My last day in Harbin is another walk. The friends that I met last night also have the same destinations in mind so I go with them.
On the way to Saint Sophia Cathedral, we also spot a Jewish School, which opened here in 1910. The school has a primary Judaic architecture style. Much of the Jew Community here comes from Europe and settled here from the development of the Chinese Eastern Railways. After the Russian Revolution and World War II, more Jews refugees settle in China, most notably Shanghai and Harbin, to escape prosecution and holocaust.
From there, we walk a few blocks to Sophia Square to see the Cathedral of the Holy Wisdom of God or Saint Sophia Cathedral (聖索菲亞教堂, Shèng Suǒfēiyà Jiàotáng) or in Russian; Софийский собор (Sofiyskiy sobor) in Harbin. The Cathedral is previously an Russian Orthodox Church and was built in 1907 in timber but rebuilt again in its current incarnation with the Neo-Byzantine style in 1923 to 1932 at 53.3 meters in height and 721 square meters.
The Cathedral is shaped like a cross and the dome spires looks like the Saint Basil’s Cathedral in the Red Square, Russia. Saint Sophia Cathedral was closed during the China’s Culture Revolution. Fortunately, after the 90’s, the Cathedral is restored through donations in 1996 and through the Government, it becomes a museum and tourist attraction in 1997. The Saint Sophia Cathedral is currently the Municipal Architecture and Art Museum (Harbin Architectural Art Gallery), showcasing the architecture and history of Harbin. Entrance is 40 CYN.
The original Saint Sophia Cathedral when it was first built in 1907. Check out of the old photos for the Saint Sophia Cathedral here.
Little show at the front door with Chinese and Russian knick knacks. I try and buy a Russian patched hat. Kinda expensive for 350 CYN. I should probably buy it somewhere else though.
Outside the Cathedral, there are some architecture that I have no idea what it is but it’s interesting.
While Megan and friends go to a tour outskirt, I spend my last day in Harbin walking along Zhongyang Dajie again up to the Flood Control Monument (防洪纪念塔; Fánghóngjìniàntǎ).
Stalin Park along the Songhua river, named after Joseph Stalin, a Russian Dictator, was built in 1953
Located in Stalin Park, the monument was built in 1958 to commemorate the people who died because of the river overflowed the lake sides. The Flood Control Monument in Roman style cylinder was designed by Bagiz Zelev, a former Soviet Union designer and Li Guangyao, an Architect from the Harbin Institute of Technology.
Underground shops under the street. Bought a long wool shawl for 30 CYN here. Best buy for warm clothing. Some of the fashion here are imported from Taiwan or Korea aside from Chinese cloths. This reminds me of Changi in Greenhills, Manila.
Going up again, I decide to walk along the Songhua river (松花江). The frozen river is a nice stroll to see the winter gimmick has to offer, like horse riding, dog Sled, cart rides, ice skating, snow scoots, snow mobile, sleigh rides etc. I even bought a cotton candy as big as my head. Hmmm.
Further along the lake side, toward Harbin Jiuzhan Park (九站公园)
A nicer skating ‘rink’ with a nice sunset
Looks like a pavilion and a beautiful one in western style
A nice boat Ice Sculpture by the river side
There are some boat houses off the pier. I read some blogs that in summer, people can rent a boat and cross the river to the other side, Sun Island. They look American style, like the ones in New Orleans or something.
I go down a bit to see this old man and his son? playing with a spinner top
Time goes by so fast. I’m sooooo late to go back to the hostel to get my travel bag. I try to catch a taxi and get one after a while but the taxi keep getting other passengers like a bus, on off stopping.
Combining with the heavy traffic, it takes me 3-4 hours to the airport. I’m late by 10 minutes and the gate is already closing. I have to buy a return ticket for 1.820 CYN.
I have a lovely time in Harbin, but transportation in Harbin (i.e Taxi to airport is 110 CYN) need a complete overhaul, like not taking other passengers since it’s NOT A BUS. If that’s the way, bus is a better option for a cheaper price (20 CYN). Just need to go early.
Going back to Shanghai for the trip to… CHENGDU.