Shanghai’s most beautiful buildings

From ancient temples to futuristic skyscrapers, here’s a taste of the city’s most amazing architecture


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Home to some of China’s most extraordinarily buildings, Shanghai’s rich architectural heritage encompasses everything from ancient Buddhist temples and 19th-century colonial architecture to contemporary skyscrapers.


Longhua Temple

Shanghai’s largest Buddhist temple has existed in some form since 242 AD. Legend has it Sun Quan, Emperor of Wu, one of the three kingdoms of China, ordered the construction of 13 pagodas to house the remains of Buddha. Longhua Pagoda, one of the structures that makes up the Longhua Temple complex, was one of them. Destroyed by war, it was rebuilt during the reign of Emperor Taizong in 977, in the striking architectural style of the Song Dynasty, and has been renovated several times since.


Jing’an Temple

Famed for housing the great Hongwu Bell, which was cast in bronze for the founder of the Ming Dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhang, Jing’an Temple is thought to have been built in 247 AD. The current incarnation, built in 1216, stands on the busy West Nanjing Road in downtown Shanghai, in stark contrast to the contemporary, high-rise skyscrapers surrounding it.


St. Ignatius Cathedral

Completed in 1910, this Roman Catholic cathedral was once described as ‘the grandest church in the Far East’, and has been the seat of the Bishop of Rome, and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Shanghai since 1960. Designed by British architect William Doyle, its stained glass windows incorporate Chinese characters and iconography.


Custom House

Designed in the neoclassical style, the Custom House, completed in 1927, is one of the most iconic buildings on Shanghai’s Bund waterfront. It is best known for its bell, Big Ching, modelled on London’s Big Ben.



This Art Deco masterpiece, designed by British architect Balfours, and completed in 1933, used to house the largest slaughterhouse in East Asia. The daunting concrete edifice is now home to a number of creative enterprises, shops and restaurants.


Himalayas Center

Japanese architect Arata Isozaki’s ‘Archisculptural masterpiece for 21st-century China’, completed in 2003, is one of Shanghai’s most innovative buildings. It is also a cultural hub, home to Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, the Shanghai Himalayas Museum and the state-of-the-art DaGuan Theatre.


Shanghai Tower

This 632m, 128-floor skyscraper, designed by American architectural firm Gensler, was completed in 2015, and is the second tallest building in the world. It also has the world’s highest observation deck (562m) and the world’s fastest elevators.


Shanghai Natural History Museum

The shape of the 44,517sqm Shanghai Natural History Museum was inspired by the shell of the nautilus mollusc – one of the purest geometric forms found in nature. One of Shanghai’s most beautiful contemporary buildings, it opened its doors to the public in 2015.


Hongkou Soho

Japanese architect Kengo Kuma used angled strips of aluminium mesh to create the rippling façade of this 29-storey office building, designed to resemble a pleated dress.The building was completed in 2015.


Fosun Foundation

This arts and culture centre is part of the Bund Finance Centre, designed by British architectural firms Foster + Partners, and Heatherwick Studio, and completed in 2017. The façade, constructed of layers of bronze-coloured stainless-steel tubes that slowly rotate around the building, was inspired by traditional Chinese theatre curtains.


Explore Shanghai’s most beautiful buildings while staying in one of them at the Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel, Shanghai.