After visiting Foshan's Ancestral Temple we still had a walk around another highlight of the city: Lingnan Tiandi (岭南天地). This is a part of town that has been renovated, with numerous old houses and historical buildings preserved and turned into shops, cafés, restaurants, galleries... Essentially, an open air museum-mall.
Some of the buildings and small squares were truly interesting, with a fascinating combination of styles, both western and local. We loved the square old eavestroughs, and found the decorations above windows and doors intriguing and similar in idea to the porcelain decorations of native Lingnan architecture. There were even balconies with Buddhist swastika designs!
There were long narrow alleys, and more of the rounded roofs I adore so much. I find them so elegant, and so different from anything I had seen in the north.
And, once more, colourful porcelain applications depicting scenes and patterns. Plus, the trees around the tower were in bloom, too. A really nice area.
One wonders what this place looked like before renovation, because it really is an unusual case that big sections of a town could be preserved or restored to create a uniform feel, as we experienced in 2007 when visiting some water towns near Shanghai, one renovated (Xizha, with all original inhabitants displaced) and one without renovating (Dongzha, and still functioning as a regular town). It would feel like, so far, it's either displacing everybody or letting a place fall into ruin. Maybe a concept like Mexico's "magical towns" (see our visit to Izamal, in Yucatán, for example) would be a nice compromise? Who knows, maybe there are similar efforts underway already. In any case, a really interesting and pretty place to spend an afternoon, for sure.