The inland port of Harbin, on the banks of the Song Hua River, dates back to 1898 when it was chosen as the hub of China Eastern Railway that linked China to Europe.
The city has a long shared history with Russia, its neighbour to the north, whose influences can be felt today throughout the city.
"About Harbin" from the Harbin Local Government Web site
Renowned as the Far East’s largest Eastern Orthodox Church, St. Sophia Church is a protected site listed as a Key Cultural Relic.
Few months after the church was named a Key Cultural Relic in 1996, it was repaired and transformed to the Harbin Art Gallery by the Harbin City government.
The Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is held from January 5 to the end of February of each year.
The festival is held in Zhaolin Park and Sun Island, where elaborate ice sculptures sparkle in the cold winter air. At night, the sculptures are illuminated from the inside with coloured lights.
Located in northwest of Harbin, the Siberian Tiger Park occupies a total area of 1,440,000 aqm, making it the a big natural park for wild Siberian Tigers.
The park features more than 500 pedigree Siberian Tigers, of which only 100 can be explored by visitors. The park is also home to White Tigers, Lynx, Leopards, Lions, Bengali Tigers and Black Pumas.
Known locally as Taiyangdao Gongyuan, the Sun Island Park is made up of one main island along with a few other small islands in the Songhua River.
Renowned as Harbin’s largest recreational centre, the island experiences a peak in tourism during the summer and the ice festival.
Shopping in Harbin reflects the city's rich, multi-cultural history. Jade jewellery, Russian bread and sculptures and other cultural artefacts representing both nations are readily available.
The rapidly expanding shopping industry in the Central Business Districts complements the shops and sidewalk cafes found along the stone-paved, pedestrian-friendly Central Street.