Jinxi, a typical water town with a history of over 2,000 years, is located southwest of Kunshan city in Jiangsu Province, only 8 km from the famous water town of Zhouzhuang and about 70km from Shanghai.
Jinxi is connected by five lakes via the network of waterways running across the small town. “Boat is needed for the trip between two places even several meters away”- this is the best description of Jinxi. Water lanes, river piers, arch bridges, corridors and streets fully present the features of this water town. Jinxi is a place which awakens long-forgotten memories of how life was lived in the water towns on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. Compared with the other ancient towns in China, Jinxi is simpler, less sophisticated, and quiet.
The town is named after the Jinxi River which zig-zags through the town from north to south. At one time in its long history, Jinxi had another name called The tomb of the concubine Chen. It is said during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Lady Chen, one of Emperor Xiaozong’s (1127-1194) favorite concubines, loved Jinxi’s water scene so much that she was buried there after her death. A Buddhist Temple known as the Lotus Pond was built in Chen’s memory. The temple today is a major attraction to visitors to the town.
Wenchang Pavilion is another highlight of the Town. The three-storey building provides excellent views of the tomb complex and its surroundings.
Walking through the covered corridors along the Jinxi River, you will find bridges built in various styles. The old town is small, covering an area of less than 1 square kilometer. However, it has 36 stone bridges, the highest “density” of bridges in the water towns of the south, which make this place “the town of bridges”. Most of these bridges were built in the Ming and Qing Dynasties and they remain well-preserved. The steles, columns, piers, and carvings on the bridges are still visible.
Jinxi water town has many bridges. The bridge crossing Wubao Lake is regarded as the town’s most famous one.
Brick kilns are another feature of Jinxi Town. It is also called the “town of folk museums in China”. The first and only “China Ancient Tile and Brick Museum” is located there. There are also many other museums such as Red Porcelain Museum, Zhangsheng Art Gallery, Root Carving Museum and Wonder Stone Museum, etc. Interestingly the people of Jinxi have a habit of collecting things. There are over ten personal collection museums of different kinds in this little town, such as a Pottery and Porcelain Museum, Antique Museum and Old Coins Museum.