|Address: No 121 Quanfu Road Zhouzhuang Suzhou City Jiangsu Province
Entrance Fee: 100 RMB
|Zhouzhuang, as one of the most famous water town in China and well known as the Venice of the East, is a popular tourist destination for both locals and foreigners. It is well known for its profound cultural background, the well preserved ancient residential houses, the elegant river and canal views as well as the strong local colored traditions and customs. Moreover, it is surrounded and divided by lakes and rivers. As a result, many stone bridges were built across rivers and showing distinctive vies of the water town.
Zhouzhuang was an ancient village in China. The first written record of Zhouzhuang was found dated to year 1086 as a village which situated within Shanghai Suzhou and Hangzhou. The village was surrounded by waters and boat was the only mean of transportation that linked the village with the world outside. The river system here was playing the role as street. Thus, houses and shop lots were built along the riverside. The serenity of the surrounding as well as the peaceful ambience of Zhouzhuang is a typical representative of Jiangnian style village. In year 2003, Zhouzhuang was listed as the Historic Cultural Town of China by the authority.
Zhouzhuang is divided into four scenic areas which are the Guqiaoshuixiang (Ancient Bridges and Waterways Area), Mingqingjianzhu (Ming and Qing Dynasty Architecture Area), Shuizhenmingsheng (Top Tourist Spots of Water Town Area) and Zinzengjingdian (Newly Introduced Spots Area). Each of the scenic area has its very own unique characteristics that make it stand out among the rest. One day tour is definitely not enough if you wish to around Zhouzhuang and take time visiting each and every scenic spot here.
Shuangqiao (Twin Bridges) can be considered as the symbol of Zhouzhuang is one of the famous spots within Ancient Bridges and Waterways Area. The Twin Bridges is referred to Shide Bridge (a round arch east-west bridge) and Yongan Bridge (a square arch north-south bridge) that connecting at the middle. There is an angle that you may find the shape of Twin Bridge looks like an old-style Chinese key as well. In 1984, “Memory of Hometown”, a canvas of notable painter Chen Yifei which depicted the Twin Bridge was exhibited in a New York gallery of Armand Hammer. The canvas had gained the world’s attention for Zhouzhuang and at the same time, the painting was chosen to be the first-day cover of the United Nation’s postage stamp in year 1985 as well.
Fuanqiao (Fuan Bridge) which located at the eastern end of Zhongshi Street was buil in year 1355 during the reign of Yuan Dynasty. Five pieces of Wukang Stone which seldom found at Jiangnan are used as part of the construction of the bridge. Two of the stones were placed at the eastern part of the bridge while the rest at the western end. These stones are the best evidence that proved the long development history of the bridge.
It is hard to imagine that over 60% of the building architecture which still available in Zhouzhuang were built within Ming and Qing Dynasty. There are almost one hundred ancient residence courtyards here as well as over sixty stone carved walls here. The most significant representative of the ancient architecture in Zhouzhuang would be Shenting (Shen House). Built in 1742 and located at the southeastern side of Fuan Bridge, Shen House was the private property of the descendant of Shen Wanshan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River) in the early Ming Dynasty. The whole architectural complex has covered an area of over 2000 square meters and is designed in a very typical Qing style. There are over 100 rooms which divided within three sections with each and every room is inter-connected by arcades and aisles.
Zhangting (Zhang House) which serves as the representative architecture of Ming Dynasty at Zhouzhuang is on the other hand, another highlight of Mingqingjianzhu other than Shen House. Zhang House which possesses more than 70 rooms with an area of over 1800 square meters is located slightly to the south of Twin Bridges. It is a dapper and graceful residential house with a tranquil courtyard and pond.