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Suzhou City Guide

zhouzhuang view
Zhouzhuang Water Town Landscape

Suzhou, anciently called Wu, Wudu, Wuzhong, Dongwu, Wumen and Su for short, has more than 4000 years of history in accordance with the written record. The whole town was firstly established in 514 BC, and officially named Suzhou was in 589 during the reign of Sui Dynasty. It is named after a local hill, which the native people call it Gusu Hill in the southwest side of Suzhou. Suzhou is one of China’s first-batch 24 famous cities for history and culture, as well as the important tourist city of China. Suzhou is also one of the four special environmental-protection cities and one of important central cities in Yangtze River Delta. Suzhou is the center of economy, foreign trade, industry, commerce and logistics. Suzhou is also an important center of culture, art, education and transportation. Suzhou is the most populous city of Jiangsu province, also the most modernized city with the largest economic aggregate of Jiangsu province.

Suzhou situated on the lakefront of Taihu Lake and sea estuary on the south side of Yangtze River. It is the closest city to Shanghai, and many domestically important rails go across Suzhou like Beijing-Shanghai Railway, Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway, Shanghai-Nanjing Inter-City High-Speed Railway as well as several highways. Currently, Suzhou administrates five county-level cities: Kunshan, Wujiang, Changshu, Taicang and Zhangjiagang. These county-level cities are quite powerful in the aspect economic development. Suzhou is the backyard of Shanghai. Many workers in Shanghai lead an inter-city life: working in Shanghai and living in Suzhou. The interconnection between Shanghai and Suzhou has lessened the difference, and in the eyes of Chinese people, there is no distinction between Shanghai people and Suzhou people, because the many Shanghai rich men are from Suzhou. They live in Shanghai but operate their factories or companies in Suzhou. And Suzhou people also have a habit to go shopping in Shanghai every week.

Suzhou internationally famous for its garden, so in this way, Suzhou is known as The Paradise on Earth, Garden City, Oriental Venice and Oriental Water Capital. Today, Suzhou has been a city featuring the integration of hills, water, forests, gardens and towns. The most prominent characteristic of Suzhou is the perfect oneness of classicism and modernity. As a worldwide noted ancient city, Suzhou successfully held the 2004 World Heritage Conference.



Suzhou History and Heritage

In 514 BC, King Helv of Wu Kingdom together with Wu Zixu(伍子胥), an exiling officer of Chu Kingdom in Spring and Autumn Period, built up Helv Grand Town as the capital of Wu Kingdom. Since then, Suzhou has experienced a history over 25oo years, and today, there are lots of ancient sites connected with Xi Shi and Wu, and a great number of place names still keep the original. In 589, Sui Dynasty, the government officially named it Suzhou. Gu Xiegang(顾颉刚), a great and famous historian for suspecting the traditional historic standpoints, considered Suzhou as the most ancient city of China via his textual research. Suzhou is the cradle of Wu regional culture and also the origin of Chinese civilization. Suzhou has two national historic and cultural cities(Suzhou and Changshu), and 10 famous cultural and historic towns of China: Kunshan Zhouzhuang Water Town, Wujiang Tongli Water Town, Wuzhong Luzhi Water Town, Wuzhong Mudu Ancient Town, Taicang Shaxi Water Town, Kunshan Qiandeng Ancient Town, Kunshan Jingxi Ancient Town, Changshu Shajiabang Town, Wuzhong Dongshan Town, Zhangjiagang Phoenix Town. The well-preserved ancient towns include Lili Town, Shengze Town and Pingwang Town of Wujiang as well as Liuhe Town of Taicang. The famous villages for culture and history include Dongshan Village and Mingyuewan Village of Wuzhong. Pingjiang Road and Shantang Street are ranked as two of China’s first batch of ten top historic and cultural streets.

suzhou classic gardens
The classic landscape of Suzhou traditional gardens themed with the oneness of natural landscape
and cultural landscape, and it absolutely shows the traditional aesthetics of China


Suzhou established as a city has a huge scale indeed, and it still maintains the double chess-board layout featuring the water-land paralleling transportation and river-street adjacency. Today, the major part of downtown area is still located on the original site. The cultural-site density of Suzhou ancient city is next to Beijing and Xian. It has many sites of World Cultural Heritage and Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Kunqu Opera as the representative of Chinese intangible cultural heritage sites, Yangcheng-Lake Crabs as the famous local dish and Zhouzhuang as the landmark of Jiangnan travel are three calling cards of Suzhou in the international community. In general, Suzhou is globally famous for its gardens, which are ranked as one of top 10 tourist attractions in China, and nine of them are written into the list of World Cultural Heritage. China traditionally has four most famous gardens, Suzhou has two of them: Humble Administrator’s Garden (Zhuozhengyuan Garden) and Lingering Garden (Liuyuan Garden). Up to 2009, Suzhou had six sites of intangible heritage written into UNESCO’s Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Currently, Suzhou Ancient Zone and Jiangnan Water Towns were listed into the tentative of World Heritage. Tiger Hill Scenic Area and Hanshan Temple are the must-see tourist destinations of Suzhou.

Suzhou is a cultural center of China, the Kunqu opera and Pingtan are the local oral arts. It is in possession of a huge number of national key tourist attractions represented by Xuanmiao Taoist Temple, Pagoda of Yunyan Temple, Pagoda of Ruiguang Temple, Confucius Temple of Suzhou, Huanxiu Villa and so on. Suzhou cuisine and snacks are also quite popular in east China and the representative of Southeast China food. Biluochun Tea(碧螺春)is a top green tea produced in Suzhou


suzhou kunqu opera
Suzhou Kunqu Opera Show
suzhou kunqu opera
Suzhou Kunqu Opera Show




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