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Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare

South Song Imperial Thoroughfare
Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare in Hangzhou famous as the old site of exclusive street
of South Song Dynasty. For specific map, please click here

Renowned as one of the most important archaeological discoveries in 2004, Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare is the evidence of Southern Song Dynasty history. During this period, Hangzhou was the capital. Hangzhou as one of Chinese seven top ancient capitals has a long history and distinctively features its natural landscape and cultural tradition. In history, the famous literators stayed and visited around the West Lake Scenic Area and left many poems highly spoke of the charm of Hangzhou. Nowadays, as the further archaeological exploration, the glory of ancient Hangzhou is partially shown at present. In 2004, for constructing the east part of Wansongling tunnel(万松岭隧道), the section of Yanguanxiang, the builders discovered Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare. After the elaborative reconstruction, this site was attractively exhibited, and it witnesses the peak time of Hangzhou as the capital of Southern Song Dynasty. Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare re-appears the original appearance of Southern Song Dynasty and forms the capital cultural circle of Southern Song. This thoroughfare plus the drum tower built in Ming and Qing Dynasties, architectural complex of the Republic of China, the residential buildings of modern times, absolutely shapes this historic and cultural site.

Also, Translated into Southern Song Imperial Street, Southern Song Imperial Thoroughfare used to be the exclusive way for Imperial Sacrifice to Heaven. Every three years, emperors held a three-day national rite for sacrificing to the heaven. The emperors along the imperial thoroughfare to Jingling Palace(景灵宫) for ancestor worship and living a vegetarian life. The emperor stayed in Jingling Palace for a night, and then returned to Imperial Memorial(太庙, or Superior Temple, near to the Drum Tower at present) for a night, and then go to the outside of town to sacrifice to the heaven, and then stayed there for a night and returned to palace. It was said that the guards used the sands instead of the flagstones to avoid breaking the flagstones.

At the time, the imperial thoroughfare was quite important to the citizens, because the two sides were tens of thousands of shops, and half of the population of Hangzhou(was called Linan at the time) lived around the thoroughfare. Specifically, the ten-mile imperial thoroughfare could be divided into three sections. The first section is from Wansongling to Drum Tower, which is the political center of South Song Dynasty and near to the palace and the central organs of government. The relatives of emperors and high officials lived nearby this area, and surely the consumption and purchasing power are the strongest. Therefore, these stores mostly sold the high-level luxuries like the gold, silver and treasures. The second part from the Drum Tower to Zhongan Bridge is centered on Yangbatou and Guangxiangkou, and this section was the business center of that time, and most stores sold the daily commodities. In accordance with the record of Meng Liang Lu(梦梁录, The Record of Dreaming about Bianliang, which obviously embodies the aspiration of South Song Dynasty to repossess the lost territory occupied by Jin Kingdom, a stronger state operated by a northern minority of ancient China), there used to be more than 120 famous and time-honored stores. The last section from Zhongan Bridge to Wulinlu and Fengqilu featured the mixture of business and cultural entertainment. This is the largest entertainment center of capital, which was historically called Beiwa(北瓦). Diversity of performances like puppet plays, acrobatics and shadow plays, and every day, there were tens of thousands of citizens enjoyed themselves in this section.

Where to visit this historic site: Southern Song Ruins, Yanguan Roadway, Hangzhou.
How to arrive there: 13, K13, K522, 834, K308, K87, 87, K510, 510, K198, K195, K501, 501

Writer: David from Seeraa International
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