The Qin Huai River, long the symbol of Nanjing city, is a branch of the great Yangtze River. It is 110 kilometers in length and covers a drainage area of 2,631 square kilometers. Originally called the Huai River, the Qin Huai is divided into inner and outer rivers.
The Qin Huai River is the major waterway in the Nanjing area, and is regarded as the mother river of Nanjing and the 'life blood' of the city. It is said that the river was channeled to the city of Nanjing during the reign of its namesake, Emperor Qin Shi Huang.
The river is the cradle of ancient civilization in Jiangsu. Archaeological studies have shown human activities along the river as far back as the last Stone Age. In the age of Dongwu, the area was an important commercial center and settlement. In the period of Liuchao, this area became the preferred locale for the nobility, merchants, and literati. Up to the period of Songchao, this drainage area gradually came to be the cultural center of Jiang Nan. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, the city had come to fruition being home to numerous grand buildings, rich commodities, and countless commercial ships. In modern times, the Qin Huai River has become one of China’s most famous tourist attractions.
There are many sites of interest along the banks of the Qin Huai River, including the Confucius Temple, the Zhanyuan Garden and the Zhonghua Gate, along with countless sights along the Taoye Ferry ride to Zhenhuai Bridge. One of the most popular sites has to be the Zhanyuan Garden. Constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the garden is the oldest of its kind in Nanjing City.