Zhouzhuang water town
Zhouzhuang lies at the middle between Shanghai and Suzhou, is an ancient town of Kunshan city, Jiangsu province, where abounds with rivers and lakes. Approximately 2 hrs drive from Shanghai, this water town was thought by many to be the best water town in China. It has a history of more than 900 years old with many houses built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties; 100 houses with courtyards and 60 of them have arch gateways made by carved bricks.
The beauty of Zhouzhuang is specially to be found along the waterside lanes and around a number of the stone bridges. A different vista at every turn can be found here. One can enjoy the fairyland atmosphere of the evenings here when the myriad stars twinkle as though in communication with the glittering lights.
Several attractions can be visited at Zhouzhang as follows:
This attraction sets the standard for the town. These bridges are not exactly twins, because one, Shide, was first built in 1573 while the other, Yong’an, wasn’t completed until after 1619. However, both bridges cross just above the confluence of the rivers Yinzi and Nanbei and land on the same corner. Viewed from downstream, the combination of the round arch that makes up Shide Bridge and the square arched Yong’an makes the two bridges look like an ancient key. From there, they are also called “Key Bridge”. The bridge or bridges became the face of the town.
With 19 stone bridges throughout Zhouzhuang, Fu’an stands out on account of its Yuan Dynasty heritage. It has been restored and rebuilt several times, the last being in 1855 when granite stairs and ornate engravings were added in the style of the Qing Dynasty. The name means “Abundant Peace”, and is particularly picturesque because it’s built between two buildings that extend almost to the water surface. It’s especially charming to see from a boat below.
Not as impressive in size as the Shen Residence, the competing Zhang residence is much older, and one of the few remaining Ming Dynasty buildings. It’s just south of the famous Twin Bridges. Originally built by a relative of one of the Ming founders, it was later sold to the Zhang family, and hence its current name. Now it’s owned by the local government, and has been meticulously restored. It has a sprawling area of 70 rooms, and is unique on account of the Ming-style columns that make up its construction. It also has a free-flowing riverthrough the complex , which allows boats to go through.
Built in an aristocratic style during the early Qing Dynasty, this sprawling palace covers almost 2,000 m2 (21,500sqft) and is the biggest residence in the town. It is made up of over 100 rooms surrounding seven courtyards, and is divided into three sections: The water gate and warf; the Tea and Main Halls which were for receiving guests and conducting important ceremonies; and the living quarters. This residence is open to public.
Chengxu Daoist Temple
Located near the Quanfu Temple, this Daoist (Taoist) temple also dates back to the Yuanyou Period (1086-1093) of the Song Dynasty. It was expanded during the Ming and Quing Dynasties with donations from local wealthy traders and merchants until it became one of the largest in Jiangsu. The temple has three main buildings in a wonderful garden, and is surrounded by further pavilions. It is still an active place of worship and during the 22nd and 23rd days of the sixth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, there is a large celebration at the temple with traditional activities, customs and wardrobes.