Located about 60km from Shanghai is an ancient city. That in itself is not remarkable. China is full of ancient cities. China is an ancient land that has been populated by diverse cultures for thousands of years. But few cities in that country, or anywhere else, could legitimately claim to be the Venice of China. Zhouzhuang can.
Built on eight islands connected by dozens of bridges, the waterways of this city thread through it like that old Italian wonder. And like that Italian city, tourists can delight in taking a leisurely boat ride, or strolling around to view the many delightful sights. Board the gondola and cruise slowly around, then step off and choose to explore anything which strikes the eye.
One of the more well known bridges one might select to investigate is from the Ming dynasty. Key Bridge, so called because of its shape, it provides only one of many sights worth seeing in this wonderful Asian town. Fuan Bridge is another popular choice. On a structure erected in 1355 AD it houses tea rooms and shops that provide ample enjoyment.
Beyond the bridges, there are more worthwhile sights. The Imperial Gardens here share many things in common with their worthy cousins elsewhere. But few can boast of a comparable setting. The delicate breezes that waft across the cooling waters make strolling along the many plants an unusually great pleasure.
The more than 60 carved-brick archways add to the enjoyment of walking around to view residences first built during the Ming Dynasty. Along the way, you might take some time to see the Quan Fu Temple, a classic example of historic Chinese religious architecture. Or, you might want to investigate the Silk Mill that still churns out goods of a sort that would be recognizable to Marco Polo.
Even the town’s water tower has been carefully crafted to look like an elegant pagoda. Clearly, Zhouzhuang is concerned to keep its traditional look intact.
The city itself is over 900 years old. Though, dating cities in China is itself something of art since it involves deciding when an ancient settlement became a city. Established in the early years of the 6th century as a separate county, it took on its present look largely in the 9th when 13 hectares of private land were developed.
In the more recent of those long centuries, it managed to retain its historic identity and avoid the degradation often brought by the Cultural Revolution on other places. Zhouzhuang remains the same as it always was.
Come see why.