Zhouzhuang
China, Kunshan

Zhouzhuang is one of the most picturesque Chinese cities on the water, holder of 5A National status (equivalent to 5 *) in the ranking of tourist attractions in China, located in Kunshan County, 50 km from the city of Suzhou. Zhouzhuang is surrounded on all sides by a network of rivers and lakes that fill the canals with water, on the banks of which the city stands. Due to its rich cultural heritage, picturesque views, the beauty of canals and bridges, Zhouzhuang is called the “Chinese Venice”. The city already existed in the Spring and Autumn periods of ancient China (770 - 476 BC), in those days it was called Zhenfengli and was part of the feudal estate of Yocheng. The city received its current name in 1086, during the reign of the Northern Song Dynasty. After a wealthy city dweller and a very devout Buddhist Zhou Digong donated 200 acres of land to Quanfu Monastery, the city was renamed in his honor - Zhouzhuang (Zhou settlement). The heyday of the city came during the reign of the Ming Dynasty. Thanks to an extensive network of canals and rivers, citizens could easily reach Suzhou and Shanghai, which contributed to the development of trade. At the same time, the city was actively built up - churches and residential buildings were built on the banks of the canals, bridges were built. Prosperous merchants and dignitaries who did not spare money for the construction of luxurious villas and elegant stone bridges began to settle in the city. About 60% of urban buildings date back to the reign of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, most of the buildings to this day have retained their original appearance. In the historic center of Zhouzhuang, there are about 100 ancient Chinese courtyards, over 60 skillfully carved brick arches and 14 stone bridges. The symbol of Zhouzhuang and one of the most famous bridges of the city is considered to be the Shuangqiao Bridge (Double Bridge). It was built during the reign of Emperor Wanli, consists of two interconnected Shide and Yunan bridges. The Shide Bridge has a round arch, near the Yunan Bridge, the arch is rectangular, which makes the Double Bridge look like an old Chinese key. Zhouzhuang's oldest bridge is the Fuan Bridge, located at the eastern end of Zhongshijie Street. The bridge was built in 1355, during the reign of the Yuan Dynasty. On both sides of the arch bridge towers were erected, in which tea houses, restaurants and shops are now located. Another of the city's most famous attractions is the Shen House. The luxury villa was built in 1742 by Shen Wansan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan (territory in the south of the Yangtze River). Shen House is located on Nanshijie Street, southeast of Fuan Bridge. The residence covers an area of 2000 square meters, has seven courtyards, five arched walkways and more than 100 rooms. The territory is divided into three zones. The first zone includes the marina and the so-called "water gates", in the second zone there is the Tea Room and the Main Hall, which hosted magnificent receptions and various ceremonies. You can get into the Main Hall by going through a six-meter brick arch, on which the words "Do good always" are beaten out. The third zone was intended for residential quarters. Guests of the city can also see other attractions, including the Zhang Family House, the ancient Taoist temple of Chengxu, Milu Tower, take a gondola ride along the city canal, walk along ancient bridges, and try the Wansan Pork Shank national cuisine dish in many restaurants (pork drumstick prepared according to an old recipe).

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