One of the striking things about the coastal city of Qingdao is the surviving European feel of much of the older sections of town. Qingdao was a German colony from 1898 to 1914, and unlike most other cities that had once been under colonial rule, the old European zone was not razed.
Qingdao is a popular holiday destination, as tourists come from all over the country to enjoy the beaches and seafood. Here’s a time lapse video of what it looks like today:
The last time I was in Qingdao was in March of 2012 when I was doing research for my book The Bells Are Not Silent: Stories of Church Bells in China. Here’s what I write about the city in that book:
Germany had gained possession of the city as part of an agreement that was forced upon the Qing rulers in retaliation for the murder of two Germans in Shandong province.
Although the German presence in the city was rather short-lived, they nevertheless left their mark, building a railroad, harbor, and shipyards. They also brought beer making to North China, with the opening of the Germania Brewery in 1903. It is still operating today under the name of Tsingtao Beer, the company choosing to still use the traditional Romanization.
Upon taking possession of what was then little more than a fishing village, the Germans quickly put forth and implemented an extensive plan for urban development, which included dividing the city into different zones, each with its own function and emphasis: industry, fishing, education, etc. One zone was designated the European Zone and Chinese were forbidden to live there. It was in this zone that they constructed for themselves a German city, complete with wide, leaf-shaded streets and German-style buildings. (p. 79)
Two of the most imposing structures in the old city are St. Michael’s Catholic Church and the Protestant Church on Jiangsu Road, both of which were built by the Germans. Even though they were closed during the Cultural Revolution, both are now functioning churches and are listed as Provincial Historic Buildings by the provincial government.
There is an international church in the city as well; the Qingdao International Christian Fellowship, with Sunday service at 10:00 am.
And of course, if you want to read about the bells in two of the Protestant churches, their stories are in my book!
Image credit: Ken Marshall, via Flickr
Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio