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Venice of the East - Zhouzhuang

 2014-03-31    Yan    Tours    Zhouzhuang    1565  

Being called the "Venice of the East", Zhouzhuang is one of the most famous water townships in China, noted for its profound cultural background, the well preserved ancient residential houses and the elegant watery views. It is a town in Jiangsu province, China. The ancient town, which has a history of more than 900 years, still retains the style and pattern of its ancient village. Its most famous attractions are Fu’an Bridge, Twin Bridge and Shen's Hall of Residence.

Zhouzhuang is surrounded and divided by lakes and rivers, 14 stone bridges cross the rivers, showing distinctive views of the water-town. Located at the eastern end of Zhongshi Jie, Fu’an Bridge is the only remaining structure that made a connection between bridge and house. Built in 1355 during the Yuan Dynasty, the unique trait of the Fuan is the consummate combination of the single-arch bridge and the bridge towers.

Another famous bridge - Twin Bridges comprise of Shide Bridge and Yongan Bridge, are the most famous and are considered the symbol of Zhouzhuang. Zhouzhuang is surrounded and divided by lakes and rivers. Many stone bridges cross the rivers, showing distinctive views of the water-town.

Built in the Wanli era (1573–1619) of the Ming Dynasty, the Twin Bridges are located in the northeast of the town. Shide Bridge is east-west and has a round arch, while Yongan Bridge is north-south and has a square arch. Crossing the two crisscross rivers (Yinzi Creek and Nabeishi River) and connecting at the middle, the Twin Bridges look like an old-style Chinese key. "Memory of Hometown", which depicted the Twin Bridges, was one of the items on display and has gained the world's attention for Zhouzhuang. The painting was chosen to be the first-day cover of the United Nations' postage stamp in 1985.

Shen House, which is built in 1742 and located at the southeast side of Fuan Bridge, was the private property of the descendant of Shen Wansan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River) in the early Ming 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). The overall structure looks very rigorous and the parts of the hall have different scenery.

Over 100 rooms are divided into three sections and each one is connected by arcades and aisles. The first 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 painted sculpture of legendary Shen Wansan is in Datang Tower; cultural relics including ancient folk instruments are exhibited in Xiaotang Tower and Back Hall.

In addition, there are Quanfu Temple (Buddhist) and Chengxu Temple (Taoist) and other religion sites. The whole town connected to the bridges and streets, all houses were built on the river. The boat gently rocking and green shadow whirling on the bank of river. When you visit it, you will feel you are in a picture.

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