To see the modern heart of Shanghai, visit this square, a vast green space surrounded by museums and a grand theater.
People's Square, or Renmin Square, is Shanghai’s massive central square. This popular public gathering place is home to the Shanghai Museum, the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall and the Grand Theater, among other attractions. Admire the towering modern buildings that surround the square and watch local residents chatting and flying ornate kites over the grassy lawn areas.
The square was established in 1862 and served as the site of the Shanghai racecourse. The only surviving aspect of the original racecourse is its former clubhouse, which is now the home of the Shanghai Art Museum. Head inside this museum and notice how it still resembles an old-fashioned gentlemen’s club with an open layout and lacquered wood floors.
On the west end of the square, you’ll see the curved roof of the Shanghai Grand Theater. Buy tickets to see one of the ballet productions, Broadway shows or orchestra concerts that are regularly performed at this important venue.
Be sure to visit the Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall on the northeast end of the square near the austere Shanghai Government Building. Fascinating detailed scale models of central Shanghai show how the city’s footprint has expanded dramatically over the last century. Don’t miss the virtual tour of the city.
Walk to the south side of the square to see the venerable Shanghai Museum. Designed to resemble a Chinese cooking pot, this unique building houses an impressive collection of ancient Chinese art, including bronze, jade, calligraphy, scrolls, painting, coins and ceramics.
Find a seat on a bench and watch locals strolling, feeding pigeons, roller skating and practicing tai chi. Look for the distinct tower of Tomorrow Square overlooking the scene, as well as the unusual rounded top of the Radisson Hotel Shanghai New World. Near the People’s Square subway station, descend underground to explore its massive subterranean shopping plaza. Weekends can be extremely busy here, so it’s best to come during the week when the area is quieter.
People's Square is located in central Shanghai. Get here by taking the subway or bus. Several major lines intersect at the square.