Have you found Shantang Street yet? This charming little street is exotic adventure travel, somewhat hidden from the view of passers by is a well-preserved ancient street near the downtown, where we can get a sense of the glory and prosperity of Suzhou in ancient times, when it was the most important city in southern China. This street is the epitome of Suzhou, a picture postcard of the ‘real China of long ago’ where the dark wooden roofs cap the white walls, displaying the ancient architecture still so well preserved throughout Suzhou’s downtown area.
There are various estimates as to the age of this ancient street, but the general consensus is between 1100 and 1500 years old. The young men came here to find their friends and write poems by the river while merchants in the boats displayed lanterns and merchandise to greet passers-by.
Historical records tell us that in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) emperors fell in love with Shantang Street at first glance. Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795), whose ancestors were from nomadic tribes, was haunted by the beauty of the Shantang Street and ordered a replica built in Yuanmingyuan in Beijing (now called The Summer Palace) to celebrate his mother’s 70th birthday. The Dowager Empress Ci Xi (1835-1908) rebuilt this replica after it was destroyed in 1860, naming it Suzhou Street.
The Tang Dynasty poet Bai Juyi (722-846), who built the street and the canal to improve water transportation, could never have imagined the wonder he left behind along with his great poems.
To improve water transportation links, Bai, who was an official in Suzhou at that time, ordered that a canal be dug, and a 3.5-kilometre-long waterway stretching west from Duseng Bridge at the Changmen City Gate to Wangshan Bridge in the Tiger Hill area was created. It was …