.

Visitors can wander through the field of blossoms by the cemetery’s southwest corner after admiring the sculptures.

What to look for: The statue of the unknown martyrs. As the only sculpture in the park without a pedestal, it pays homage to the undying passion of all those who died in the name of socialism and has both artistic value and historical significance to Chinese.

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Longhua Revolutionary Martyrs Cemetery (龙华烈士陵园), 180 Longhua Xi Lu, near Longhua Lu 龙华西路180号, 近龙华路, free entry, +86 21 6468 5995, Tuesday-Sunday: 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.,

Chen Yi Square on the Bund

为了纪念建国后上海第一任市长陈毅,人们在外滩塑起了陈毅雕像。图片来自Flickr用户<a href="" target="_blank">Chijs</a>。

Chen Yi (陈毅), along with others such as Zhu De (朱德) and Peng Dehuai (彭德怀), was known as one the 10 important marshals of the People’s Republic of China.

He fought in the Red Army’s three-year guerrilla war in southern China, the Sino-Japanese War as well as the Chinese Civil War. 

After Shanghai was taken over by the Communist Party in May 1949, Chen took on a new post as the city’s first mayor.

In 1993, a 5.6-meter-high bronze statue was erected on the Bund to commemorate Chen Yi.

What to look for: On the south side of Chen Yi’s statue is a water fountain, which is square on the outside and oval-shaped from inside.

At night the fountain is coordinated with the lighting changes from red to yellow to blue and green.

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Chen Yi Square (陈毅广场), Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu, near Nanjing Dong Lu 中山东一路外滩, 近南京东路, free entry

Battle of Shanghai Museum

Battle of Shanghai MuseumOld bicycles, letters, certificates and paintings portraying various battle scenes can be found in the exhibition hall of the Battle of Shanghai Museum.

Situated within the Linjiang Park in Shanghai’s northeastern Baoshan district, the Battle of Shanghai Museum commemorates the soldiers who died in two major battles against the Japanese in Shanghai: one in 1932 and the second in 1937.

The park was also the main fighting ground of the two battles.

In order to fend off Japanese soldiers invading after the start of the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese army took part in a resistance battle in Baoshan that stretched over three months in 1937.

Sometimes referred to as "813" in Chinese literature (to mark August 13, the date it began), the battle is one of the first, and also the largest and bloodiest, battles fought in the period of Japanese resistance.

The museum’s main feature comprises a nine-story monument with a three-story memorial hall below.

What to look for: Climb atop the observatory deck on the monument’s 12th floor that overlooks the former battlegrounds, where you take in views of the whole of Baoshan all the way to the Yangtze River.

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Battle of Shanghai Museum (上海淞沪抗战纪念馆), 1 Youyi Lu, near Donglin Lu 友谊路1号, 近东林路, free entry (RMB 2 per person for the observatory deck), +86 21 6678 6322, Tuesday-Sunday: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m.,

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