The epitome of old Suzhou, the window of Kingdom Wu culture

Located in the northwest of the ancient city Suzhou, Qili Shantang connects Changmen, “a first and second rate rich and outstanding place in the world” in the east, borders “The No. 1 scenic spot in Wuzhong”, Huqiu, extends 3,600m totally and therefore is called as “Qili Shantang” (Qili equals to 3.5km) .

With very rich humane and natural landscape, very strong Kingdom Wu culture atmosphere, Shantang Scenic Area has more than 40 types of tourism resources dominated by thousand-year old streets, folk custom and culture activities, sacrifice activity venues, old building groups left from the Ming and Qing dynasties, guild halls and mansions etc. Shantang Street was firstly built in 825 with a history of almost 1,200 years and has been reputed as “the epitome of old Suzhou, the window of Kingdom Wu culture”.

Since being built, Shantang Street has become a tourist attraction owing to its reparative water region landscape. The whole street is in a layout of being side-by-side with the river way, the buildings are delicate and elegant composed of white walls and black tiles in a rational density, and it is the style and appearance essence of the old city Suzhou. The front door of each household faces street, the back door borders river and connects water by some steps. There are row upon row of folk houses that face each other along the banks , so it can be called as “a water lane of Suzhou” that “is parallel to water way and has the river and street connected”.

The present Shantang Street covers the scenic spots as follows:

  1. Shantang Old Street: in 360m long totally, though it is only one tenth long as Qili Shantang, it is the essence of Shantang. Shantang Old Street has re-appeared the prosperity of shops standing in great numbers and gathering guild halls of Shantang in those days. There are not only Suzhou time-honored brands including Caizhizhai, Huang Tianyuan, Wufangzhai, Lvyang Wonton Restaurant, but also the studio of Wang Jinshan, a leading authority of China tapestry, and shops of embroidery, rosewood wood carving, stone carving, jade carving and the master blue cloth with design in white,which have the shops standing in the front and the workshops at the back. Tonggui Bridge openings and the reflection in water that crosses Shantang River is completely in a round.

  1. Former Residence of Wu Yipeng: it is for the minister of official department in the Ming Dynasty in Nanjing, covers an area of over 5,000m2 with a floor area in over 6,000m2, and is the largest old building group outside of Suzhou urban area. Its front door faces the water lane of old street, has a full range of halls and pavilions, with the plaque as beam frame, bluestone drum pier studs as the foundation, and is spacious, bright and primitive. The door and tower brick carving of each row is exquisite beyond compare and has quite high grade. The back garden and the main building echo each other, and there are lotus pond, artificial hill and boat hall inside, so it is an example among famous residences in southern China.

The repaired Former Residence of Wu Yipeng building group is the one of four ways, five rows,and the east way building is Peach Blossom Castle Wood Carving New Year Picture Studio, which has not only displayed it was originated from Shantang, is the Peach Blossom Castle Wood Carving New Year Picture as a world cultural heritage application program, but also performed the whole complicated making process of such picture.

Sometimes, the history of a street is right the one of the city. In today’s Shantang Qili, people dance lightly and sing along, continuing to write the thousand-year prosperity of “China No. 1 Old Street”.

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