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Zhengzhou City Cycling Tour 老鄭州

Zhengzhou City Cycling Tour 老鄭州

A cycling tour of old sites in Zhengzhou.

Time Required: 4 to 6 hours
Level of Difficulty: Easy
Cycling Environment: Urban

If you're like most people who move to Zhengzhou from some other corner of the world, you probably come here and quickly conclude that there is very little from ancient times left standing in the city today. And you'd be right; compared to cities like Xi'an or Beijing, Zhengzhou has less to offer in the way of true tourist destinations or ancient landmarks. As I discovered recently though, there are still plenty of places around Zhengzhou to find glimpses of times past - if you know where to look, that is.



I recently had the privilege of meeting Zhang Xijun, an editor at a local magazine, and amateur historian. When I told him that I was interested in learning more about local history, he offered to take me on a bike tour of historical locations in the city, some well-known, others not so much. 



This tour will take you past 10 stops that each offer a small window into onto the history of the city. Most of the stops along this cycling route are in the Guancheng district of Zhengzhou, and you will find yourself circling around many of the same roads as you make your way along the tour. Expect to spend the better part of a day on this ride, especially if you plan on spending more time at each location.


While your destinations may be touchstones of days gone by, you will also ride through several distinct and lively neighborhoods in this old part of town, making the tour a great way to see more parts of the current city, while learning more about its past.



You can follow the same route that we took. See below for directions (Map coming soon!)


Starting Point: The statue of Mao Zedong near the roundabout that intersects Jinshui Lu, Huayuan Lu, Zijingshan Lu, and Renmin Lu.


Zhengzhou Chairman Mao Statue


To start your cycling trip, wave goodbye to Mao and begin riding west along Renmin Rd. (人民路,in the direction of the train station). Ride for a few minutes until you come to Shangcheng Rd. (商城路) On the left side of this intersection you will see a small, triangular park with a large white pillar, marking your first destination.



1st stop: Shang Dynasty park on Renmin Rd. and Shangcheng Rd.

This park is located on the site where, in 1952, important Shang Dynasty relics were unearthed, providing evidence that Zhengzhou was the first capital of the Shang Dynasty, roughly 3,600 years ago. In later years the Shang capital would be moved farther north to where Anyang is today. 


Zhengzhou Shang Dynasty Park


The large bronze vessel in the center of the park is a large scale replica of the actual object found on this site. It would originally have been used to cook meat. The pictures engraved on the stone at the base of the bronze vessel depict images and writing similar to those found on Shang Dynasty relics discovered around Henan Province.


Shang Dynasty Park Ding




From the park, continue south along Shangcheng Lu (商城路) until you come to Zijingshan Lu (紫荆山路). Turn right on Zijingshan Lu, and head south one block to Chengnan Lu (城南路). You will see a large mound of dirt on your left; this is the Shang Dynasty Wall.



2nd stop: Shang Dynasty Wall at Zijingshan Rd. (商代遗址)

Packed earth wall originally from the Shang Dynasty, and then added to during successive dynasties. It is now a cultural relic protected by the Chinese Government.  The wall represents what would have been the boundary of the original Shang Dynasty capital, with the outside of the wall facing south and the inside facing north. You can climb up onto the wall for an elevated view of the streets around it. The wall at Zijingshan Rd. is also next to a small park, where you can often hear people playing Chinese folk songs.


Shang Dynasty Wall



Small Park


After leaving the wall, ride one block north on Zijingshan Rd. (one short block), to the first street on your right, a small street called Shuyuan Jie (书院街). You will see a small gray building immediately after turning onto this street. This is your 3rd stop.



3rd stop: Ming dynasty homes; oldest original structures in Zhengzhou

This small, unassuming gray dwelling is actually a tiny courtyard home that is the oldest original structure in Zhengzhou. Several of the homes within this narrow courtyard have been rebuilt over the years. The oldest homes are built with gray bricks and date from the Ming Dynasty, while the newer buildings can be distinguished by red bricks.


Zhengzhou Ming Dynasty Houses



Comes with a built-in bird house.

Bird House


When we dropped by we met Mrs. Guo (center), who is the seventh generation of her family that has lived here. 





Next, continue riding north on Zijingshan Rd. You will soon come to a large street called Dongda Jie (东大街), where you will turn right. The archway below marks the corner of Zijingshan Rd. and Dongda Jie.


Ride east along Dongda Jie until you see a white stone archway on your left. This is the Confucian Temple, your 4th stop.


4th stop: Zhengzhou Confucian Temple

This temple originally dates from the Tang Dynasty, and was built to honor Confucius and other Confucian scholars. The temple grounds follow the standard plan for Confucian temples that can be found in many other parts of China. Although the original temple was built more than one thousand years ago, it has been rebuilt and renovated many times since then, most recently in 2006.


Zhengzhou Confucian Temple


Zhengzhou Confucian Temple



The doors at the main are decorated with seven golden knobs each. This is similar in design to the doors of the Forbidden Palace in Beijing, with the important difference being that the Forbidden Palace doors have nine knobs instead of seven. Traditionally the number nine was a lucky number, and therefore only used for the emperor, which is why although other temples in China have a similar design, the Forbidden Palace is the only place that you will find nine knobs used, in recognition of the importance of the Emperor.

Confucian Temple Door


The rooms that run alongside the courtyard of this temple are used for a variety of purposes, one of which is to hold lessons for children. Even today some parents choose to send their children to learn from the Confucian classics, as a way of teaching them aspects of traditional Chinese culture, as well as instilling Confucian ideals and morals. 

Confucian Temple Courtyard



After leaving the Confucian Temple, head west on Dongda Jie, and you will very quickly come to a small street on the right called Zhigong Lu (职工路). See the photo below.

Zhengzhou Zhigong Lu

Turn here, and continue until you connect with Shangcheng Lu. You will then see the entrance to the City God Temple directly in front of you.




5th Stop: City God Temple on Shangcheng Rd. (城隍庙)

Temple built to honor the god that protects the city. Traditionally, every city would have had a similar temple.


Zhengzhou City God Temple


Zhengzhou City God Temple



The statue of Jixin, who was revered for having protected an emperor during the Tang Dynasty.


Zhengzhou City God Temple Tree



The temple also has an exhibit showcasing Henan Opera masks, costumes, instruments, and other information on this traditional performance style that is well worth checking out.


Henan Opera Masks


Next, go west on Shangcheng Lu and head through the intersection of Shangcheng Lu and Zijingshan Lu. Immediately after Zijingshan Lu you will come to a small, unmarked street with a steakhouse on the corner. Turn right here, and then take a left at the next street, which should be Qingzhensi Jie(清真寺街). You will soon see the minaret of the Zhengzhou Beida Mosque.


Turn right here............... and then take a left down this street.

Turn here to get to the Zhengzhou Mosque  Follow this narrow street



6th stop: Zhengzhou Beida Mosque(郑州北大清真寺)

Mosque for members of the Hui Minority group and other Muslims. Although it is a Muslim Mosque, the original structure is built in the style of a Buddhist temple, and dates from the Tang dynasty. The Tang dynasty was a period where Chinese culture flourished, and there was frequent contact with other groups far beyond China's borders. The story goes that during this period, one general who fought for the Tang emperor was from an Arabian country to the west, and he brought with him many other muslims who eventually grew accustomed to life in China and ended up settling here. The name "Hui Min" (回民 huí mín, the name of the Muslim minority group) therefore literally means "people who cannot return", meaning that they stayed here in China instead of returning to their own country.


The smaller building is the original mosque, while the larger one is a more recent addition. Being the largest mosque in Zhengzhou, this is where Hui people come for weddings, funerals, and other special ceremonies. The mosque is usually open and visitors can walk inside the main gate to take a look, but please be respectful and ask permission to take photographs. Non-Muslims are not allowed in the prayer hall, so please remain in the courtyard itself.



Zhengzhou Mosque


Zhengzhou Mosque


Zhengzhou Mosque Gate


Zhengzhou Mosque




























Zhengzhou Mosque

Hui Men




After leaving the mosque, get back on the road that you were just on, and follow it as it curves back toward Shangcheng Lu. You will pass a smaller white building with a green roof: this is the Women's Mosque, a newer and less eye-catching building, but one that is worth poking your head in on a quiet day if there are not many people around. Normally only women are allowed in this mosque; the larger mosque was traditionally only for men as well, so please be respectful of these customs and ask for permission first when entering either of the mosques.


Qingzhensi Road

Zhengzhou Women's Mosque 郑州清真女寺


Once you are back on Shangcheng Lu, ride west and then take the first left, which will be Guancheng Jie (管城街). Ride south on this road until you reach Xida Jie (西大街). You will ride east along Xida Jie for a few blocks before getting to Nanshuncheng Jie, where you will need to turn left and cross the street. You should see a KTV place with a black sign on the Southwest corner, so ride past this.




Note: If you're looking for a good place to eat along the way, see below for the recommended restaurant, otherwise skip this and follow the directions below to continue to the next stop.



Recommended Restaurant: 顺城羊肉鲜汤 (Shùnchéng Yángròu Xiāntāng) 

Here you can get mutton soup, a great meal to warm you up on a cool winter’s day. Look for the red sign on the left side of the road.


Shuncheng Yangrou Soup Restaurant


Yangrou Tang


To continue following the cycling route, ride south on Nanshucheng Jie and you will soon come to a fork in the road where you need to go left. You will see the large, brown, mound of earth that is the Shang Dynasty Wall (here being reconstructed), and that is your cue to turn.



Take the next right at Nanguan Jie (南关街), and ride until you come to a small bridge over a river. Find the stairs that go down to the riverside path, and take a minute to look at the underside of this bridge. This is the Shongerhe Bridge (Bear Ear River Bridge), the 7th stop.


7th Stop: Bear Ear River Bridge (Shongerhe Qiao)


The Shongerhe Bridge was built in the Qing Dynasty, and with its blackened stones and drooping archways, it looks about as tired as you'd expect for something that has been standing for more than 200 years. If you have time and need a break from the road traffic, take a stroll along the river here. 



Zhengzhou Shong Er He Bridge


When you're ready to get back on the bike, keep riding along Nanguan Jie and take an immediate right at the next street (东三马路 Dongsanma Lu). Along this street you will see many people with carts and motorbikes, trucks and vans, all carrying large wrapped-up bundles of clothes to and from the shops on this street. This is an area for wholesale clothing retailers, and it can get quite congested at times with so many people coming and going. 


Zhengzhou Wholesale Clothing Market


After a few minutes you will see a gray, two-story building on the right.


8th Stop: Former Headquarters of the Japanese Army

This gray, no-nonsense building is the former headquarters of the Japanese army, built specifically for that purpose when the Japanese army occupied Henan during the war. The building is not currently open, but is reportedly being renovated, possibly for use as a museum in the future.


Former Zhengzhou Headquarters of the Japanese Army


Next, keep riding until you reach a large intersection. Turn right here, but be careful; this can be a very busy street. You will ride north on this road, and follow it as it curves slightly to the left. After a few minutes you will see white building with red on its corner, and there will likely be many buses turning onto this street. Turn left here, but again be careful when doing so, since you will be crossing a busy intersection.


Turn left when you see this building


You should follow this road as it curves to the right, and you will pass the train station on your left as you do so. 


Zhengzhou Train Station


You will ride north on Erma Lu (二马路)until you see an elevated freeway. Go under this freeway and take a left beneath it. You will soon see a large office building with a red sign in front; this is the Zhengzhou Migrant Workers Labor Resources Market (郑州农村人力资源市场), and to the left of it stands a small, brown building, the 9th stop. 



9th stop:  Hospital from the early 1900s

Built around the turn of the 19th century, this building looks abandoned from the outside, but is in fact still used as a hotel, with rooms rented for dirt-cheap prices. Next to the migrant workers employment bureau.


Zhengzhou Qing Dynasty Hospital


Ride back underneath the elevated freeway in the same direction that you came from, and then turn left onto a street called Minggong Lu (铭功路). Just after turning on to this street you will come to a small alley on the left, which leads to the Zhengzhou Catholic Church.


10th stop: Catholic Church

Built by Italian missionaries in the early 1900’s, the original church was destroyed by Japanese bombs in the 1930’s. It was later rebuilt, and now has a very new and bright look to it. 


Zhengzhou Catholic Church


Zhengzhou Catholic Church


Zhengzhou Catholic Church


Make your way back to Minggong Lu, and cross to the right side of the street. Ride north for a few minutes and you will soon see Renmin Park on the right. Make sure not to ride up onto the freeway!


After crossing the small river you will take a right at the silver bird statue. You can choose to ride along Jinshui road here for a slightly faster route, or take the ramp up to the river bank for a quieter and more scenic ride.




Be careful as you ride through the parking lot



If you choose to ride along the river you will need to cross Erqi Lu (二七路) and then remember to take a left when you come to the next street, Duling Jie (杜岭街).


Go left when you come to this street



Take a right at Jinshui Lu and continue until you reach the same park that you started at, where you will now see Mao saluting you on successfully completing the tour!


Chairman Mao Salutes You!



Note: Many of the stops on this route are in places where people are working and going about their normal lives. While many people may welcome visitors, please remember to be respectful when visiting these locations. Also, this tour takes you through some very busy streets and crowded areas, and as such, presents all of the dangers that come with urban traffic. Please use caution and common sense when following this route.

If you have questions or comments on this tour please contact me at



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