Nanxun Water Town, located in the north of Zhejiang Province and to the southwest of Shanghai, is about 120 kilometers from Shanghai or Hangzhou, and just 51 kilometers distance from Suzhou. What stands out in Nanxun is that people of the town still live in their centuries-old houses. It is nice to wander around and watch the people go about their daily lives, see locals washing their clothes in the canals. It seems modern lifestyle touch little in this ancient town. That’s just amazing.
Besides scenic view of rivers, bridges and ancient residences, Nanxun Water Town has more legendary history than the other water towns and is more famous for its elegant and exquisite gardens.
Chinese people have the tradition of building gardens as their house courtyards if they are wealthy enough. Nanxun, with a history of over 700 years, is a once-prosperous commercial town and silk manufacturing centre in the modern history. After making great fortune from silk business, Nanxun people also built many gardens . In a small town like Nanxun, there were ever 27 gardens and 5 still existed nowadays. Most of these gardens are a combination of Chinese and Western styles. The most well-known gardens among them are the Small Lotus Garden and the Jiaye Book-Collecting Hall.
The Small Lotus Garden, used to be the private garden and the family temple, covers a land area of 17,399 square meters and is divided into two parts, inner yard and outer yard. The center of the inner yard is a group of rockeries which were made from the stones of Taihu Lake. The lotus pond which is 5267 square kilometers is the theme of the outer yard.
The Jiaye Book-Collecting Hall is the largest private book collection house in modern China, storing tens of thousands of antique wooden/carved publications, books or manuscripts during its heyday. The house itself is actually a mini-sized garden with lotus pond, rockery and pavilion, illustrating the delicacy and beauty of gardens in the southern Yangtze River area. Nowadays, it is not only a scenic spot, but also a public library.
The town also boasts some historic structures. The 400-year-old Baijian Lou, literally the pavilion of 100 apartments, is the one that is well worth a visit. Stretching 400 meters, it’s actually made up of several connected buildings winding along both sides of the canal. Walking along Baijian Lou, you are always under the eaves of a veranda. There are several tea houses here and it’s a nice place to stop for a pot of tea and take in the river scenes.