Xitang Ancient Water Town, about a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Shanghai, is a beautiful town that seems like a completely different world from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. Cobbled streets, old buildings, bridges arching over canals, rowing boats lingering on the river, locals singing folk songs—this is Xitang, a charming, ancient water town. Mornings in Xitang bring fresh air and light fog; during the evening, the setting sun casts a rosy glow on the old tiled roofs. Xitang truly is a world away.
Xitang is in Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province. Xitang is situated in relatively developed Shanghai Economic Region of our country and in the linking area of Jiangsu Province,Zhejiang Province and Shanghai.It is 90km from Shanghai in the east,110km from Hangzhou in the west,85km from Suzhou in the north and 9km from the seat of Jiashan County in the south.Xitang boasts advantageous geographical positions and convenient water and land traffic.It links 320 National Highway and Huhangyong Expressway in the south and connects 318 National Highway in the north and Hangshenjia Line runs through the whole Xitang. As early as the Spring and Autumn and Warring States Periods (770-221B.C.), it was a place of strategic importance on the boundary between Wu and Yue States, and it was thus known as the Bottom of Wu and the Corner of Yue. During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), it developed into a prosperous town, and during the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1911), it was known as an important town for commerce and handicrafts in South China. Today, Xitang is like an ancient piece of jade, glittering and translucent.
The area has a flat terrain, and the nine rivers that run through the town divide it into eight parts. Xitang is known for its bridges, lanes, and ceilinged corridors. There are 104 bridges of varied structure, all from the Ming and Qing Dynasties, some looking like rainbows over the river, and others like long flutes. Standing on one of these bridges and watching the boats through a round opening, one feels drawn into deep meditation on the past.
Many of the shops and houses in Xitang are built on the riversides. There are a total of 122 lanes, long and short, wide and narrow. The lanes are paved with stone planks, polished by the feet of pedestrians as well as hundreds of years of weathering. Together with the black-tiled houses along the roads, the polished stone planks bear witness to the town's long history.
Oar sound spreads far away. Historic Town Xitang south of the Changjiang River Opens your long-sealed memory. And exhibits the life space of ancestors. You may feel that kind, As if an alley where you once romped in childhood.......
BThe Covered Corridor ecause of the rainy climate, local residents have invented their own style of ceilinged corridor. Each family puts a ceiling over the stone-plank road in front of its own house, and the ceilings connect with one another to form corridors, the longest being 1,300 meters. Nowadays, the ceilinged corridors are the main places for outdoor activities and attract countless tourists.
The covered corridors of Xitang attract Chinese and foreign tourists for their graceful posture.Most of the streets in Xitang are covered with roofs,so merchants and passengers are not worried about rain and sunshine.Long chairs are arranged along the riverside of some covered corridors for people to have a rest.Most of covered corridors are made of bricks and wood and usually 2-2.5m wide.They are centralized in commercial areas,such as North Zha street,South Zha street and Zhao Nan Dai,with a total length of over 1000m.They can be used to seek shelter from rain or shade sunshine.One section is the most elegant,whose carved decorative patterns are hailed by tourists as the acme of perfection.
The Bridges Xitang Town is very unique among the old towns of the same rank nationwide-world-famous for a great number of bridges,lanes and covered corridors.Rivers crisscross in the whole town and bridges are densely distributed.Until 1998,there are 104 bridges in the whole town.During Song Dynasty,Xitang has 13 bridges,such as Anren Bridge,Anjing Bridge,Anshan Bridge,Liren Bridge,Wufu Bridge,yongning Bridge and Qingning Bridge.During Qing Dynasty,the following bridges were constructed-Anwolong Bridge,Duchan Bridge,Laifeng Bridge,etc. Most of these bridges are single-hole or three-hole stone pillar and wood beam bridges.Bridge beams have an exquisite craftsmanship.So far,they are well preserved and enjoy a highly admiring value-rated by Chinese and foreign tourists as"reclining dragon rises above water,rainbow soar in the sky".These bridges have a place in the history of Chinese stone hole bridges.
The Lanes Lanes are another featured landscape of Historic Town Xitang.Xitang lanes fully reflect the character of Xitang residents.Lanes are snaky and very quiet. When you reach the end of them,there is a scene of exceptional charm. There are old residences in the town along a long lane.Some have 3-5 doors and some have 6-7 doors.20-30 households pass in and out through this lane.
The Houses In Xitang,people are simple and unsophisticated,market is very prosperous and scene will change at every step.Old houses(Zhongfu Hall and Xue House),old temples(No.7Lord Temple,Sanctuary and West garden)and Gingko in Lu Tomb are very good sightseeing places,one of which has a story on everyone's lips.
Some old residences in Xitang, besides the architectural culture and cultural relic value of residences perse, historical cultural relics are displayed inside or bamboo carvings,woodcarvings, bricks,stones and eaves tiles collected by their owners are exhibited,or owners open the door to compare notes with the tourists from different places concerning music, chess, calligraphy and painting or exhibit collected ancient books and rare editions or rubbing from a stone inscription.Such folk culture exchange with a rich regional feature is a tourism form in Xitang full of interest.
Xitang is also attractive because of the easygoing lifestyle that local residents have followed for thousands of years. Unlike the towns of Zhouzhuang and Wuzhen, Xitang is not a bustling place (see China Pictorial November 2001 and February 2002). People in the town live ordinary, peaceful lives. The elderly play with their grandchildren on bridges and in lanes, and women wash vegetables and clothes in the rivers running beside their houses. The simple lifestyle and peaceful atmosphere may have died out in those now commercialized ancient towns, but they fill every lane in Xitang. For tourists from modern metropolises, Xitang is a place to experience a feeling of simplicity and leisure.
Ancient towns are quiet,while peaceful nights spent in the old Town of Xitang are unsurpassablly imposing. The setting sun veiled in darkness mystifies Xitang as a shy girls.Red lanterns are lit along the river then,turning the misty long corridor into a neon necklace,so passionate and approachable,so grand and elegant.
Riverside Folk Music"is one of the great traditions of the South Yangtze River arer.The music is pleasing to ears in a fresh style,soft and graceful.When listening to the melodies in an old yard in the West Garden of Xitang,you will touch another aspect of the country romance.
Every evening,the"Stage on Water"in the Xues'Villa stages traditional folk opera programs for the audience across the river customs are based upon the folk cultural activities,such as perform lion dance,Kylin sending son,God of Wealth presenting money ingots.
On festivals,"Lanterns on Water"is a reserved public activity.Thousands of lanterns,lit on the surface of the river,bring a colorful scene to tourists.Interplaying with those red lanterns alone the corridor,the lanterns on water are another charming view.
If you are tired walking in the town,you may rest your feet on a boat or in a small teashop along the street,drinking a cup of fragrant tea and enjoying the sweet night.
1. Boating Service: Boat rides on the canals are available if you are tired. It is 80 Yuan for a boat that can carry up to 12 people. If you are fortunate enough, the boatman will sing to you.
1. Local Food: Any of the riverside restaurants serve up local specialties like tiny fried fish called Pangpi Yu (you can eat them whole), pickled vegetables, stir fried pumpkin, and pork with sweet vegetables (meigan cai kou rou). For a snack, try the Qian Shi Gao, a thinly sliced perfumed cake that is part dessert, part Chinese medicine.
1. Evening tours are allowed from 18:00 to 21:00 every evening between May and October every year. 2. The West Garden,Zhang-Zheng Natural Arts (root carving), and the Button Museum are open to the public as usual during the evening tour season. Various programs and exhibitions are on in Xitang.Each evening tour package ticket is RMB 30, and with it you pay only RMB 10 for the boat, instead, you will be charged RMB 30 for the boat. 3. Boats set off when full. Scheduled shifts:18:00,18:30,19:00,19:30,20:00,21:00.
An advisor from the UNESCO World Heritage Center spoke highly of Xitang after coming here. "Xitang is like the limpid and melodious music of a flute," he said. "People need to appreciate it with their heart."
Travel Route: Morning: Maidenhair Trees at Lu You's Mausoleum-Ni's Residence-Wufu Bridge-Holy Hall-Jiangnan Woodcarving Exhibition Hall-Anjing Bridge
Afternoon: Beizha Street-Wan'an Bridge-Shizi Bridge-Exhibition Hall for Yellow Wine-Wolong Bridge-Yanyu Long Corridor-Son-and-Daughter-Welcoming Bridge, Huanxiu Bridge-Shipi Lane-Zhongfu Hall-Xiyuan Garden-Xue's Residence-Zhang Zheng's Root Carving Gallery
Travel Tips: To go to Xitang, first take a train or bus from Shanghai or Hangzhou to Jiashan. In Jiashan, there is a bus leaving every five minutes for Xitang, a distance of about ten kilometers.
You'd better stay at least one day and night in Xitang so that you can enjoy the town's beauty at dawn, dusk, and night.
Xitang is famous for its varied snacks, including Xitang glutinous rice dumplings, meat steamed with rice flour and lotus leaves, Jiashan wine, Red-June River crabs, and Eight-Immortal cakes.
CNY 100 (tickets include both the scenic region and 11 sightseeing spots); CNY 50 (tickets for the scenic region only)