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Wuzhen Ancient Town Overflows with History 2019-05-20
As you travel through Southern China, you may come across many ancient towns and sites. Wuzhen Ancient Town, located in the northern part of Zhejiang province, west of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, is not a typical one; with distinctive features and a history of over 6000 years, it is listed as AAAAA scenic area. In China, a rating system that applies a range of A to AAAAA is used to evaluate the quality and popularity of scenic areas, with AAAAA indicating the best.

Wuzhen Ancient Town is located in close proximity to prominent cities in the region – Jiaxing City, 27 kilometers away, Huzhou City, 45 kilometers away, Wujiang City, 60 kilometers away, Hangzhou and Suzhou, both 80 kilometers away, and Shanghai, 140 kilometers away. The subtropical climate contributes to the incidence of varied seasonal sceneries in the town, with warm and humid weather prevailing most of the time. Crisscrossed by multiple rivers, Wuzhen’s ambiance is strongly influenced by water. Wuzhen has always been a fertile and prosperous area with an abundance of rice, fish and silk. The township area of Wuzhen is 71.19 sq km, and the urban area is 2.5 sq km. According to archaeological findings, humans have inhabited the area since about seven thousand years ago, which coincides with the Majiabang culture period in the Neolithic Age.

Wuzhen was once called Wu Dun, and situated on the border between the Wu and Yue kingdoms in the Spring and Autumn Period (256 – 206 BC). A long time ago, Wuzhen consisted of two small towns – Wuzhen Town and Qing Town. Wuzhen Town, situated west of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, was considered part of Huzhou City, while Qing Town was in the east and was associated with Jiaxing City. In May 1950, the two small towns were merged into one and were then renamed Wuzhen, annexed into Tongxiang County, Jiaxing City.

Many famous and talented people were born in Wuzhen, such as Prince Liang Zhaoming, who had a collection of excellent masterpieces, the great editor Mao Kun, famous mathematician Zhang Yangyuan, and the great contemporary writer Mao Dun.

Wuzhen still retains many distinctive river ports, bridges, stores alongside rivers and lakes. The town is divided into 4 parts, Dongzha, Nanzha, Xizha, and Beizha by local people, and Dongzha and Xizha are the two most favored by tourists. Dongzha has maintained the basic original layout that is in the style of ancient Chinese towns. The black bricks and white walls and people living alongside rivers give it the typical appearance of a traditional Chinese ink drawing. Wandering along the river or strolling in the lanes, one is deeply impressed by the picturesque scenery and pace of life in Wuzhen.

On the other hand, Xizha comprises of twelve islets which are connected by 60 bridges, and the number of rivers and bridges here is the highest among all Chinese ancient towns. Besides indulging in products of time-honored craftsmanship and partaking in folk customs, tourists can also dig through goodies at its water fair where the river is packed with ships.
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