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Canals—A thousand years of lasting civilization

Ancient China was a time noted for two of the greatest projects in human history. First, there was the Great Wall, which spanned the country's northern territory; second was the Jinhang canal system, which formed the ancient economic link between the northern and southern areas, and which passed through China's five main water systems.

The “Jinghang Grand Canal” that we see today was built in 7 AD, and is one of the world’s longest, most labor-intensive, and time-consuming projects with an overall length of approximately 1,800 kilometers. The act of digging the canal itself had enormous historical significance, in terms of development. The project enhanced transport, culture, and trade between southern and northern China, as well as strengthening the economy of the south. By the 13th century, goods produced by the south - such as grain, silk, and porcelain - were also being transported by the canal to reach Beijing. The Emperor also used the canal himself, to visit the South. These days, the Chinese Government intends to submit an application in 2014 to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization for world culture heritage status.

The tall and enormous “Gongchen Bridge” is situated in northern Hangzhou. It's the final destination of the Great Canal, and after 400 years, this old stone arched bridge has witnessed the booming of water transport during both the Ming and Qing dynasties. Since the foundation of the city, the city's prosperity has been closely linked to the canal's activity. Today, a series of museums have been built near “Gongchen Bridge” such as “the Chinese Knife Cuts the Sword Museum,” “The Museum of Chinese Fan Manufacture,” and “The Museum of Chinese Umbrella Manufacture,” which illustrate aspects of the canal’s history. The rebuilt Hecaofang leads tourists to Xiaohezhi Street and Qiaoxizhi Street. They provide the most distinctive street scenes where canal residents used to live. By visiting these spots, you can truly experience the essence of life in the past.