There are many famous ancient towns in Shanghai’s suburbs, offering picturesque waterside sceneries, characteristic architectural styles, abundant historical sites and colorful folk customs. These towns feature a lovely sight of “quaint bridges, burbling streams and waterside households”, which will usher you into the traditional realms of China.
Zhujiajiao Ancient Town
In the north of the foot of the splendid Nine Hills and at the side of the beautiful Dianshan Lake, there lies Zhujiajiao, a southern Yangtze-styled town well known as “Venice in Shanghai”. There are many creeks in this small town, by which are nine long streets. Around a thousand buildings of Ming and Qing Dynasty styles by the creeks and 36 ancient stone bridges, which can be found everywhere, contribute to the places of historical interest of Zhujiajiao.
Fengjing Ancient Town
Fengjing Ancient Town, located in the northwest of Jinshan District, has a history of more than 1,500 years. Its name literally means “maple stream”. As a representative town at the southern lower reaches of the Yangtze River, it has an abundance of bridges, temples, lanes and famous historical figures. There is a saying about the town: “Within three steps, you will cross two bridges; looking afar, you can see ten streams”. While taking a tour in Fengjing, you can admire the local people playing the traditional stringed and reed-pipe music, and creating the famous Jinshan Farmers’ Paintings. Fengjing boasts a wide variety of folk arts, such as blue-dyed clothes, furniture carving, colorful lanterns, paper-cutting, embroidery and fabric weaving.
Qibao Ancient Town
Qibao, located in the hub of Minhang District, Shanghai, is a town with a history of over 1,000 years. Its name means “seven treasures” in Chinese. The town has a juncture of two main streams through a network of interconnected bridges as well as checkerboard of streets and lanes amidst a collection of characteristic specialty shops, snack restaurants and teahouses. On the banks, there are pavilions and willows, and on the streams, there are local hand rowing boats coming to and fro. In the center of the town is a main street featuring the characteristic architectures in the Ming and Qing dynasties.
Xinchang Ancient Town
Xinchang is a millennium-old water town in Pudong District, Shanghai. It was born in the Qin Dyansty (221 B.C. – 206 B.C.), and further expanded in the Ming and Qing dynasties. Today, more than 55 percent of the architectures from 1368 to 1949 are preserved here, making Xinchang the only comparatively well-preserved historical town in Pudong District. Here you can see rivers interweaving through the town, finely carved stone-arch bridges and houses built near the streams, the high-raising stone revetment, saddle-shaped water bridges along the bank and the monumental “Shisunli” (stalagmite lane) archway built up in 1986.
Nanxiang Ancient Town
As a historical town of China, Nanxiang is abundant in resources and home to many outstanding talents in China’s history. Because of this, it was praised as “a small town just like Suzhou in many aspects”. Nanxiang has many traditional residential and commercial districts. The town gives off a unique charm with all these pebble paved roads, overhanging eaves, black tiles and white walls, tall gates and small windows, scattering bridges, streams and gardens dotting the landscape.
Jiading Ancient Town
Jiading in northwest Shanghai boasts a celebrated tradition in cultural excellence, and its classical gardens provide fantastic sights in elegant landscapes. In the old town of Jiading, there are a wide range of ancient relics, such as the Confucius Temple (possibly the best in southeast China), the stone bridges dating back to the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368), the Qiuxiapu Garden built in the Ming Dynasty (1369-1644) and the Guyiyuan Garden, the largest of the five classical gardens in Shanghai. A trip to Jiading guarantees a wonderful tour experience in great sceneries and rich cultural legacies.
Songjiang Sijing Ancient Town
Songjiang District is located on the upper stream of the Huangpu River in southwest Shanghai. The market of Songjiang has begun along the river since ancient times, and developed into what was called the “10-li Long Street” in the Yuan Dynasty. Today, you can still experience the original Shanghai customs and atmosphere of 3,200 years ago in this ancient town. Here, you can see antiquatedly roofed houses with white walls and black tiles line up closely along the narrow street of two meters wide. Quiet courtyards scatter among the residences. On entering the secluded deep yards, you will see the typical antique gardens south of the Yangtze River.
Jinze Ancient Town
Jinze is located in west Qingpu District, Shanghai, near the Dianshan Lake, right to the southwest of Zhujiajiao. Jinze has often been praised as “the town of ancient bridges” because it boasts a total of 42 well-preserved old bridges, mostly built in the Song and Yuan dynasties, which demonstrate engineering expertise and great artistic value. Meanwhile, there is “no temple without a bridge” or “no bridge without a temple”. The Upper Dyke Street and the Lower Dyke Street feature the characteristic architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties, where old businesses like teahouses, restaurants, incense shops, preserved food shops have remained along with residential houses and temples.
Luodian Ancient Town
Luodian, dating back to the Yuan Dynasty, has a time-honored history of over 600 years. It is located west to Jiading, north to the Liu River, south to Dachang and east to the Wusong River. Due to its favorable geographic location, it has a well-developed transport and economy which earn it the name of “Jin Luodian” (Golden Luodian). Luodian boasts many stone arch bridges with a history of several hundred years, such as the Datong Bridge, the Fengde Bridge and the Lailong Bridge. It is also home to the well preserved Fanwang Temple and Buchang Street, dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties respectively.