Lying in Jiashan County in Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, Xitang is a typical water town in southern China with over a thousand years of history. 1000-meter covered corridor, 122 old-fashioned lanes, and 104 quaint bridges are what impress every visitor to Xitang.
The covered corridor is the most well known scene in Xitang and it is also the most distinctive feature this historic town offers compared with the other water towns. The corridor was originally built to make convenience for the residents trading on boats by the side of the rivers. In the past, famers and businessmen in water towns used the river as a street and boats as their vehicles. Much purchasing was done on the boats or banks. With the total length of more than 1,000 meters (about 1,100 yards), the corridor is tile-roofed with the function of protecting people from the rain and sun, just like the Long Corridor in the Summer Palace. Walking along the corridor, watching the boats in the river, you will feel drawn into the meditation of the past.
Except the covered corridor the lanes are another eye-catching area in Xitang Water Town. Among all the different lanes, the narrowest is about 80cm (about 31 inches) wide and provides space for only one person to pass through at a time.
Waterways are interwoven in Xitang, so it is not surprising that many bridges cross over the rivers. Here the creative shapes of bridges are very different from each other. The craftsmanship of these well-preserved bridges is so masterly that they are indeed a feast for your eyes.
In the old town of Xitang, you will see well-preserved groups of buildings of Ming and Qing Dynasties with relatively high artistic quality and research value. In those archaic houses, besides the culture and value of the houses themselves, there are also displays of cultural relics or woodcarvings or eaves tiles collected by the house owner. On the roofs of some old houses in Xitang Town, the grass is about one chi (about 13 inches) tall. It is said that the spirit of the former owner of the house joins with the grass, making it flourish and blessing the peace and permanence of the house as well as the prosperity of the entire town.
Life for Xitang locals is calm and easy, full of comfort and peace. You will see many elderly people strolling along the corridors and relaxing by the water. These people live simple lives, going about their daily routines, playing with their grandchildren, and chatting with each other. They are an integral part of the community and bear witness to the passing of the years.
By the way, if you are movie fans, some scenes of the action movie Mission Impossible III were shot in Xitang.