By Chen Zhiying
Harbin is the capital as well as the largest city of Heilongjiang Province. Located in the central area of Northeast China, it is regarded as a shining pearl linking with Eurasia Bridge. Known as the “ice City” with gorgeous winter scenery, Harbin has one of world's four biggest Ice and Snow Festivals with colorful and interesting activities and performances. The city is even reputed as the “Oriental Moscow” since its dense European and Russian architectural relics make people seem like walking in an East European city. More and more people are traveling to Harbin in winter to experience the charm of this “ice city”.
World of Ice and Snow
Covering more than 750,000 square meters and consuming ice and snow over 300,000 cubic meters, Harbin Ice and Snow World is one of the most important parts of Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. It has become the most popular winter attraction in the world. As you enter into Ice and Snow World, you will be amazed by such a dreamlike park made of ice and snow. Sculptures in the park are often record-breaking in size, some of which are even carved with very intricate designs. Apart from feasting your eyes on the amazing colorful ice and snow sculptures decorated by neon lights and wonderful performances, you can also take part in various interesting cultural activities and winter sports. The recreation area provides you with over 20 options such as skating, skiing, curling, ice biking, ice slide, snowman building, snowballs fights.
The origin of the park dates back to 1999. To celebrate the millennium, Harbin municipal government built a shiny, icy and snowy Disney Land. Since then, the fairy tales about ice and snow in Harbin began. The ice and snow were embedded into the hearts of Harbiners and became one of the signs in Harbin. Harbin holds the event themed on ice and snow each year, in which a charming and romantic pure world is presented. Millions of tourists have been attracted to the view. The state leaders and a number of ambassadors in China have been personally visited the park and spoke highly of it.
Tips: 1.The best time to visit Harbin is from December to February. 2.Keep yourself warm while touring in Harbin. If you are not used to extreme cold, the clothes sold in your hometown may not be warm enough in Harbin. You could buy them in Harbin, anyway.
Romantic and exotic atmosphere reflected in the architecture
St. Sophia Cathedral, located in the Sophia Square of Harbin, is the largest Orthodox church in the far east with more than 112-ear’s history. It is also the most finely protected Byzantine architecture in China. Designed by Russian architects, the main central building has a standard large dome, just like other featured buildings in Russia, being towering and spacious. The most striking part of the Cathedral is the large semi-circular dome, up to 48 meters high. This kind of dome contains a typical Russian architectural style, looking magnificent. Surrounding the dome are four different sizes of tent-shaped roofs. Its walls are built with red bricks, full of romantic and exotic atmosphere. Under the bright sun, the Cathedral and the square look like Moscow’s Red Square. The view of St. Sophia Cathedral during the day and at night are two different kinds of beauty. As night falls and lights begin to shine, it appears to be covered with a mysterious veil, presenting a fantastic picture. There is also a world-famous mural on the main dome of the church — “Last Supper”. Although the mural is a little mottled due to the passage of time, the characters in the mural are delicately and vividly portrayed with panic, anger, gestures, and eyes.
With exquisite and magnificent appearance, it is said to look as if it had been made by God’s hands. In fact, St. Sophia means ‘God’s wisdom’. Now, St. Sophia Cathedral is no longer served as a church but Harbin Architecture Art Gallery. Visitors can view thousands of beautiful pictures presenting the past, the present and the future of Harbin in the modern professional exhibit halls in the St. Sophia Square. The white doves living in the Sophia Square and the large musical fountains in front of the Cathedral are other highlights. Every day, the Cathedral attracts lots of tourists and local people to relax and take pictures, getting more and more attention both from home and abroad.
Joyous Polar World
Harbin Polarland, an aquatic-themed aquarium and animal observation center, is the first theme park of polar scenes in China. There was the most complete variety of polar animals and polar animal performance shows. Famous polar animal stars from all over the world gathered here to make themed performances. In the park, you can see and learn about animals that live at both poles, including polar bears, penguins, arctic wolves, sea lions, arctic foxes, and belugas. Themed areas above and below water allow you to see some of the regions’ famous wildlife against chilly-looking backdrops, and learn about their behaviors in their natural habitats.
Besides what has been mentioned, Harbin still boasts many fascinating tourists’ spots and awaits your exploration!
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