Chinese people prefer talking about the dream, and the president of China likes talking the dream of China, though it is a macroscopic coverage. It is too large to explain clearly. But the shared dream of people in China, specifically rooted in the soul of the individual and the tradition of the country, could be demonstrated here. Chinese people always describe or illustrate an ideal imagery when mention their utopia, that it would be a waterside family in Jiangnan, and four generations live together harmoniously and happily in this milk-and-honey land. In fact, there is a true utopia of Chinese people, which is Wuzhen. Wuzhen Water Town (乌镇, literally defined and translated to be the Black Township) located in Tongxiang, Jiaxing city, Zhejiang province, is the top one among Chinese water towns, and also the most famous and classic one at home and abroad, and in East China, is also the top of six most famous and poetic water towns.|
Originally named Wudun or Qingdun, Wuzhen has a history of more than 6,000 years.
For culture lovers, Wuzhen Water Town is the first recommendation to learn about the history and culture of Chinese Water Townships in southern China. It has been one of the World Cultural Heritage sites in the UNESCO tentative list. In 1991, it was officially approved to be a historic and cultural site of Zhejiang province. In 1999, it was developed and opened officially as a tourist destination. In 2014, Wuzhen was honorably selected to be the permanent venue of the World Internet Conference.
This History of Wuzhen Water Town
Geographically, Wuzhen is situated between Shanghai and Hangzhou, and the key point in the economic strategy that Hangzhou is northwardly integrated with Shanghai in economic development. So for travelers visiting to Shanghai and Hangzhou, Wuzhen is an ideal extension for tour. In other words, Travelers go and come between Shanghai and Hangzhou, and unavoidably go by Wuzhen. Therefore, it is necessary to learn about the history of this township.
The name origins of Wuzhen are diverse. One viewpoint is that the forefather’s surname of the local citizens was Wuyu(乌余), and this land is higher than surroundings, so it is also called Dun(墩). Based on these explanations, this place got its name Wudun(乌墩) , and another one is that this land god of this place was called General Shenwu(神乌将军), so it was called Wuzhen. The last one is from Record of Wuqing Town, edited by Lu Xuebo, that Wu(乌) and Qing(青) are both for describing the beauty of nature, and a town of Wu just means this town is beautiful and fantastically charming.(a small picture to view the night view of Wuzhen Water Town)
Wuzhen has a long history, and it has a famous pre-historic site named Tanjiawan Ancient Cultural Site, a lot of ceramics, stone-wares, bone-wares and bones of wild animals are excavated. After research, this site belongs to the Neolithic Age. Wuzhen has a history of more than 6,000 years. In Qin period, Wuzhen was administrated by Kuaiji Prefecture, and divided into Wudun and Qingdun. In Tang period, Wuzhen was administrated in the prefecture of Suzhou, and in 872, Wuzhen was initially mentioned. In South Song Dynasty, Wuzhen was still divided into Wudun Town and Qingdun Town. For avoiding using the personal name of Emperor Guangzong, so Wudun Town was changed to be Wu Town, namely, Wuzhen. In 1950, Wuzhen and Qingzhen were unified under the administration of Tongxiang County.
The Selected Tourist Sites of Wuzhen Water Town
Wuzhen is a typical water town of Jiangnan region, and well preserves the original look of water towns in late Qing Dynasty and Republic of China. The whole town is built along the river, and the internal street network makes the whole scenic area impressive very much. The whole town embodies the thought of humanity of traditional Chinese culture – Harmony is Beauty. This town has more than 2000 years of history, and the cross-style internal waterway divides the whole town into four sections, respectively named Dongzha, Nanzha, Xizha and Beizha, and currently, the highlights of the whole town tourist attractions are Dongzha and Xizha. Especially, Xizha is the most popular part of Wuzhen as a tourist site, and it is also one of the best-preserved architectural complexes in Ming and Qing dynasties. The representatives of tourist attractions in Wuzhou as below:
Xizha Scenic Zone – The earliest section of Wuzhen opened to the public is Dongzha Scenic Area, and Xizha section is opened after its resurfacing. The popular way to go to Xizha is taking boat. Therefore, the best word to describe Xizha is harmony. Xizha scenic area is comprised of 12 isles, and more than 70 bridges connected all of them. This is a rarely seen view in China. Two famous bridges of them are Tongji Bridge and Renji Bridge; two bridges together shape a classic view – Double Bridges, or Bridge in Bridge(regarded as the most classic view in Wuzhen), entering the scenic area via bridges needs choosing, because different bridge represents different destinies or futures of the individuals.
There are lots of old things reserved in Xizha. An old street extends for several miles, and the stone-paved paths are old but unique, and two-side houses mostly stand over the water, also there are many handmade craftworks that hardly bought outside. At the time, local women after makeup used to carry a medicine-decocting pot and go to river side in line to put the pots into the river, and it was said that this act could keep them and their families away from disease. Up to modern times, this tradition disappeared. The folk lodging and hotels are also special, and the outside is a traditional look, but the inside was decorated modernly. In the ancient street of Xizha, visitors also can get the services from high-level business clubs, spa centers as well as bars.
The picturesque and poetic view of Wuzhen Water Town, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, China
Jiangnan Hundred Beds Museum – is Chinese first themed museum collecting and exhibiting the ancient beds of Jiangnan regions. It is located on No.210, East Street of Wuzhen, which is also called Zhaojiating. There are dozens of different beds of Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as the traditional beds in modern times.
The Branch Office of Jiangzhe Prefecture - used to be a special organ in Ming Dynasty in charge of supervising the salt business and capturing the robbers. This administrative organ setting up in Ming Dynasty and dismantling in the Republic of China, totally lasted for more than 370 years. It is close to Fanglu Pavilion, a famous site of Wuzhen as well.
Jiangnan Folk Custom Museum – Jin family was a big family in Dongzha area, so their life could be a record of lifestyle history at the time. Jiangnan folk custom museum displays diverse folk customs like birthday anniversary ceremonies, wedding ceremonies and rite as well as the seasonal festive rituals and ceremonies.
Jiangnan Woodcarvings Displaying Museum – this used to be the great mansion of Xu family in Dongzha area, also called Baihuating, or Hall of Diverse Flowers, famous for its dedicate woodcarvings. Its exquisite beans and columns, especially the carved figures, animals and other images, give tourists a special impression indeed.
Yu Liuliang Coins Museum - Yu Liuliang was a native of Wuzhen and a great collector of coins. He created many great academic works themed with coins and paper money like the Appreciation and Collection of China, Coins, Free Talk on Coins as well as the Outline of Numismatics. These collections are all his reservation in the past forty years. This museum displays nearly 26,000 kinds of coins from nearly 260 countries and regions.
The Former Residence of Mao Dun – is the only cultural and historic site under the national protection in Jiaxin city. It is mainly for memorizing Mao Dun(茅盾), a famous writer and scholar in modern China.
Xiuzhen Taoist Temple and Ancient Opera Performance Stage - Xiuzhen Taoist Temple(修真观), also known to be Xiuzhenguan ranks one of three top Taoist temples (Suzhou Xuanmiao Taoist Temple, Puyuan Xiangyun Taoist Temple and Wuzhen Xiuzhen Taoist Temple) in Jiangnan region. It was initially built in 998, A Taoist named Zhang Dongming built his cultivation site here, and then named this site Xiuzhenguan. In history of Taoism in Jiangnan region, it has a superior status. Ancient Opera Performance Stage is the subsidiary architecture of this Taoist temple. This site was built in 1749, and suffered several serious damages in history. And its last reconstruction took place in 1919. The couplet is quite impressive and poetic:
One show of drum and gang to arouse the spring-like dream of humankind
Two melodies of gong and shang to attract the immortal gods of heaven
The Splendid Night Scene of Wuzhen Water Town Viewed in the Riverside Guest House. Romantic and Picturesque Environment Suitable for Lovers and Young Couples
The Permanent Site of World Internet Conference
In 2014, Wuzhen was selected to be the permanent site of World Internet Conference. And the first time of the meeting named Wuzhen Summit was held in Wuzhen. It largely broadens the influence and reputation in the world. More to read about the introduction to the World Internet Conference, and the feature of Wuzhen as a spotlight of the world internet development, please click the link to the Wuzhen Water Town, The Venue of World Internet Conference >>>
The Local Specialities of Wuzhen Water Town
The business district of Wuzhen centers on the middle town and four directions shape their own systems respectively. The center of Dongzha is Caishenwan, which is the largest aquatic product market, and time-honored Xuhengyu(徐恒裕), the largest wholesales and retails shop in Wuzhen. Incidentally, there are many famous specialties of Wuzhen are available like Gusaobing(姑嫂饼, cake of aunts), Hangbaiju, Soy Duck of Sanzhenzhai, Mutton of Wuzhen, Preserved Bean Tea and Three White Wine.
The folk custom of Wuzhen is also diversified. Different phase has different custom or tradition. For instance, weighing up the weight of children in Li Xia(立夏, summer begins, one of 24 solar terms). On June 6 of traditional lunar calendar, annually, it is the best time to shine the books and clothes to dispel the bugs and mildew. In the past, the learners or scholars would shine their books outside, and monks and nuns shine their sutras or scrolls, and the common people shine their clothes, some people also have a convention to bathe their cats and dogs in the river. And the citizens shined water to give their children a bath, and woman would wash their hairs. On that day, people used to eat wonton(馄饨) to get rid of the evil. Walking over the bridges on the Lantern Festival used to be also a tradition in Wuzhen to get rid of the evil and unluckiness.
Over the past thousands of years, lots of famous people went out from Wuzhen like Xiao Tong(萧统, Prince of Liang State, who compiled first greatest collective works of literature, named Zhaoming Wenxuan(昭明文选), Shen Ping(沈平), the compiler of Chinese earliest record of town history, Zhang Yangyuan(张杨园), a famous neo-Confucianism scholar and master, Bao Tingbo(鲍廷博), a famous bibliophile, Yan Chen(严辰) and Xia Tongshan(夏同善), both of whom were the famous official in late Qing Dynasty, Lu Xuebo(卢学博), a famous banker, Yan Duhe(严独鹤), a pioneer of Chinese journalism, Shen Liying(沈骊英), a famous agriculturalist, and Mao Dun(茅盾), the first minister of Ministry of Culture of new Chin.
Haining Travel Guide
World Internet Conference in Wuzhen