Anchang is an ancient town 12 kilometers west of the city of Shaoxing in Zhejiang province. It is elegant with classical simplicity, featuring the characteristic waterside architecture of South China. If you are looking for a less-crowded historical village to explore, this is the place.
Anchang was built in North Song Dynasty. Being destroyed in war, the existing town was rebuilt in Ming or Qing Dynasty. Upon entering the town, you will see women washing clothes beside the river, ducks swimming and dogs sleeping on the doorsteps of stores – none bothered by the presence of strangers. The centuries-old way of life and ancient charm have remained unchanged.
In the town, you will see an age-old street which has a history of more than hundreds of years. The total length of the street is 1747 m. It is well-protected and lined with traditional folk houses and stores. The street links to deep alleys extending in all directions. Walking on one of them, you may have the feeling that you were in ancient China, for on both sides of the alley stand age-old traditional houses. There are also many tourist attractions in the town such as Anchang Folk-custom House and The Memorial Hall of Aides and Staff.
The typical residential buildings in Shaoxing County are called taimen. They feature black tiles, white walls, stone doorsteps, stone-carved windows, several courtyards and dozens of rooms. Big families usually shared these centuries-old buildings.
Besides, the small bridges in this town are quite special. As water was the most convenient form of transportation in ancient China, the town, like the other ancient towns along the Yangtze River, gradually expanded with 17 stone bridges. Some of them are arched. And some of them have pavilions.
After admiring the old buildings and bridges, a roadside teahouse is the perfect place to rest, snack and even nap. At the teahouse where I stopped, the waiter said the house had a history of more than 300 years and even the chair where I sat was 80 years old.
Taking a wupeng boat to tour around the ancient town is a must. Wupeng boat is an old-style black-roof boat and the boatman usually wears a black felt hat, both of them are distinctive features in the Shaoxing area. To board a boat like that will bring you back to a quieter, simpler time.
In Anchang ancient town, you even have the chance to appreciate the traditional over-water wedding. And its specialties, such as Sausage and Pulled White Sugar, are popular among the public.