In recent times Shanghai has become a prominent city and a cultural center. Both the Chinese and Western cultures have merged and developed here since the mid-19th century AD.
Catholicism has a long history in Shanghai dating back as early as the Ming Dynasty (1595 AD). Among Catholic churches built here is the Dongjiadu Church , which was the first Catholic Church in China . The church built in 1940 in Xujiahui district was one of the largest Catholic churches in Shanghai . The Xujiahui district used to be the largest diocese of Catholicism in China .
After Protestantism was introduced, Protestant churches were also built in Shanghai , the largest being the International Church .
Shanghai also has Buddhist temples. The best are the Longhua Temple in the south, the Jade Buddha Temple in the north, and the Jing'an Temple in middle. They are active throughout the year and ceremonies are held at Spring Festival and other holidays.
Shanghai is a city mixing China and European architecture styles. Some hotels, office buildings, museums and houses built by Europeans are replicas of traditional European architecture.
Traditional Chinese landscape structures, such as the Mandarin Garden , the Qiuxia Garden , the Guyi Garden , the Qushui Garden , and the Zuibaichi Garden , exemplify Chinese architectural art. The Mandarin Garden is an example of a traditional Garden. It combines Ming and Qing architecture styles. The elaborate design includes pavilions, halls, rocks, fountains, and flowing water.
Dramas performed in Shanghai include Kunqu, Beijing, Yue, Hu, Huai, Yong, Xi and Shao operas, as well as farce and Pingtan, Shanghai is the cradle of plays and movies.
Traditional Chinese paintings flourished in Shanghai and became a special style. Examples can be seen in the Shanghai Museum in People's Park, which also displays comprehensive collections of jade, bronze vessels, ceramics, sculptures, money, and ancient paintings.
Shanghai is famous for silk embroidery of the Gu family style. It was created earlier than the other four famous embroidery styles (the Su, Ting, Yue, and Shu) which were influenced by the Gu embroidery.
Shanghai 's food features vegetable and seafood dishes with stew-in-brown-soy-bean and stir-fly-in-vegetable-oil as the main cooking method. The earliest Shanghai food used to be distinguished by its thick stock, heavy sauce, moderate taste and natural flavor. In recent years, exchange of skills among various cuisine restaurants, and setting up of a "technical centers" designed to improve the color, smell, flavor, and appearance of Shanghai food, have been made to better cater to the palate of locals and most of all, visitors.