Located in the suburb of Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is an ancient water town with a history of more than 1700 years. It’s only about 50 kilometers away from the city centre, but traveling to Zhujiajiao is like going back hundreds of years. Zhujiajiao Ancient Town, also known as “the Venice of Shanghai”, features beautiful waterways, arched stone bridges, ancient streets paved with stones, and more than 10,000 houses dating back to Ming and Qing dynasties.
It is said that to visit Zhujiajaio without seeing the bridges means that you have not really been to Zhujiajiao. Constructed during Ming and Qing Dynasties, bridges here are distinctive and old. The town is thoroughly connected by 36 delicate spans in different shapes and styles, from wooden to stone to marble.
Fangsheng Bridge (Setting-Fish-Free Bridge), a five-arched stone bridge built in 1571, is the longest, largest and tallest stone bridge in Zhujiajiao, where you can experience a tradition of purchasing live fish from street vendors and then releasing them into the water for good luck. On the bridge stands a stone tablet named Dragon Gate Stone, which is engraved with 8 coiling dragons encircling a shining pearl. On top of the bridge are 4 lifelike stone lions.
Lang Bridge (Veranda Bridge), also named Huimin Bridge, is the only wooden bridge in this town. It has wooden bars on the two sides and upturned eaves above, just like a narrow corridor.
Zhujiajiao is also famous for its splendid gardens as well as ancient dwellings built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among these ancient buildings, Kezhi Garden is renowned as the largest manorial garden in the town. Characterized by its attractive sceneries, peaceful and secluded surroundings, it is mainly composed of a hall area, an artificial hill area and a garden area. While strolling in the picturesque garden of this mansion, you can enjoy a presentation of Suzhou Pingtan, a traditional genre of artistic show, with a pair of performers singing in Suzhou dialect and playing ancient Chinese string instruments.
Zhujiajiao accumulated its fortune from clothing and rice business. Nowadays, you still have the chance to see the rice shops and banks of the old time in the town. And even a post office of Qing dynasty is well-preserved till today and open to the tourist. Letters written on bamboo and other wood, early stamps and envelopes will leave people amazed at how fast the postal and information processes have developed.
It’s also another enjoyment to stroll on North Street which is highly reputed for its traditional architectures in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, with whitewashed walls, black tiles, high gables with tilting eaves, long windows with fine latticework, and wooden gates in crimson paint. On the street there are many restaurants, the charming Old Town Teahouse, and an assortment of old business in local specialties, arts anc crafts, paingitns, calligraphy, pottery, and chinaware, etc.
Small boats are ubiquitous here as the boats serve as important transportation methods for local people. It would be a nice way to get a view of the town and experience the local life by boat.