Local residents in the city proper, as well as in the surrounding areas, have traditionally spoken the Jinan dialect of Mandarin that is not readily understood even by native speakers of standard Mandarin. The younger people of Jinan are more likely to speak standard Mandarin, whereas many older residents retain strong local dialect elements in their speech. Nevertheless, even the younger residents of Jinan tend to retain a strong local accent and mix local vocabulary into the standardized Mandarin vocabulary. Due to the influx of migrant workers during the past decade of China's economic boom, many of the current population that are of working age are not natives of Jinan but have learned to understand the Jinan dialect
Jinan has its own cuisine, the Jinan style of the Lu cuisine, one of the Eight Culinary Traditions of China. One of its features is the use of soup in its dishes. Modern cuisines in northern China-Beijing, Tianjin and the northeastern regions including Heilongjiang, Jilin and Liaonin- are all branches of Shandong cuisine.
Most shopping malls in Jinan are in the downtown area centered around Spring City Square and Spring City Road. Spring City Square was built by the municipal government beside the city moat in the early 21st century; at the center is the statue "Spring" which has become a symbol of Jinan. The square borders on the ancient city moat. It has a music fountain, a 46,000 square meter underground shopping center and a memorial hall with statues of famous people from Shandong.
Spring City Road was rebuilt at the same time that Spring City Square was created. The government's intention was to create a modern business district and yet preserve the traditional Chinese culture. Therefore, newly built shopping malls with traditional Chinese architectural styles and modern western skyscrapers can be found side-by-side along Spring City Road. Notable retail businesses are Quancheng Bookstore - the largest bookstore of the city - and Walmart (near the western end of Spring City Road). Major shopping malls along the road are the Guihe Shopping Center, the Sofitel Silver Plaza, the Shimao international shopping center, and the Wanda Shopping Mall. Parc 66 to the south of Spring City Road (opposite of Water Lily Street), opened in August 2011, is Jinan's largest shopping mall with seven levels of retail space and a total gross floor area of 171,000 square meters.
Springs and Lakes
Jinan is known as the "City of Springs" because of the large number of natural artesian springs. The majority of the springs, many of which have been historically listed under the "72 Famous Springs" are concentrated in the downtown district and flow north to converge in Daming Lake. The Baotu Spring Park is the most popular of the springs in the City of Jinan proper. Besides the Baotu Spring, the park contains several other springs that are listed among the "72 Famous Springs". Baotu means "jumping and leaping" in Chinese. The water in the spring pool can be seen foaming and gushing, looking like a pot of boiling water. The spring was visited by the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799) of the Qing dynasty who declared it "the best spring under the heaven". A tablet with the Emperor's handwriting "Baotu Spring" has since been erected beside the spring pool.
Not far away to the northeast of Baotu Spring Park is the Daming Lake, which, together with Baotu Spring and the Thousand-Buddha Mountain is often regarded as the "Three Greatest Attractions in Jinan". Other notable parks in the city include the Five Dragon Pool near the Baotu Spring Park, the Black Tiger Spring on the southern city moat, and the Baimai Springs of Zhangqiu City to the east of Jinan.
Historic Buddhist sites are particularly common in Licheng County to the south-east of the city center of Jinan. The Four Gates Pagoda, built in 661, is the oldest existing one-story stone tower in China. The pagoda houses four Buddhist statues dating from the 6th century, and the Cypress tree standing next to the pagoda is more than 1000 years old. Below the hill on which pagoda stands lie the remnants of the Shentong Temple, which was founded in the 4th century but was destroyed in the wars of later dynasties. The funerary stelae of monks from the temple which date from different historic periods display remarkable artistic features. The statues in the nearby Thousand-Buddha Cliff form one of the best collections of Tang dynasty Buddhist statues in the region.
The Lingyan Temple in the southern county of Changqing was one of the four most famous temples of the Tang dynasty. The temple was founded during the Jin dynasty and reached its heyday during the Tang and Song dynasties. During the Tang dynasty, the famous monk Xuanzang stayed in the temple and translated Buddhist manuscripts he had brought to China from India. Many emperors in Chinese history visited the temple before they went to Mount Tai (one of China's five sacred mountains, located south of Jinan) for ceremonies. The clay sculptures of Buddhas made in the Song dynasty is considered as "The Best of China" by scholar and journalist Liang Qichao. Buddhist architectures within the temple such as pagodas and tomb stelae are among the earliest and best protected in the region.
Museums and Libraries
The Shandong Provincial Museum located at the foothill of Thousand-Buddha Mountain is the largest museum in the province. It has a large collection of natural as well as historical treasures from the whole province. The museum was established in its present form in 1982 and currently has 8 exhibition halls: "Treasures of Shandong Province"; "Stone Sculptures"; "Warship of the Ming dynasty"; "Ancient Coins"; "Art Treasures"; "Fossil Collections"; "Dinosaurs"; and "Specimens". The museum has more than 210,000 relics and specimens, making up ⅓ of the collections in museums of whole province. The Shandong Provincial Museum has been ranked No. 7 in terms of collection size among the museums of China.
The Jinan Municipal Museum is located at the south-western foot of the Thousand-Buddha Mountain, in the north of the city center. Although much smaller than the provincial museum, the municipal museum still houses a collection of more than 20,000 items, most of which were recovered in the city area.
The Shandong Provincial Library] in the eastern High-tech Park (address: 2912 Second Ring East Road) is the principal library of the province and is ranked among the Top 10 Chinese libraries. As of 2004, the library had more than 5.18 million documents, many of which date back many centuries and are important sources for research on Chinese history. The library also has a large collection of western journals/books. Originally, the library was built close to Daming Lake in 1909 by the then governor of Shandong. In the late 1990s, a project was undertaken to move the library to the eastern part of the city, and it reopened in 2002 with 35 reading rooms and more than 2000 seats.