Tracing the history of the 1911 Revolution in Wuhan

Editor’s Note: This year marks the 110th anniversary of the 1911 Revolution, or the Xinhai Revolution, which overthrew the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and put an end to the country’s over 2,000-year-old monarchy. The revolution is of great historical significance, for it led to the establishment of the Republic of China (1912-1949) and the following social changes in the country. Nowadays, some of the historical sites have been preserved in the country to remember this important chapter in China’s history.

The history of the Xinhai Revolution began with the Wuchang Uprising, an armed rebellion against the Qing Dynasty rulers that broke out on October 10, 1911, in today’s Wuchang District, Wuhan City, central China’s Hubei Province. After Wuchang was taken, the revolutionaries quickly seized strategic locations Hanyang and Hankou, altogether known as the “Three Towns of Wuhan.”

Today well-maintained historical sites of the uprising in the city are welcoming visitors to retrace the history and pay tribute to the martyrs.

Uprising Gate

The Uprising Gate in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

The Uprising Gate in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

Qiyi Gate, or Uprising Gate, is the only remaining gate of the ancient city of Wuchang. What makes it special is that the first shot of the uprising was fired at this very spot 110 years ago.

The gate, previously known as Zhonghe Gate, dates back to the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The two-floor gate tower features a typical Chinese hip-and-gable roof supported by 30 red pillars.

On the evening of October 10, 1911, the revolutionary army entered the city through this gateway and bombarded the viceroy’s office with cannons set up at the tower above.

It was given its present name in 1912 to commemorate the victory and was renewed in 2011 based on its original architectural drawings.

The night view of the Uprising Gate against the backdrop of the Yingwuzhou Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

The night view of the Uprising Gate against the backdrop of the Yingwuzhou Yangtze River Bridge in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

‘The Red Building’

Next to the city’s landmark Yellow Crane Tower stands the Former Address of Wuchang Uprising Military Government, or what they used to call “the Red Building.”

It once served as an office of the Hubei consultative bureau in the Qing Dynasty and gained its nickname because of its conspicuous red brick walls and tiles.

The Former Address of Wuchang Uprising Military Government in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

The Former Address of Wuchang Uprising Military Government in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

After the uprising army occupied the whole city, they declared the end of the last feudal dynasty and built the Hubei Military Government in the building, ushering in the political form of a republic. Li Yuanhong, a high-ranking commander in the army, was elected as the governor, who later served twice as the President of the Republic of China between 1916 and 1917, and between 1922 and 1923.

A memorial museum was constructed surrounding the Red Building in 1981 to protect the culture relics and has opened to the public since.

A statue of China’s revolutionary pioneer Sun Yat-sen is erected in front of the Former Address of Wuchang Uprising Military Government in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

A statue of China’s revolutionary pioneer Sun Yat-sen is erected in front of the Former Address of Wuchang Uprising Military Government in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

The 1911 Revolution Museum

Just around 500 meters south of the Red Building lies the 1911 Revolution Museum, a thematic museum built to mark the 100th anniversary of the revolution. The construction was completed in September 2011 and the museum has been open to the public for free since mid-October 2011.

Covering an area of 22,000 square meters, the museum features a unique exterior design with a giant “V” shape in red seen from above, indicating the victory of the Wuchang Uprising and the rejuvenation of the city.

An aerial view of the 1911 Revolution Museum in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

An aerial view of the 1911 Revolution Museum in Wuchang District, Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province. /CFP

It houses a vast collection of cultural artifacts and historical pictures, and displays the history of the Xinhai Revolution from different perspectives. Meanwhile, it also strives to promote related academic exchanges and scientific research.

The museum receives about one million visitors annually. Today it has become one of the city’s cultural symbols.

(Cover image by Li Jingjie)