Prevalently known as the Venice of the Orient, Zhouzhuang is one of the most renowned and must see attractions in Suzhou. It is one of the many towns located in the southern region of the significant Yangtze River.
Surrounded by water, the picturesque town of Zhouzhuang is interlinked by rivers and canals. Positioned ideally in the Jiangsu province of China, it is one of the most well preserved ancient water towns of the country. With a prestigious history of more than 900 years, this spectacular water village has long been a hub for trading various important products such as silk, grain and porcelain.
The most outstanding feature of Zhouzhuang Water Village is its distinctive water lanes which are the main roads of the town. Here are some breathtaking sights that you will encounter when you travel to this marvelous place.
1. Twin Bridges ( Shuang Qiao)
The 14 stone bridges crossing the river forms an eye catching view for people. The Twin Bridges located at the northeast of the town, and have been considered as the symbol of Zhouzhuang. This bridge was built during the Wanli reign (1573 – 1619) of the Ming dynasty. The Twin Bridges look just like an old fashioned Chinese key.
The beauty of this bridges has been well known throughout the world. It is proven by the paintings of this wonderful place were chosen to be the united nation postage stamps in 1985. And in 1984, a contemporary Chinese painter, Chen Yifei, exhibited 38 of his paintings in New York gallery. One of his paintings called The Memory of My Hometown, which depicts the twin bridges, drew worldwide attention to Zhouzhuang.
2. Fu’an Bridge
Fu’an Bridge is a unique construction bridge that linked to the old houses in Zhouzhuang Town, and this kind of architecture is the only one left in water town of eastern China.
This bridge was built in 1935 during the Yuan dynasty.
The meaning of the name given to this bridge is that Zhouzhuang residents wished for prosperous and peaceful lives. There are a few elegant old towers linking Fu’an Bridge, and the old towers are filled with teahouses, restaurants, art galleries and shopping malls.
It is recommended for tourist to try to chill in one of the teahouse and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the renown bridges. It would be a very overwhelming experience.
3. Shen House
Built in 1742 and located at the southeast side of Fu’an Bridge, The Shen House was the private property of the descendant of Shen Wansan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan, in the early Qing Dynasty. The whole architectural complex is of the Qing’s style and occupies an area of more than 2,000 square meters (half an acre). And there are over 100 rooms, which are divided into three sections and each one is connected by arcades and aisles.
The first section is the water gate and the wharf, where Shen’s family moored boats and washed clothes. The middle part includes the gate tower, the tearoom and the main hall. The gate tower which is carved with lively and ingenious figures tell the historic stories. The Tea room and main hall are places for serving guests, and the furnishings in here are all very elegant.
The last section is the two-storied dwelling which consists of several buildings and it is quite different from the main hall, it’s more comfortable and refined in pattern and atmosphere. The painted sculpture of legendary Shen Wansan is in Datang Tower; cultural relics including ancient folk instruments are exhibited in Xiaotang Tower and Back Hall. As you can see, you can view an original Chinese culture in this place.
4. Zhang house
Another place filled with an original Chinese culture can also be seen in Zhang house. It was Built by Xu’s family in the Zhengtong era (1436 – 1449) of the Ming Dynasty and bought by Zhang’s family in the early Qing Dynasty. Located to the south of the Twin Bridges, Zhang House has more than 70 rooms and takes up about 1,800 square meters (less than half an acre).
With Ruojing River flowing through, Zhang House is a dapper and graceful residential house; has a tranquil courtyard and pond. Deep halls all represent the life of the quondam owner.
5. Milou Tower
This tower has also been called De’s tavern, because in 1920s, the founder of South society (Chinese Literature Association) has visited four times. On his visit, he wrote about a hundred great poems which was inspired by the beauty of the scenery. Since then, Milou tower has been very famous until now.
6. Chengxu Taoist temple
Chengxu Taoist Temple was built during 1086 – 1093 of the Song Dynasty and also known as Sanctity Hall. It’s located in Zhongshi street in Zhouzhuang town. The size of this temple had been expanding and now, it became the most famous Taoist temple in Wuzhong region.
Every year on 22nd and 23rd of the sixth of the Lunar Calendar, it will hold a grand religious ritual, Taoist masters and priests are in robes playing traditional music instruments and chanting Taoists scriptures to praise the heaven. In 1994, Chengxu Taoist Temple reopened to mass public. It maintained the original Song Dynasty style and the religious activities resumed.
Beside all the great places mentioned above, there are still lots of attractive places that you can find here in Zhouzhuang town. This water town would be an interesting experience for every one of you. Here are some names & phrases in Chinese.
周 庄 zhou zhuang n.
水 乡 water town n.
双 桥 Twin Bridges n.
邮 票 postage stamp n.
fù ān qiáo
富 安 桥 Fu’an bridge n.
沈 厅 Shen House n.
张 厅 Zhang House n.
迷 楼 Milou Tower n.
chéng xù dào yuàn
澄 虚 道 院 Chengxu Taoist temple n.