Harbin is a sub-provincial city and the capital of the Heilongjiang Province in Northeast China. It lies on the southern bank of the Songhua River. Harbin is ranked as the tenth largest city in China, serving as a key political, economic, scientific, cultural and communications center of Northeastern China.
Harbin is originally a Manchu word meaning "a place for drying fishing nets". Harbin bears the nicknames "the Pearl on the Swan's Neck" because the shape of Heilongjiang resembles a swan, and "Oriental Moscow" or "Oriental Paris" for the architectures in this city.
Every year, the ice period lasts about 190 days in Harbin, hence it is also known as "Ice City". This city is most famous for its beautiful display of ice sculptures in the winter. The annually-held Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which officially kicks off every January 5 and lasts for over one month, is the greatest winter draw for tourists. It is already one of world's four biggest ice and snow festivals, along with the famous ones in Sapporo, Norway and Quebec.
During the festival, various programs are presented to the visitors, including huge ice sculptures exhibition in Stalin Park and Harbin Ice-Snow World, snow sculptures exhibition on Sun Island, the Ice Lantern Amusement Gathering in Zhaolin Park, and other activities such as winter swimming, ice hockey, soccer match on snow land, alpine skiing invitational tournament, ice sculpture competition, speed skating, photograph exhibition, film festival and wedding ceremony on ice. Here, you'll see world record-sized snow sculptures longer than two football fields, and some ice buildings, palaces, monuments, or statues about 50 meters tall (160 feet high) that you can walk and slide around in and on. These displays are technologically sophisticated.
Central Street in downtown of Harbin is the ultimate symbol of the city. Harbin's hundred-year's history can be traced in this story- rich street. Originally constructed in 1898 for the transportation of railway supplies and called "Chinese Street," Central Street was later floored with square stones based on the design of a Russian engineer in 1924. Since then, it has become home to numerous foreign shops, hotels, and bars. Russian leather, British woolen cloth, French perfume, German medicine and many more exotic commodities can be found here.
St. Sophia Church
Being put into construction in September 1923 and completed on November 25th, 1932, the church reflects Byzantine architectural features with 721 square meters in area and 53.35 meters in height. It is the largest Orthodox Eastern church in Harbin. Russian style domes, Rome style arch high windows and many combinations of different architectural arts all embody the special fascination of the church. Now the church has become a bright spot in the architectural art sceneries of Harbin. In 1996, it was designated as Harbin Architectural Art Gallery. Everyday, it attracts lots of tourists and local people to come here for visiting, relaxing and taking pictures. It is getting more and more attention both from home and abroad.
Food of Harbin
Due to its special geographical position and long history, local cuisine mixes with Shandong Cuisine and exotic Russian cuisine. Like the warm- hearted and straight forward locals, the local dishes tend to feature hot and dense, strong flavors.
Harbin Dalieba Bread
Harbin big bread is unique flavor food in Harbin. The large bread is round with the weigh of about 2.5 kilograms. It tastes special and fragrant, and has traditional European flavor. The crust is browned and fragile and the interior flesh is soft. It is enjoyed by all ages of people.
Harbin Red Sausage
In the early 20th century, Russian traders brought this smoked pork sausage across the border into Harbin. Since then, it has become a specialty of the city. Flavored with garlic and black pepper, the red sausage is the perfect companion to Dalieba bread and tastes even better with a pint of Harbin beer.
Harbin is an extraordinary place for beer lovers. Harbin brewery is a jewel in China’s beer crown. The citizens’ love of beer can be seen everywhere from the omnipresent Harbin Brewery products to the street decorations which happen to be old beer barrels. There are a number of brewpubs that will suit every taste and budget.
Harbin’s black beer is a bit more refreshing in nature. Black beer goes beautifully well with typical Harbin dishes that are loaded up with cumin and chilies. Seaweed beer is still something new and not mainstream. It’s nice, with a flavor that makes you think of the ocean. Like a fine whiskey, this is a beer that needs to be savored. It goes very nicely with beer snacks such as fresh cucumbers covered in a sesame oil and garlic sauce. Wheat beer (also known as white beer) is one variety that is absolutely terrific in Harbin. It tastes slightly sour. The Harbin wheat beer with a thick slice of Harbin’s famous Dalieba bread and renowned red sausages is a treat that no visitor to the city should go without.