The Thousand-year Charm, The Floating Culture

The Subject for China Grand Canal (Jiangsu Section)

Profile of The Canal

By passing through from north to south in several thousand km and thousand years, China Grand Canal is a significant sign for Chinese civilization.

China Grand Canal is world cultural heritage firstly built in BC 486 of the Spring and Autumn Period and is composed of three great parts as Suitang Grand Canal, Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and Eastern Zhejiang Canal and ten river ways. By spanning 8 provinces and municipalities directly under the central government including Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, 27 sections of river ways and 58 heritage points in 27 cities, it is 2,700m long totally (including the heritage river way in 1,011m long), is the canal that was canalized the earliest, has the largest size, the longest routine and lasts the longest time worldwide and has been listed into the most influential water way in International Canal Historical Site List by International Industrial Heritage Protection Commission.

Jiangsu is the province that the grand canal has the longest river way along, flows through the most cities, has the richest canal heritage, has been listed the most world cultural heritage points and sections, has been preserved the best and has the highest utility rate.

For the 1,797km long grand canal, it is 690km long in Jiangsu, and passes through 8 prefecture-level cities including Xuzhou, Suqian, Huai’an, Yangzhou, Zhenjiang, Changzhou, Wuxi and Suzhou with almost a half population living along.

The 1st Grand Canal Culture Tourism Expo

The 1st Grand Canal Culture Tourism Expo will be held at Yangzhou, Jiangsu during April 26th to 28th, 2019

In recent years, our country has attached great importance to the canal protection, emphasized that the Grand Canal is the very valuable heritage left to us by our ancestors, so we should protect it well, inherit it well and make good use of it as a whole.

To hold The 1st Grand Canal Culture Tourism Expo in Yangzhou, it is not only the full affirmation on Yangzhou grand canal protection work, but is also the encourage and expectation for Yangzhou to continue to protect well, inherit well and utilize well the grand canal under the new situation.

The 1st Grand Canal Culture Tourism Expo will last 3 days and will have very rich activity content, high density and wide distribution. It will extend to the heart of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and Marco Polo Flower World in the east, to the culture & art center in the west, to Sanwan Garden in the south and to Flower Collection in the north, and more than 20 activities in 6 types including light show,  opera performance of The Canal, refined tourism product display, intangible cultural heritage show, theme forum, tourism equipment exhibition and cate carnival etc. will spread all over the city.  

Households along the ancient canal

Each place has its own way of supporting its own inhabitants, the local people then combine with the local land as a community of common future, finalizing it as an abundant place with dense population

Suzhou: both rigid and soft canal and ancient city gate

The ancient city Suzhou has become a paradise that merchants have flocked here from all parts of the country owing to Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Even to this day, almost a half volume of goods transported for Suzhou is still undertaken by water. When having a night tour by boat along the ancient canal, you can see gorgeous light reflecting into the waves of ripples and on the flickering willow branches. Visitors will pass 10 ancient city gates in Suzhou including Panmen, Xumen, Jinmen and Lvmen etc. and 20 bridges of different styles.

The ancient town along canal:

Mudu Ancient Town: The three-thousand year old Mudu has been prosperous since the ancient times.

Mudu has multiple historical relics and excellent ecological environment that represent Suzhou and integrates Suzhou rich merchant gardens, landscape, townspeople and water town, religious tourism etc. (illustration & chain)

Pingwang Ancient Town: with skylight water, it looks flat as far as the eyes can reach

“The pulsating ancient town along the canal, the floating historical poems of Wu and Yue kingdoms”– as a “Beijing-Hangzhou Ancient Canal Town”full of very strong historical and humane atmosphere, Pingwang is standing in the center of Wujiang District, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, and has enjoyed the reputation as “Small Fengqiao” all the time. As“a historical and cultural famous town in Jiangsu Province”, Pingwang can date back to 5,200 years for its history and Longnan Village Site is twinkling with the intelligence of Pingwang ancestors in Liangzhu Culture Period.

Wuxi: the most distinct Chinese style along the canal

Qingming Bridge Historical and Cultural Block standing along the ancient canal hangs a cluster of red lanterns every 6m along the 1.3km banks, there are over 900 clusters of 2,000 red lanterns along the almost 3km extension line, adding much festival atmosphere to the ancient canal and showing very spectacular scene. In the recent five years, Qingming Bridge Historical and Cultural Block has won such honors as one of China Top Ten Historical and Cultural Blocks, China Famous Commercial Street, the State Grade AAAA Scenic Area and The Best Park Award of China Creation Industry in line and it is the only historical block which owns “state honors” in terms of culture, commerce and tourism.

The ancient town along canal:

Huishan Ancient Town: the “living fossil”of Chinese ancestral hall culture

Huishan Ancient Town has collected cultural relics and historic sites with more than one hundred places of interest, including 18 state, province and city cultural relics, 26 historical famous cultural relics and 61 ancient trees of 19 varieties. Firstly built in the Southern & Northern Dynasty 1,600 years ago, it has spanned the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties and has been called as “an open history museum” in Wuxi. Having gathered very rich material and intangible cultural heritage here, it is a collective display area for Kingdom Wu culture.  

Changzhou: feel a high quality tour along the prosperous canal

Changzhou water tour along the ancient canal starts from Biji Lane in the west that Emperor Qianlong landed several times, extends to Dongpo Garden in the east, keeps pace with Yanling Road that is most prosperous in Changzhou, and is a classical tourism routine along the ancient canal. The gaily-painted pleasure-boat is both luxurious and classical with comfortable environment, by sitting in the boat, tourists may taste tea and view scenery, listen to the guide telling stories with the Suzhou soft dialect that happened along banks of the thousand-year old canal and enjoy happiness to the fullest by sparing a moment of leisure from busy life.

Zhenjiang: a thousand-year ancient city at the junction of Yangtze River and the ancient canal

Zhenjiang is located at the junction of China’s two great golden water ways — the Yangtze River and the ancient canal. With adjoining mountains and rivers and charming sight, Zhenjiang has enjoyed the reputation as “city mountain forest”all the time. The Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Zhenjiang section is 42.6km long totally and is one of the sections that have the largest and most dense transport volume along the grand canal.

Yangzhou: the essence of the Grand Canal Jiangsu section

Yangzhou has been regarded as the oldest son of the Grand Canal with abundant historical and cultural relics. Among the 27 river way sections and 58 relic points of the Grand Canal that were firstly listed into the world heritage,6 river way sections as Liyun River, Yangzhou Ancient Canal, Guazhou Canal, Gaoyou Mingqing Canal Old Path, Shaobo Mingqing Canal Old Path and Guhangou Old Path, and 10 heritage points including Liubao Reducing Sluice, Yucheng Posthouse, Shaobo Ancient Causeway, Slender West Lake, Tianning Temple Temporary Palace, Geyuan Garden, Wanglumen Residence, Yanzong Temple and Lu Shaoxu Salt Merchant Residence in Yangzhou are covered.

The ancient town along canal:

Shaobo Ancient Town: generated from water, booming owing to the canal

By melting the southern and northern culture, gathering cate and collecting fresh and rich food materials from rivers and lakes in all seasons of particular flavor, Shaobo Ancient Town beside the Grand Canal is a cate culture inheritance base and a famous catering town of Jiangsu Province, is the most important protection zone for the Grand Canal heritage, a famous town of Chinese history and culture and a hometown for Jiangsu Province folk songs and music.

Huai’an: the capital of China Grand Canal

The canal has brought glories to Huai’an for thousand years and left very valuable treasure, resulting in the title “The Capital of China Grand Canal” for it. Qingjiang Sluice is the only stone sluice that has been well reserved from the Ming Dynasty along the canal.

The Grand Canal cultural heritage reserved in Huai’an today is categorized into two as the tangible cultural heritage and intangible cultural heritage.

The tangible cultural heritage mainly includes the great amount of river way project relics, the related facility relics including the General Inspector Office of Water Transport of Grain, the General Inspector Office of Rive Way and the ship plant of water transport of grain etc., the ancestral temple relics including Huiji Ancestral Temple, King Temple and Ancestral Hall of Two Sirs Chen & Pan and the ancient town relics along the canal etc.; the intangible cultural heritage is diversified, including the canal worker culture, culture for water transport of grain, opera culture and cate culture etc.  

The ancient town along canal:

Hexia Ancient Town: the hometown of successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations, and the birthplace for the masterpiece Pilgrimage to the West

Many historical figures including the heroine Liang Hongyu and the literature master Wu Cheng’en etc. were born here. In the Ming and Qing dynasties, here had generated 67 successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations, 123 successful candidates in the imperial examinations at the provincial level and 12 members of the Imperial Academy, so it was called as “the hometown of successful candidates in the highest imperial examinations” and has enjoyed very profound cultural deposits.

Suqian: the tolerance beauty of the canal and city

The canal passes through Xuzhou City, enters Suqian City from north to south and passes and winds through Suqian urban area by turning to the southeast from northwest in a bow shape. The canal in Suqian has integrated the city and the canal in real terms.

Xuzhou: “the small Hong Kong” along Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal

The ancient town along canal:

Having been reputed as the first ancient town at the bank of China Grand Canal and standing at Luoluoma Lake bank, Yaowan is called as a thousand-year ancient water town and has been famous owing to its old, primitive, beautiful and prosperous characteristics.

Yaowan Ancient Town was named owing to the frequently occurred torrential flood has brought abundant silt which became the best material for burning pottery, therefore it is a significant means of livelihood for local people to use soils to burn bricks and tiles and also as it is located at the turning point of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

The Canal Cate

Along the thousand Li long canal line, the canal cate have to be mentioned too:

Yangzhou Shaobo Lake -- chicken lobster:

Shaobo Lake is located in the north of Yangzhou, the water way of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal passes through it and it is suitable for the growth of various lake food owing to the dense water network and clear lake water.

Gaoyou Lake -- “June Yellow”

June Yellow refers to the crab in the lunar June which is not grown up yet, but the young crab just has crab roe, its meat is tender and smooth, its shell is soft, and people would like to eat after cooking with the shell.  

Huainan Moon Lake -- common cattail:

The common cattail in Huai’an grows at the Moon Lake in the old urban area of Huai’an and has been called as the first common cattail under the sky.  

Pingqiao Bean Curd:

As an ancient town subordinated to Huai’an, Pingqiao is adjacent to the east bank of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, and the antique streets together with the primitive and thick folk customs have resulted it as an interesting and desirable place naturally. Emperor Qian Long of the Qing Dynasty once tasted Pingqiao bean curd here during his southern tour and praised again and again.

Wenlou Restaurant Steamed Buns with Soup

Built in the 8th year of Emperor Daoguang Period in the Qing Dynasty (1828), Wenlou Restaurant stands at the ancient town Hexia at the east side of the canal, scholars frequently climbed Wenlou Restaurant to view the lake scene, and then tasted the greatly fresh Wenlou steamed buns with soup, feeling pleased to both the eyes and the mind.

Braised mandarin fish in shape of squirrel, money shaped shrimp cake, ivory-like chicken slice, and pork balls with crab sauce:

Emperor Yang Guang of the Sui Dynasty once brought concubines and ministers and took the dragon boat and thousand ships to view Chinese snowball viburnum to Yangzhou along the Grand Canal, also viewed four famous scenic spots as Wansong Mountain, Money Mound, Ivory Forest and Sunflower Hillock in Yangzhou, feeling very happy. After returning to the imperial palace for his short stays away from the capital, the emperor summoned imperial cooks to make four dishes with Yangzhou four scenic spots as the subjects to commemorate his tour in Yangzhou. Under the guidance of Yangzhou famous cooks, the imperial cooks thought hard and worked hard, and finally cooked the four famous dishes as the braised mandarin fish in shape of squirrel, money shaped shrimp cake, ivory-like chicken slice and sunflower shaped meat (pork balls with crab sauce). After tasting, the emperor was greatly pleased and esp. praised highly of the pork balls with crab sauce, then he awarded the banquet to all ministers and since then Huaiyang dishes were greatly favored by the court and commonalty.