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Gongchen Bridge or Gongchenqiao(拱宸桥) is the landmark of Gongchenqiao Historic Zone. It is located in the north part of Gongshu District, downtown Hangzhou. It crosses The Grand Canal, and connects with Xiaohe Road, Lishui Road and Taizhou Road, and finally shapes a large historic zone together with related historic sites and museum on both sides of the Grand Canal. In ancient times, Chen (宸) was a site where Emperor lived, and Gong (拱) was a rite of putting the hands together before the face to show a respect or worship. When emperors southwardly visited, this high bridge seemly showed the welcome to the arrival of Emperors.
The History of Gongchen Bridge
Gongchen Bridge is the highest and longest stone arch bridge in Hangzhou. Originally built in the fourth reign year of Emperor Chongzhen in Ming Dynasty(1368 -1644) under the financial assistance of Zhu Huafeng (祝华封, a local celebrity), Xia Mujiang(夏木江, a businessman) and the public donation. In the eighth reign year of Emperor Shunzhi of Qing Dynasty(1651), the bridge fell down, and in the 53rd reign year of Emperor Kangxi(1714), with a financial aid of Duan Zhixi(段志熙, a local governor), Monk Huilu(慧辂) and other social celebrities, the bridge was rebuilt. The whole duration of construction lasted 4 years. The whole bridge is 98 meters long and 16 meters high.
In 1726, during the 4th reign year of Emperor Yongzheng, Li Wei(李卫), the local governor spent his salary rebuilding the bridge and extended 2 meters of the width of bridge and heightened 2 inches of the depth of the bridge, and then wrote a historical record named Chongjian Gongchenqiao Ji(重建拱宸桥记, Record on Rebuilding Gongchen Bridge).
In 1863, during the 2rd reign year of Emperor Tongzhi, Zuo Zongtang(左宗棠,a famous general of late Qing Dynasty) led Xiang Troop(湘军, a regional troop established by Zeng Guofan in Hunan province), Changjie Troop to attacking Hangzhou, and the Gongchen Bridge was burnt down in the warfare because it acted as the fort of troops of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom.
In 1885, during the 11th reign year of Emperor Guangxu, Gongchen Bridge was rebuilt by Ding Bing(丁丙), a local of Hangzhou. In 1888, Gongchen Bridge was rebuilt as well. In 1895, after the humiliated signing of Treaty of Shimonoseki(马关条约), Hangzhou was forced to be a trading port. In 1896, a foreign customs sector was established here. After the victory of anti-Japanese war, the customs sector was abolished absolutely. In 2005, Gongchen Bridge had a large reconstruction. Currently, it is listed as a cultural and historic site under the provincial protection.
Ba Xia, The Guardian Monster of Gongchen Bridge
Ba Xia is one of nine sons of dragon king. It prefers the water and accepted as the Grand Canal Guardian. More details to read about Ba Xia and its legends>>>
The Historic Zone of Gongchen Bridge
The east side of the bridge is the cultural square of Grand Canal. There are six cameos on the square illustrating the ancient history of Grand Canal. The Qianyun Tea House is the typical archaized building. At dark, the neighboring residents walking and resting here get accustomed to perform the local operas like Yue Opera and Kunqu Opera. And it is also the center of ground calligrapher’s handwriting exercise. The landmark of the square is Grand Canal Museum of China
On the west side of the bridge is the historic zone of the Gongchen Bridge. The scale of the zone northwardly to the former storehouse of Hangzhou No.1 cotton manufacturing factory, southwardly extended to Dengyun Road and Xiaohe Road westward, and eastwardly it abuts Hangzhou Grand Canal. In this zone, there is a large number of folk residents are preserved, and many traditional and time-honored medicine stores, tea houses, Taoist temples and restaurants are available over there. Based on the old storehouses of the factories, there are several museums like China Fan Museum, China Umbrella Museum and China Scissors, Knives and Swords Museum. In a word, this is a valuable historic zone for traveling and leisure.
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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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