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Economic Geography

Zhouzhuang, an Ancient Town

Zhouzhuang Town, once called Zhenfengli, is located in Kunshan City, 30 km to the south-east of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province covering an area of 0.4 sq.km. Apart from Kunshan, it is also closely linked with Qingpu, Wujiang and Wuxian County.

Zhouzhuang is well known for its beautiful environment and simple architecture. Although more than 900 years have past, its architectural style is still well preserved. More than 60 percent of the residential houses were built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, consisting of nearly 100 classic courtyards and 60 carved brick archways.

Like a lotus on the water, the town is surrounded and bisected by rivers including Nanbeichi, Houxiang, Youche yang and Zhongshi. There are many bridges as well, including Fu`an, Zhenfeng, Fuhong, Tongxiu, Puqing, Xianyuan, Tiyun, Bao`en, Longxing, Yong`an Shide, Quangong, Qingling, Xianhong and Jubao, the most famous being Yong`an and Shide, known as Double Bridge, one a stone arch type and the other a stone beam type bridge. Two rivers crisscross in north south and east - west directions here, and the square and round openings of the bridges provide a unique frame for the water scenery.

Sitting on the boat, one may enjoying the scene between bridges and feel the interest of a water township which offers a quiet and simple life. When night falls, all streets are empty. Down the narrow lanes one catches a glimpse of dim lights. Walking by the waterside, along the road or over a bridge, the peace of the calm water and clear sky, perhaps punctuated occasionally by the distant sound of laughter, creates a harmonious and sweet environment.

The town has many cultural relics, including the houses of Shen and Zhang, the Milou Tower, Ye Chucang`s Former Residence, Chengxu Taoist Temple and Quanfu Temple.

Many ancient and modern scholars have lived in or visited the town, such as ancient Zhang Han, a literati of the Western Jin Dynasty (265-317), Liu Yuxi and Lu Guimeng, two poets of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), as well as modern Sanmao, a noted woman writer from Taiwan, and artist Chen Yifei. Chen`s painting, "The Double Chen`s painting," The Double Bridge "is as famous as the real double bridge in the town. A well - known Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong once praised the town as a collection of beauty of China`s water townships. Luo Zhewen, a notable architect, described Zhouzhuang as "a treasure of China".