Suzhou is one of the first group of the 24 famous historical and cultural cities and one of the first group of top tourist cities in China . Suzhou is a land of water with criss-crossed rivers and lakes, picturesque scenery, and has a large number of historical sites. Near Suzhou are a number of ancient towns of water such as Tongli, Zhouzhuang, Luzhi, and Mudu. With a history of over 1,000 years, all these small towns are well-preserved, showing unique rural scenery, imposing dwellings and spacious courtyards of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, unsophisticated folk customs, and an elegant environment. Suzhou is also well known for its landscaped gardens. It has over 70 ancient, elegant, beautifully built and exquisite gardens.
As one of the famous tourist cities in China , Suzhou has made a great improvement to its basic facilities and tourist functions. Suzhou is accessible by plane, train and bus. Star-rated hotels with good services and reasonable guesthouses and hostels provide a range of lodging. Of course, tasting local delicacies should not be forgotten in your journey. Authentic Suzhou cuisines and snacks can be found in Guan Qian Street , where delicious food and friendly service are memorable. When night falls, Suzhou City is quiet and peaceful. You can enjoy it while sipping a cup of tea in any teahouse.
Suzhou has slightly cold winter and humid summer. The best time to visit is during the spring and autumn seasons.
The Humble Administrator's Garden - First constructed in the fourth year of the Zhengde reign period of the Ming Dynasty, the Humble Administrator's Garden enjoys equal popularity with the Summer Palace in Beijing , Chengde Mountain Summer Resort, and the Linger-in Garden . With the lotus pond as the center, the buildings in the garden are few and far between, displaying an ancient and natural style and showing the Ming architecture style with large ponds and lushy growing trees.
Linger-in Garden - It is one of the major gardens in Suzhou . It is famous for itys composition and variety. The central part is characterized by hills and water and is quiet and peaceful. The eastern part features double-eaved buildings. The northern part has rural scenery and the western part has natural scenery.
Fishing-Net Master's Garden - This exquisite garden was first designed during the Song Dynasty (960 - 1279) as part of a residence that was used until the Taiping Rebellion in the 1860's. It was later restored and became the residence of a government official from whom the garden got its name. It is said that in a moment of frustration with bureaucracy he declared that he would rather be a fisherman than a bureaucrat. The garden is divided into three sections: a residential section, the central main garden and an inner garden. The main garden has a large pond that is surrounded by pathways and a variety of buildings such as the Ribbon Washing Pavillion, and the Pavillion for the advent of the Moon and Wind. There are many more buildings that are situated so that there is never a sense of crowding, but always of spaciousness. As is common in Suzhou gardens, the pond has a small pavilion in it. Here the pavilion is accessible by a bridge that is less than one foot wide. Even more than the architectural achievement is the mood of tranquility and harmony that this humble garden embodies.
Silk Museum - Suzhou is said to be the Silk capital of China . The Suzhou Silk Museum is located in this famous city, which people call " Paradise on Earth". The entire museum design is dignified and elegant - yet unconventional - combining a sense of ancient civilization with modern style. The dominant color of Suzhou Silk Museum is white, which represents the purity of silk. Strolling through the gate of the museum, you can see a long and elegant wall running from south to north, crossing an east-to-west road symbolizing the Silk Road . The wall curves at the entrance, symbolizing the softness and elegance of the silk. In front of the wall, there are three tall sculptures made of white marble. The first shows a girl picking mulberry leaves (the silkworm's favorite food); the second, a girl washing the raw silk fabric; the third, a girl weaving. The three sculptures give the whole museum a dynamic beauty, imparting a sense of freshness to the style of both the construction and the decoration. A tower-shaped roof on the main building of the museum reminds people of the exotic flavor of the Silk Road .
Pan Gate - Panmen City Gate was first built during the Wu Kingdom of Spring and Autumn Period (770BC-476BC) and it is the only well preserved water-and-land city gate in the world now. It consists of the land city gate, the water city gate, the city gate tower, the Weng City and the city wall on both sides. It was a place with utmost importance for the army in ancient times. Many ancient weapons are on display on the first floor of the tower.
Tiger Hill - Tiger Hill, known also as Surging Sea Hill, is a large hillock covering some14100 square metres (over three acres) and is 36 metres (118 feet) in height. Climbing the hill, you will find a number of historical sites some of which can be traced back over 2500 years to the founding of Suzhou . Although the hill is relatively small it has rich history. The Tiger Hill Temple , constructed on the slope of the hill, is hidden in the forest and the green hill. The Yunyan Pagoda, is known as the "Leaning Tower of Pisa in the East".
Lion Grove Garden - It is known as the " Kingdom of Rockeries " - because of the many rocks grotesque in shapes in the garden resembling lions. Ancient buildings in the Lion Grove Garden maintain the Yuan style. It is a representative work of Yuan architecture. The garden also occupies a very important place in history, representing the diversity of cultural and architectural development in Suzhou over the years.
Pavilion of the Surging Waves - It is one of the oldest gardens in Suzhou . Before entering the garden, you can see beautiful scenery composed of a green water pool that is surrounded by a growth of weeping willows. In the garden you will see incredible man made rock formations that are divided into two parts. On the eastern side, the earth has been mixed with natural yellow stones and built in such a manner that it resembles a natural hill. On the western side, exquisite stones from the lake have been used to create another naturally appearing hill. Both of these rock formations have been planted with green trees and viridian bamboos that add to the beauty of the scene and create the sensation of walking in a primitive mountain forest. There are also winding corridors with pavilions that link the hills and pools together.
Huanxiu Mountain Villa - This is a garden of the Qing Dynasty, know for its rockery art. Its rockeries rank first in the ancient gardens of Suzhou .
Zhouzhuang - This is the leading waterside village in China . The simple, bright and quiet scenes of waterside streets linked by bridges, compounds by the river with connecting courtyards, ridged roofs with high eaves, verandas and archways, waterside buildings, stone railings among bamboo groves, and pavilions close to the river, constitute a veritable landscape painting of a typical waterside village south of China's Yanagtze River. The world renowned Shuangqiao Bridge is unique and very beautiful.
Tongli Town - Tongli is one of the best preserved waterside towns in Jiangsu Province . This town is full of architecture of the Ming and Qing Dynasties such as - the Chingben Hall and the Jiayin Hall. The famous Tuisi Garden consists of rockeries, pavilions, halls, corridors and studios, each of them featuring music, calligraphy, and paintings. Tongli is now a highly praised historical site and tourist resort and enjoys increasing popularity with travel enthusiasts.
Luzhi - Luzhi is an ancient culture town in the land of water south of the Yangtze River . On both banks of the rivers are many residential houses and shops, showing a typical well-arranged and lively waterside town. The natural beauty of the town is indescribable. Old stone bridges, limpid water, venerable maidenhair trees and old-style dwellings, as well as the traditional women's costumes, create an ideal "civilized, rich, pastoral and harmonious" environment. Many travellers from all over the world enjoy the peace and tranquillity. In addition, Luzhi town is noted for several historical and cultural relics, such as Baosheng temple, the Wansheng Rice Company and the White Lotus Flower Temple of the North Song Dynasty.
Mudu - The name 'Mudu' is derived from a story about Xishi, one of the Four Beauties in Chinese history. Surrounded by groups of hills and next to Taihu Lake , Mudu has beautiful natural scenery and abundant natural resources. It is a traditional town and has typical landscape gardens, small rivers and bridges. Unlike the prosperous eastern cities in China , Mudu displays a simple, peaceful image.
Changsu - Under the jurisdiction of Suzhou City , Changsu is a famous historical and cultural city, a top tourist city adn one of the birthplaces of Wu culture. Changsu boasts of green hills, clear waters, picturesque scenery, and historical sites. The modern scenic spot, Shajiabang, is a perfect combination of ecological tourism and patriotic education.
Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple) - In the poem, A Night Mooring near Maple Bridge, Zhang Ji, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, described the midnight bell rings of the Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple). Since then, the temple has become famous, especially for its bell rings and Buddhism culture. Around the Cold Mountain Temple , you can also enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Maple Bridge , where Zhang Ji's boat was once moored, and get a realistic feel of the ordinary life of the people living in the Fengqiao Old Town . You can also have a look at the famous Jinghang Canal , which is the longest ancient man-made canal in the world.
West Garden Temple - This is the largest temple in Suzhou City . It blends garden art and temple art. In the temple you can see the ancient trees flourish, the temple houses layer upon layer, the bending river, the green grass, hear the birds singing and smell the fragrant flowers.
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