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French Navy Barracks

INTRODUCTION

Located near Danzishi’s old street in Nan’An district, otherwise known as the Chongqing Bund, the old French Naval Barracks retains its old style and architectural beauty. Now serving as restaurants and a bar area, the Navy Barracks boasts a mix of Chinese and western style construction using bricks, old tiles, and inscriptions. The site has accumulated quite a bit of history and culture itself over the years.

The entranceway to the French Navy Barracks located in Nan’An District /Mikkel Larsen

BACKGROUND AND HISTORY

In 1896 after the Sino-Japanese war, the French Government established a consulate in Chongqing to oversee all matters concerning Sichuan, Guizhou, Qinghai, Tibet, and Xinjiang. Given China’s size, it wasn’t usual for a single office to act as the main headquarters for a large part of the country.

French naval officer Horst led a survey team on a French warship to build a French Navy Barracks in 1902 on the South Bank of Chongqing. The Barracks building is unique in Chongqing for being an authentic foreign building. It was designed and constructed entirely with foreign hands. It also acts as a historical landmark in that it is historical evidence of Chongqing opening up as a port city in the early 20th century.

The compound is a large white building with an inner courtyard and a cloister style imitating a medieval castle. The building area is about 1600 square meters. This was the barracks where the soldiers and officers of the warships lived, and the compound contains food storage warehouses and a material supply station. At the same time, it was also a symbol of a French security presence in the region, responsible for protecting the Yangtze River Channel.

The courtyard and the building retain their old architectural style from when it was built in 1902 /Mikkel Larsen.

MAIN ATTRACTIONS

Embroidery

Inside the main entrance of the French Navy Barracks, you will find an embroidery shop with exquisite handmade embroidery. Embroidery is a cultural tradition that dates back centuries in China and Chongqing, and it makes for excellent gifts for little decorations for your home.

Restaurant

The main courtyard still retains some relics and artifacts from the past but is now mainly used as a restaurant and meeting place. The restaurant has kept the original style of the building intact, and even the furniture they have added compliments the building’s architectural style. The courtyard provides a bit of refuge from the sun during the hot summer months in Chongqing as well, and, of course, the food is delicious.

Bar

On the left side, coming in from the main entrance, you will find a bar that sits a the bottom level of the building. This bar remains cool even during the summer as it is almost sunken into the ground.

The inner courtyard of the French Navy Barracks /Mikkel Larsen

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