What did you come to Suzhou for? The ancient towns, classic gardens, quiet creeks, beautiful lakes, or the refreshing Biluochun tea and a wealth of local snack? Today we’re digging into the city’s charm and find what’s enchanting for you.
Suzhou is a city of gardens. The Ming and Qing dynasties between the 14th and 20th century were its prime periods of garden building, when at one time there were more than 200 private family gardens. A dozen of them are still in good condition today, including the top four classic gardens–the Fisherman’s Net Garden, Lion Grove, Humble Administrator’s Garden and Lingering Garden.
With a network of such abundance of lakes and waterways, no wonder there are several ancient waterfront towns scattering in the city. Tongli is among the most famous. The town has not suffered from war since it was inaccessible in the old times. Therefore more ancient buildings are preserved, among which we can still enjoy the traditional houses densely settled on the sides of the fine banks piled by Jinshan Stone, and winding alleys and streets paved with pebble stones still keep the ancient appearance. There are 24 bridges at the intersection of waterways. The Siben Bridge built in the Southern Song dynasty is simple and archaic. The Fu’guan Bridge built in the Yuan dynasty is grandiose.
Lakes and canals
There’re lakes and canals across the city, giving Suzhou the name of ‘Venice of the Orient’. In Suzhou the lakes are not only beautiful in their vastness and nature but hugely significant to China as a whole. Take an example. Xishan, or West Hill Scenic Zone is a national geological park listed as an area of national importance, being the third largest freshwater lake in China. The views there, thanks to an array of islands and peaks, are unmatched, and its history, ecology, life and significance are as vast as it is.
Meanwhile, it is located along the Grand Canal and other canals and waterways. These are both inspiration to all for their grandeur and excellence, and testament to a colorful and rich history, having served as cradle for much of Suzhou’s heritage and livelihood. Suzhou’s success owes itself to the plentitude of this resource, and in modern Suzhou, water ways continue to flow gloriously.
It all started in ancient times for Suzhou, the Yangtze River, and the Yangtze River delta. Transportation was trouble-free, an commercial activities sprouted unrestrained. The people of Suzhou were wise and built aquatic lanes within the city boundaries, effortlessly moving people and goods around. Historic blocks like Shantang and Pingjiang are living proof to this time. Commercial trade with other cities and regions also grew, bringing further wealth and progress.
The flavor dish in Suzhou is Huaiyang cuisine, originated in areas around Yangzhou and prospered in the Ming and Qing dynasties of ancient China. Huaiyang dishes are quite picky about choice of materials and require good knife work. While local dishes in Suzhou adds some sweet flavor and develops its own feature dishes.
Meanwhile, Suzhou Taihu Lake abounds with high-quality green tea, and local people have the habit of cooking with tea leaves. By adding tea leaves into dishes of fresh shrimp, chicken, tofu, beef, fish and vegetable, they create some unique dishes with a faint scent that enriches the flavors of the dishes.