If you have ever watched the Chinese film “Lust, Caution” staring by Tony Leung and Tang Wei, you must remember the beautiful Chinese ancient town scenes shot near Shanghai. That is Xinchang Ancient Watertown.
The town is in Naihui district of Shanghai, between the heart of the city and the airport. It is 36 kilometers from the People’s Square and 25 kilometers from the PudongInternationalAirport.
Known as the last ancient watertown around Shanghai, Xinchang attracts people by its original life style and architecture. More than 55 percent of the architecture from the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties and the era of the Republic of China (1912-1949) have been preserved, making Xinchang the only comparatively complete historical town in Pudong, Shanghai.
Rivers run through the town, and there are finely carved stone-arch bridges and houses built near streams, as well as a highly-built stone revetment, saddle-shaped water bridge and monumental “stalagmite lane” archway built back in 1986. These unique characters clearly display the style and features of the ancient town, which is most famous for its “13 monumental archways and nine stone bridges”. Xinchang town is noted for being “small, but as beautiful as Suzhou city.”
You will have a lot to see in the town: the small temples with big Buddha statues, the ancient musical instrument museum, the oil-painting studio and the ordinary residents’ house.
More than 20 of the town’s mansions have been maintained, among them the Zhang residence being the most valuable. Floor mosaics from Holland, European-style door columns, along with traditional wooden window carvings provide evidence of its former master’s wealth and unique taste. Now the mansion is shared by several local families and they still hold dancing parties in the Dutch mosaic hall. Many residential houses have gardens and streams at the back of the houses which were used for transport at that time. Advanced architecture skills during the period have kept the buildings in good condition.
When wandering around the town, you can experience the small alleys, tea houses and beautiful smiles of the local people.
Xinchang Dajie is lined with two storey brick and timber buildings. Most of the buildings’ walls are plastered and whitewashed – but the plaster, in places, has worn away, revealing grey-blue and Ming Dynasty bricks. Shops and restaurants are on the building’s bottom floors; proprietors live on the floors above.
The tea house of the town has been operating for more than 100 years. It’s the town’s only three-storied building which is located under a small stone bridge. Most senior citizens have fond memories of the place and often relax within its doors with a cup of tea, whiling away an afternoon with other people of their generation.