From the incredible Yinxu and the Shanghai Museum to the astonishing Shaanxi History Museum the top sites from ancient China are fascinating places to discover. To begin your journey exploring the sites and museums covering ancient Chinese history you can view our editor’s selection of top picks below as well as checking out a host of other locations which you definitely won’t want to miss.
What are the best places for exploring the history of Ancient China?
Yinxu is the site of the ancient capital of the late Shang Dynasty and the first site of a Chinese capital in history. Founded in approximately 1300BC, Yinxu would remain the capital for 255 years. Today, the vast archaeological site houses remains of the palace, over eighty house foundations, and the Tomb of Fu Hao, the only intact tomb of a member of the Shang Dynasty. It offers a fascinating insight into the development of Chinese characters.
If you can bear to tear yourself away from the shops and restaurants of Shanghai a trip to the Shanghai Museum is a must. The museum covers ancient Chinese art from calligraphy and seals to ancient coins and has pieces dating back to prehistoric times and through to the Qing Dynasty. Located in People’s Square in the city centre, the museum chronicles China’s illustrious and extensive past. Housed within a very modern building – a tick to China’s increasingly daring new architectural styles – and spanning across several floors, the museum allows you to see how Chinese culture developed from prehistoric times through to the last Chinese empire.
The Shaanxi Museum in Xi’an explores the history of the Shaanxi region and contains over 350,000 pieces dating back as far as the Neolithic period. Divided chronologically, the museum has dedicated rooms for various periods from early Chinese history. Most of the collection is made up of gold and silver artefacts as well as ceramics and ancient coins. Translation within the Shaanxi History Museum is quite good and it does have quite a few English panels.
The Hong Kong Heritage Museum is dedicated to the history and culture of this territory. In an exhibition about the “new territories”, the museum uses artefacts, multimedia and documents to chronicle six thousand years of the region’s past. There’s also a collection of Chinese art dating back as far as the third century BC as well as an exhibit about the Cantonese Opera.