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Suzhou is a city on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Lake Taihu in the province of Jiangsu, China. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), Suzhou has also been an important centre for China's silk industry and continues to hold that prominent position today. The city is part of the Yangtze River Delta region. The GDP per capita was ¥79,406 (ca. US$10,087) in 2006, ranked no. 5 among 659 Chinese cities.

Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. 2500 years ago in the late Shang Dynasty, local tribes who named themselves "Gou Wu" lived in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou.

In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helu of Wu established "Great City of Helu", the ancient name for Suzhou, as his capital. In 496 BC, Helu was buried in Huqiu.

In 473 BC Wu was defeated by Yue, a kingdom to the east which was soon annexed by the Chu in 306 BC. The golden era of Suzhou ended with this conquest. 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. Xiang Yu staged his historical uprising here in 209 BC, which contributed to the overthrow of Qin.

During the Sui Dynasty - in 589 AD - the city was renamed Suzhou.

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 (825 AD), the great poet Bai Juyi constructed the Shantang Canal to connect the city with Huqiu for tourists. In 1035 AD, the temple of Confucius was founded by famed poet and writer Fan Zhongyan . It became the venue for imperial civil examinations.

In February 1130, the advancing Jin army from the north ransacked and massacred the city. This was followed by the Mongol invasion (1275) and destruction of the royal city (in the centre of the walled city) in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1367).

Thereafter, the city had a more prosperous time. 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 Dong Yuan (East Garden) to bring them back to life.

In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should be treated as a priority project. Since then, with suburban economic projects, Suzhou has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in China.

Classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. It is possible to make a virtual tour at the UNESCO site in panorama through the wonderful Classical Gardens of Suzhou.

Places to visit:

• Pan Gate is 2,500 years old and was first built by the state of Wu in the Warring States Period. It is renowned for its unique structure as a combined water and land gate.
• Tiger Hill (Huqiu)
• Xuanmiao Guan (originally built in 276 AD, rebuilt in 1584)
• Huqiu Temple (originally built in 327, rebuilt in 1871)
• Cold Mountain Temple (Hanshan Si) (built in 503, destroyed and rebuilt many times, last reconstruction in 1896)
• Baodai Bridge (built in 816, rebuilt in 1442)
• Shantang Canal (built in 825)
• Yunyan Pagoda (built in 961)
• Ruiguang Pagoda (built in 1009)
• Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan) (built in 1525, rebuilt in 1953)
• Master of the Nets Garden (Wang Shi Yuan) (built in the Song Dynasty)
• Blue Wave Pavilion (Canglang Ting) (built in 1696)
• Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty
• Lion Grove Garden (built in 1342)
• Garden of Cultivation
• The Retreat & Reflection Garden
• Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan) (built in 1513, rebuilt in 1860)
• Gate of the Orient, the city's tallest building due for completion in 2007
• Suzhou Museum, the newly built museum by I. M. Pei
• No.1 Suzhou Silk factory the first silk factory in Suzhou

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July 2006


Anonymous said...

Hola!!!!soy de ESpaña a mi tambien me gusta viajar...¿A ti te gustan las peliculas de terror?

Travel said...

Hola Salva, para serte sincero, la verdad es que no me gustan las peliculas de Terror.

Un Saludo

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