China: Shanghai – The Bund
The Bund refers to the promenade and the buildings lining up the western bank of the Huangpu River and its perhaps the main attraction in Shanghai. The Bund is the best place to view the futuristic skyscrapers across the river on the Pudong side, but strolling along the wide riverfront is awesome as well. Most of the Bund’s historic buildings were built in the early 20th century when this was the biggest financial center of Asia with British, American, French, Japanese, German, and Russian banks and trading houses lining up the riverfront. When the Republic of China became independent in the 1940s, all the nascent large Chinese banks were here. Then came the communist period when most of the Bund became government offices. Today it’s back to being all banks, mostly Chinese (except of the Bank of Thailand and HSBC). All the building are in the Beaux Arts style of the turn of the 20th century. Interestingly, the Consulate of Russia has retained its prime location along the Bund through all these years of upheaval-full Chinese history.