"Suzhou - A Classic Elegant China Water City" Suzhou by Adam-Yu
Suzhou Travel Guide: 346 reviews and 1,113 photos
Suzhou is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality - only 90km to the west of Shanghai. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part of the Yangtze River Delta region. Administratively, Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with an urban population of over 4 million expanding to over 10 million in the administrative area. It is 8488 square kilometers in area and 5.7 million in the population.
Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. 2500 years ago in the late Zhou Dynasty, local tribes who named themselves Gou Wu lived in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou. These tribes formed villages on the edges of hills above the wetlands around Lake Tai, and their territorial range was centered on Wuxi.
Originally founded in 514 BCE, Suzhou has over 2,500 years of rich history, and relics of the past are abundant to this day. The city's canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it has also been an important centre for China's silk industry. The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helü of the State of Wu established his capital at Helü City on the site of present-day Suzhou. The desinger of Suzhou City is Mr. Wu Zixu, the prime minister in Wu State. After Suzhou city was established om 514 BC, the site of Suzhou has never changed. In 496 BC, King Helü was buried in Huqiu (Tiger Hill). In 473 BC Wu was defeated by Yue, a kingdom to the east which was eventually annexed by the State of Chu in 306 BC. Remnants of this culture include remainders of a 2,500 year old city wall and the gate through it at Pan Gate.
By the time of the Qin Dynasty, the city was known as Wu County and was part of Kuaiji Commandery. Xiang Yu there staged his historical uprising of 209 BC, which contributed to the overthrow of Qin.
In Song Dynasty (960-1279A.D.), the watercourses of Suzhou were seen not only in writing records but also in detailed city map. The well-known Map of Pingjiang (the ancient name used in Song Dynasty for Suzhou) in the 2nd year of the reign of Shaoding (1229A.D.) under Southern Song Dynasty clearly shows the unique waterway layout and scenes of Suzhou. At that time, there were about 82 kilometers of waterways in the city with 314 bridges. In Complete Records of Water Conservancy of Suzhou which was compiled in late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it reads, “Canals are running in the city with three horizontally and four vertically, as well as hundreds of streams, all of them flowing from west to east, from south to north, going through Dynasties of Tang, Song and Yuan (1279-1368)”. There were 92 kilometers of canals in Ming Dynasty, which is the longest among all of the dynasties. It demonstrated that during the one thousand years from Tang to Ming Dynasty, the canals in Suzhou were not reduced but increased. This is a phenomenon worthy of attention and research. The canals started to collapse from the middle of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and some of the canals were covered up during Republic of China (1912-1949) and after liberation (1949). At present, there are 35 kilometers of canals in the ancient city with 182 bridges. Suzhou is still a city with most canals and bridges.
The city planning of water network fostered the layout in a double chessboard fashion with streams running parallel to alleyways, with water system as the sequence and waterways as the framework. This water-focused layout enables the dense waterways to extend in all directions. The scientific system of connecting the waterways outside and inside the city materializes the harmony between water and people, water and city, water and economy society. Through thousands of years' efforts, Suzhou has finally become a heavenly water city of world renown.
When the Grand Canal was completed, Suzhou found itself strategically located on a major trade route. In the course of the history of China, it has been a metropolis of industry and commerce on the south-eastern coast of China. During the Tang Dynasty, the great poet Bai Juyi constructed the Shantang Canal to connect the city with Huqiu for tourists. In 1035, the temple of Confucius was founded by famed poet and writer Fan Zhongyan. It became the venue for imperial civil examinations.
Despite the heavy taxation and the resettlement of some of Suzhou's prominent citizens' to the area of Hongwu's capital, Nanjing, Suzhou soon was prosperous again. When in 1488 the shipwrecked Korean official Choe Bu had a chance to see much of Eastern China - from Zhejiang to Liaoning - on his way home, he described Suzhou in his travel report as exceeding every other city in China he had seen. Many of the famous private gardens were constructed by the gentry of the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, the city was to see another disaster in 1860 when Taiping soldiers advanced on and captured the city. In November 1863 the Ever Victorious Army of Charles Gordon recaptured the city from the Taiping forces.
The next crisis that met the city was the Japanese invasion in 1937. Many gardens were devastated by the end of the war. In the early 1950s, restoration was done on gardens such as Zhuo-Zheng Yuan (Humble Administrator's Garden) and Liu Yuan (Lingering Garden) to bring them back to life.
Now Suzhou is famous for tour city and industry park. The industry in the outskirts of Suzhou is very prosperious.
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