Suzhou Old Town Tongli, China

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Old Town of Tongli

Old Town Tongli is located 29 kilo miles south of Suzhou, a city of Jiangsu Province.

It has an ancient name "Fu Shan" ("Rich Hill"), and is famous for constructions above water built in Ming and Ch'ing Dynasty (1386~1911A.D.).

The area of the town is only 0.67 square kilo miles, how could it be so famous? It's because the lakes and the rivers surrounded this little town.

There are many lakes around the town like Jiuli, Tongli, Nanxing, Pangshan, and Yeze. Rivers like Guanjiang, Songjiang, and Dongjiang are flowing across the town. Fifteen flow ways are like net in the town and divide the town into seven sections.

During the Tang and Song Dynasty, many literature scholars came to the town, some were praising the beautiful views of the town, some were writing poems which described the graceful landscapes of South China. There are famous poem sentences like:

"The town is a world of water and the views are like painting";
the roads of the town are made up of water,
the rivers of the town are made up of water,
and the gardens of the town are also made up of water".

If you are traveling around Tongli, you will see all the views that were described in the poems. There are fifteen rivers in the town and they are the roads of the town. Going into the houses of the town, you will find rivers in front and back of them. The whole town is a construction built above water.

There are bridges if there are rivers. Tongli has more 20 bridges, which connected all the constructions. Each of them was different in styles and built in different years. Some were built in Tang Dynasty, some were in Song Dynasty, some were in Yuan Dynasty, some were in Ming Dynasty and some were in Ch'ing Dynasty (618~1911A.D.). All of them are elegant and beautiful.

Besides the bridges, there are teahouses and shops, which sales all kinds of local products. For hundreds of years, there are hundreds of families living in this town that make the ancient water town much more like a Chinese painting gallery.

Tongli has been famous for rivers, bridges, and well-know people, since a long time ago. In town, you can see many giant houses built in Ming and Ch'ing Dynasty. Most of their owners were court officials or famous scholars and artists. More than 40 percent of the constructions were built in Ming and Ch'ing Dynasty.

Some of them are quite famous: the Two Halls, the Three Bridges, the Tuisi Garden, the Former Residence of Ji Cheng, the Gengle Hall, the Shiyu Ancient Republic and the Huancui Villa. There are many beautiful relics that it is hard to describe each of them.