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Zhouzhuang: the best water town preserved in China
CCNPIC  By Evelina

Zhouzhuang is a township of Kunshan City, a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province. The town is situated between Suzhou and Shanghai, 30km the southeast.

111809-00507 水乡古镇--周庄

ID:111809-00507 Zhouzhuang water town  Picture Kang Ronghui


In the regions south of the Yangtze River, many of the towns and villages are surrounded by water. Zhouzhuang is one of the most famous, and its a must-see place for all visitors to Suzhou. Crisscrossed by rivers and canals, the town is widely known as the Venice of the Orient, and is believed to be the jewel in Chinas water town crown.


The town has a history of 900 years, and in ancient times, it served as an important distribution center for commodities like silk, porcelain, crafts and grain, because of its unique geographical location. It is closely connected with the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

001-3965 江苏周庄寺庙

ID:001-3965 Zhouzhuang water village  Picture


The town is very small, with an area of just half a square kilometer. Surrounded by rivers and canals on all sides, the town offers a timeless beauty and charm to artists, photographers, and common visitors alike because of its winding water lanes, arched stone bridges, wooden boat rowing and well-preserved ancient buildings.


One of Zhouzhuangs most distinctive features is its water lanes. These water lanes are the towns main roads, and the boat is the most common mode of transport here. In front of every white-walled house you can see steps leading down to the waterway. These small docks also provide the locals with a very handy place to do their washing.

001-0172 集中国水乡之美的江苏周庄

ID:001-0172 Zhouzhuang water village  Picture


You can board man-powered tour boats from anywhere along the canals. Theyll take you through all the major scenic spots in the town. You'll also see a number of ancient bridges straddling the rivers, and many old houses flanked along the winding water lanes.


Some of the stone bridges in Zhouzhuang date back to the 14th century. The oldest one was built in 1355. The most famous are the Twin Bridges, and these are considered the symbol of Zhouzhuang.


Located over two crisscrossing streams in the northeast of the town, the twin bridges were built four centuries ago and include a 16-meter-long stone arch bridge and a 13-meter-long stone girder bridge.

107908-00028 周庄水乡

ID:107908-00028 Zhouzhuang water town  Picture Lei Yingyan


Another great attraction in Zhouzhuang is its well-preserved ancient architecture, such as temples, towers, pagodas and residential buildings, which are a testimony to the towns ancient history. More than 100 residential houses there were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. They usually have two stories and feature upturned eaves, white brick walls, black tiles, and crimson wooden windows and doors. These houses serve as a living museum for people today to get a glimpse of how the locals lived all those years ago.


Among the many old houses, the mansion of the Shen Family near the Fuan bridge is the most famous and a must-see for visitors. Built in the middle of the 18th century as the private residence of a wealthy merchant family, the huge mansion clearly illustrates how the rich of that time lived. It covers an area of 2,000 square meters and consists of more than 100 beautifully-decorated rooms, which are equipped with elegant classical furniture and connected with arcades and towered gateways.


Another house worth visiting is the dwelling of the Zhang family, located to the south of the Twin Bridges. It was built in the 15th century during the Ming Dynasty. The complex is a little smaller than the Shen house, and it has around 70 rooms. One unique feature of this residence is a stream that runs through the backyard so that boats can actually enter the grounds and dock there. (CCNPIC Evelina)

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