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Zhouzhuang: scenery integrated with the flavor of tea

By Zhong Qiankun(chinadaily.com.cn)

An interesting saying about Zhouzhuang goes: in heaven, there is paradise; on earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou, and Zhouzhuang is in the middle of paradise and earth. Zhouzhuang has neither famous mountains and great rivers nor exotic flowers and rare herbs, but the original and antique scene from the Ming and Qing Dynasty won the name of “National Treasure” and World Culture Heritage for Zhouzhuang. One can feels like they have been transported back hundreds of years when the step on the bridge of Zhouzhuang.

Zhouzhuang is a beautiful town because the culture of it can never be replaced. But how long will the beauty of Zhouzhuang last as new technology and culture rapidly develops and changes?

The village surrounded by water Zhouzhuang is like a delicate lotus decorated by Chenghu Lake, Baijian Lake, Dianshan Hu and Nanhu Lake. The lakes and rivers form the outline of the town, so its culture is based on water. When talking about watery religion south of Yangze River, you can imagine the small bridges, the flowing water and the beautiful girl rowing a boat.

Bridges in Zhouzhuang The old bridges give Zhouzhuang a classic atmosphere. There are 14 stone beam bridges and stone arch bridges built during different dynasties including Yuan, Ming and Qing in the old town. The bridges cross the rivers look like rainbows and connect the families on the bank of the river. Therefore, bridges are the most important part of the old town and the life of people in the town.

Gui’an Bridge, which is well known for its double-bridge structure and mingling of bridge-pavilion style, is the most representative bridge in Zhouzhuang. Gui'an Bridge is a special mixture of building and bridge. The body of the bridge is built from granite and the railings and stairs are built from Wukang stone. There are also lucky patterns carved on the road and pavilions with upturned eaves built around the body. The bridges and pavilions combine harmoniously to make it the emblem of the old Zhouzhuang.

Families in Zhouzhuang The residents of Zhouzhuang lived in harmony in the old town. The life of the families on the bank was tightly connected by water: Every morning when they opened the window, they saw the scenery of the rivers and lakes; every day they could just open the window to buy seasonal delicacies from the boat on the river. Everywhere is still immersed in the old time: the rowing girl is always singing an old song and the music from Grandma Tea House is in an old rhyme. A cup of tea reminds people of the old and continuous legend of Zhouzhuang.