Suqian, located in the north wing of the Yangtze River Delta and the northern part of Jiangsu province, is the hometown of Xiang Yu, the Hegemon-King of Western Chu. It has been well known as a “City with Ancient Culture” for its more than 5,000 years of civilized history and over 2,700 years of city-building history. Here, visitors can experience the profound cultural atmosphere, appreciate the charming scenery with distinctive water town features, and indulge themselves in dazzling lights of the bustling city at night.

The Grand Canal, the Flowing Culture of Suqian

The history of the Canal in Suqian can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn Period. The ancient Grand Canal, which wound across borders, is 112 kilometers long. The Bianhe River, the old course of the Yellow River and Zhong Canal in the territory were successively used to be important major waterways for water transportation of grain from Sui to Yuan, Yuan to Qing, and after Qing dynasties. They have witnessed the prosperity and decline of the navigation years and have left a long history of humanities. Culture of water, wine, emperors, food, and other fields, which flourished by the river, are connected to form a splendid cultural corridor in Suqian.

The ancient building complexes such as Qianlong Imperial Dock, Dawang Temple, and Xiangyu’s Hometown built along the river are witnesses of the past prosperity and vicissitudes. Zaohe, Yanghua, and Zhenglou have been recognized by the World Historic and Cultural Canal Cities Cooperation Organization (WCCO) as historical and cultural ancient towns. The Longwang (Dragon King) Temple Palace in Zaohe and the Zhong Canal section of the Dawang Temple in the urban area have been included in the World Cultural Heritage List.

Riding a cruise on the ancient Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, you can enjoy the picturesque scenery on both sides of the river. While looking back at the ancient bridge, listening to the sound of the oaring under the shadow of lights, you will find that the long history and the modern urban landscape subtly merge into a magnificent picture of this city.

Longwang (Dragon King) Temple Palace/For the Peace of the Grand Canal

Dragon King Temple Palace was built in the period of Emperor Shunzhi (1638-1661) of the Qing Dynasty. It was a worship building constructed for the emperors of the Qing Dynasty to pray for the Dragon King (the God of Rain in Chinese mythology) to “calm waves and eliminate floods”. As the “first temple beside the canal in a thousand miles”, the imposing Dragon King Temple Palace has been lying on the banks of the ancient canal for more than 300 years, demonstrating the ups and downs of the canal.

There are three courtyards in the Temple Palace. Stepping into the palace, what you see is a glazed tile pavilion supported by twelve vermilion gigantic pillars, with a five-meter-high imperial monument standing in the center full of emperor Qianlong’s imperial decree and poems smooth in writing. The text is surrounded by curled and lying fairy dragons, vigorous and majestic, with great artistic value. From south to north, the entire palace is decorated with red walls, dark tiles, carved beams and painted buildings in the Ancient Theatre Stage, Heqing and Haiyan memorial archways, Imperial Monument Pavilion, Bell and Drum Tower, Dragon King Hall, east and west side halls, the Palace of Yu the Great, east and west imperial gardens and so on. The vivid statues of the four heavenly guardians of Yang, Liu, Du and Meng, which are considered as symbols of good weather, the Dragon King of the East China Sea, and the eight water gods on the left and right in the temple are lifelike and offer a dignified and majestic atmosphere. These halls and statues embodied the beautiful wishes of the ancient people in Suqian for the peace of the canal and have become important heritages of the Ancient Canal Culture.

Hometown of Xiangyu/ Memory of the Great Hero

Suqian is also related to the Hegemon-King of Western Chu, Xiang Yu, a military strategist who had astonished Chinese history. With outstanding heroic qualities, he overthrew the rotten Qin Empire and made eternal achievements but ended up in a tragedy politically that moves people to song and tears. The later generations built Xiangyu’s Home along the canal in memory of the great hero to sooth the deceased.When you enter the hometown of King Xiang, the opening ceremony leads you step into a journey of time through a thousand years. Gorgeous costume in Western Chu, and brilliant and incredibly graceful beauties of the Western Chu State danced in Chu-style clothing, dressed in silk woven garments with patterns of Chinese dragons, phoenixes, and vivid birds and beasts, provide a romantic, elegant, and lively atmosphere. The most eye-catching item is the old locust tree in the courtyard, which is said to be planted by King Xiang himself. Although it has gone through two thousand years of wind and rain, it is still lush and luxuriant. Performance of Hongmen Yan (Feast at Swan Goose Gate) shows lively scenes of a banquet, dance and music but conceals murderous intent. It is exciting to explore the family, dynasty, and life of this history-shocking hero, and enter the war-torn world.Suqian is such an ideal place to experience the water-town lifestyle and its cultural appeal. The flowing culture in the Canal always reminds people that the charming ancient culture and beautiful moments are waiting there, for you to explore.

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