Situated on the bank of the Dianshanhu Lake on the western outskirts of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao, a canal town (an enchanting place that is often compared to Venice, Italy), is about 50 kilometers away from the city centre. The town features beautiful waterways, arched stone bridges, ancient streets paved with stone, and more than 10,000 houses dating back to Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
Visitors can take a walk to explore the town what it looks like or board canvas-canopied boats for the canal-side Granny Tea house for a short tea break. It is the most famous teahouse in the community. The five-arch Fangsheng Bridge built in 1571 in the Ming Dynasty is still standing there. Inscriptions on the weather-beaten steles by the side of the river tell people to do good things and accumulate merits for the after lift. There are altogether 36 bridges in the town and each has a name and possibly a story, which will speak itself when the tourist sits on the bridge, staring at the mosses growing out of the gaps in the stones or the river on which boats pass by.
After visits of participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings held in Shanghai in 2001, the town became more famous and frequented. Zhujiajiao was developed into a town in the Ming Dynasty and in its prime time in 1930s, there were over 70 rice stores here and its rice was transported to many parts of the country. Daqing Youju, a post office in the Qing Dynasty, was set up in 1862 and is a proof of the past importance of this small town. Letters written on bamboo and other wood, and early stamps and envelopes will leave people amazed at how fast the postal and information processes have developed. Yuanjin Chanyuan, a temple constructed in 1341, is also worth a visit. Chenghuangmiao (City-God Temple) is a temple where Guanyin (Goddess of Mercy) is still worshipped and is popular for its Taoist faith. Like many other waterside towns in this region, Zhujiajiao has several private gardens, which used to be owned by officials or landlords but have now opened to the public. Another attraction is Kezhi Garden on Great North Street. It is one of the largest manor-style private gardens in the vast southern China region. While strolling in the picturesque garden of this mansion, visitors can enjoy a presentation of Suzhou Pingtan, a traditional genre of artistic show, with a pair of performers singing in Suzhou dialect and playing ancient Chinese string instruments. Visitors will be definitely fascinated by this ancient town while marveling at the same time at Shanghai's modern life.
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