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zhouzhuang Water Town

Zhouzhuang_Water_Town
Zhouzhuang Water Town (Chinese: 苏州周庄古镇)

A Brief Introduction of Zhouzhuang
Zhouzhuang, one of the most famous water townships in China, situated in Kunshan City which is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Suzhou. It is noted for its profound cultural background, the well preserved ancient residential houses, the elegant watery views and the strong local colored traditions and customs. In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476 BC), Zhouzhuang was a part of the fief Yaocheng and called Zhenfengli. After being donated to Full Fortune (Quanfu) Temple by Zhou Digong, a very devout Buddhist, in 1086 during the Northern Song Dynasty (960 - 1127), Zhouzhuang got its present name as a memorial of the donor

In an area of half a square kilometer (124 acres), 60 percent of the Zhouzhuang's structures were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, which is from 1368 to 1911. Taking the most convenient form of transport in Zhouzhuang, a gondola, we will present some of the breathtaking sights one by one. 

In the Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC-476 BC), Zhouzhuang Suzhou was a part of the fief Yaocheng and called Zhenfengli. After being donated to Full Fortune (Quanfu) Temple by Zhou Digong, a very devout Buddhist, in 1086 during the Northern Song Dynasty(960-1127), Zhouzhuang got its present name.Zhouzhuang is a popular tourist destination, classified as a AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. It 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 has been called the "Venice of the East"

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What to see
Shen House (沈厅)
The Hall of Shen’s Residence, originally known as Jingye Tang, was built by Shen Wansan’s (a legendary tycoon in the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River) descendant Shen Benren in the year of 1742. Shen House is divided into three parts. The former part is water gateways and wharves for the locals’ daily chores like washing and anchoring. It is typical architecture of water village of the south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The middle part is the hallway, main hall, and tea room. Meetings, funerals, weddings can be held here. The third part is the back hall and some rooms for the locals’ living. All rooms and halls are connected by corridors. If travelers are fond of engravings, they can find many masterpieces in Shen House. Having been devastated during the year of 1966-1976, the residence relived after restoration since 1983. And now, as a Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at Jiangsu provincial level, it enjoys great popularity amongst visitors.

Zhang House (张厅)
As one of the few architecture of Ming Dynasty style, Zhang House, covering an area of 1800 square metres and boasting over 70 rooms, is listed as a Major Historical and Cultural Site Protected at Jiangsu provincial level. It is said it was construct in the Zhengtong Period (1436-1449) of Ming Dynasty and was sold out to a Zhang’s family, thus changing its name from Yishun Tang to Yuyan Tang (commonly known as Zhang Ting). Through five hundred plus years, the Zhang House still remains grand as a dwelling of the well-off. For those who come from metropolises, sauntering inside is by no means seeking sheer thrills, but dissolving frustration or wretchedness in the beauty and peace of the house.

Residence of Shen Wansan (沈万三故居)
This attraction, based on relevant stories of Shen Wansan, vividly displays how he obtained his wealth, his bumpy experience, legendary lifetime and the daily life of the whole family via bronze statues, brick carvings, carved lacquerware, realistic models, comic strips, clay sculptures and any other means of aesthetic expressions. It is no doubt that it is a human landscape of moment in Zhouzhuang.Twin Bridge (双桥)

Twin Bridge is made up of a stone arch bridge –Shide Bridge (世德桥) and a stone beam bridge – Yong’an Bridge (永安桥). The locals also refer to it as Key Bridge (钥匙桥) because of the shape of the two bridge holes, one being round, the other square, much like the keys people use in the ancient times. These two stone bridges was first constructed between 1573 and 1619, and then renovated several times later. Shide Bridge spans 16 metres, 3 metres wide, while Yong’an Bridge is 13.3 metres long, 2.4 metres wide. Every year, numerous art college students will come here to fill their sketch books with drawings of the splendid scenery of Zhouzhuang. Photographers prefer this magic place, too. Finding a vintage point, you can fix your experience with your camera. 

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Fuan Bridge (富安桥)
Located in the east end of Zhongshi Street (中市街), the bridge was originally known as Zongguan Bridge (总管桥). At first, it was made of bluestones, but after years’ of restoration, it is now made of granites. Shen Wansi (沈万四), Shen Wansan's brother was said to have contributed to the bridge, and the name of the bridge was the best exemplification of his wish for wellbeing when he became rich. Since the year of 1988, four bridge houses had been repaired where tea house, souvenir shops are available. Not only can travelers take some rest, but also appreciate and shoot pictures of the water village. If you are carefully enough, you can discover pieces of Wukang stone, which is the positive proof of the long history of FuanBridege.

Mi Building (迷楼)
Standing along Zhenfeng Bridge, built in the Guangxu Period (1871-1908), the building was once called De Ji Hotel (德记酒店). Actually, at that time, Zhouzhuang had already been a commercial port where pyramids of stores were set up and De Ji Hotel can remain to be an outstanding one is owing to its ideal location. Besides, the founders of Nan She, a cultural organization in modern and contemporary Chinese history, Liu Yazi, Chen Qubing once wrote a hundred more poems in the building, which were compiled as An Anthology of the Mi Building (《迷楼集》).

Quanfu Lecture Temple (全福讲寺) 
Built in 1086, the main architecture was Hall of Mahavira, in which the Buddha was enshrined, guarded by Ma?ju?rī and Samantabhadra. The mere sight of the grand temple inspired a calligrapher Li Xiangen of Qing Dynasty to inscribe "Buddha Kingdom in Water" on the horizontal board. However, in the 1950s it was converted into a grain depot with most figures of Buddha and invaluable items destroyed. Fortunately, with the reform and opening-up policy, the new Quanfu Lecture Temple was completed. The erstwhile magnificence and exquisiteness are unfolding just before your eyes.

Nanhu Park (南湖园)
Laying on the south of Zhouzhuang village town, Nanhu Park is also known as Nan Bai Dang (南白荡). One third of it belongs to Zhouzhuang, the other to Wujiang City. Nanhu Park, covering 8.9 acres, is divided into four scenic areas, namely, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter. The Spring scenic area and Summer scenic area feature water and hill garden; architecture in the style of the ancients can be found in the Autumn scenic area; the Winter scenic area has a concentration of religious architectural complex, drawing countless devotees every year. For your information, cruises are available; the price is 40RMB per boat for sightseeing, 80RMB for surfing; each boat is limited to six persons.

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Pailou and Quanfu Pagoda (牌楼塔影)
On the junction of the new and old town on the south end of Quanfu Road stands a mock-Ming Dynasty pailou. It is so solemn that it looks like a gate of the village town. On the north, a horizontal board inscribed with "贞丰泽国" is glaring. On the west, there stands a pagoda called Quanfu Pagoda (全福塔). Built in 1987, 33 metres tall, the pagoda has five tiers. Seen from atop, the vista of the town will shock you! No wonder it has become an emblem of Zhouzhuang. Besides, some festivals or events are often held around pailou and Quanfu pagoda. Most travelers will commemorate the moment in a photo as long as they are in Zhouzhuang.

Zhenfeng Bridge (贞丰桥)
Connecting Xiwan Street (西湾街) and Zhenfeng Alley (贞丰弄), the Zhenfeng Bridge is a stone arch bridge, 12.2 metres long, 2.8 metres wide. It takes its name from the former name of Zhouzhuang–Zhen Feng Li.

References
"AAAAA Scenic Areas". China National Tourism Administration. 16 November 2008. Retrieved 9 April 2011. 

local Cuisine
In addition to taking the village's architectural and cultural aura, there are a number of culinary delights to enjoy in Zhouzhuang as well. There's Shen Wansan's Foot (万三蹄)—pork feet—which is the village's signature dish, as well as Sanweiyuan (三味圆), Apo's vegetables (阿婆菜), freshwater clams (蚬江水鲜), Wansan Family's Feast (万三家宴八大碗), white silk fish (白丝鱼) Wadesu (袜底酥) and Wansan's cake (万三糕).

Recommended Restaurant:
Songhelou Restaurant (松鹤楼菜馆)View In Map
Add: 55-56 Nanshi Jie, Zhouzhuang
地址:周庄镇南市街55-56号 
Tel: 512 5721 1848

Evening Performances
If you're staying the evening (and if you're not too tired), it's definitely worth checking out a performance put on by the locals year round, showcasing the local culture and folk customs.

Operating Time: 19:00-20:00 (spring and fall); 19:30-20:30 (summer and winter)

Ticket fee: 150 RMB (standard), 280 RMB (VIP)

Transportation
Get on the tourist special line at Shanghai Stadium (上海八万人体育场), which takes about 90 minutes. Get on tourist special line at Shanghai Hongkou Stadium (上海虹口体育馆), which takes about 120 minutes. 
- From Zhejiang. Get on tourist special line at Hangzhou Dragon Sports Centre (杭州市黄龙体育中心), which runs at 08:00 every Saturday.
- From Nanjing. Get on tourist special line at No. 400 Zhongshan South Road (中山南路400号), which runs at 06:30 every Saturday and Sunday.
- From Suzhou. Get on tourist special line at Suzhou North Bus Station (苏州汽车北站), which will take you about 90 minutes.
- From Kunshan. Get on tourist special line at Kunshan Bus Station (昆山汽车站), which will take you about one hour.

Information
Admission Fee: CNY100 
Address:38 kilometres from the southeast Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province.
Tickets to Zhouzhuang Water Village are good for three days. Tickets are valid from 08:00-16:00 and include free entrance to The Hall of Shen's Residence, Double Bridge, Culture Street and 13 other attractions. In addition "evening" tickets can be purchased for 80 RMB, and are valid from 16:00-21:00. No entrance ticket is required from 21:00-07:00.

Recommended Suzhou Water Town Tours including Zhouzhuang
1. Full Day Zhouzhuang Water Town Day Tour From Suzhou

2. One Day Suzhou Trip from Shanghai to Zhouzhuang and Jinxi Water Towns
3. 2 Days Suzhou Garden Tour With Zhouzhuang Water Town

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