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Water Town – Nanxun

Nanxun is located in Zhejiang Province. Once known as Xunxi and then Nanlin, the name “Nanxun” (meaning “South of the Xun River”) was solidified toward the end of the Chunyou Period of the Song Dynasty. Nanxun was once the richest of the ancient water towns, thanks to its silk production industry, which continues there to this day. Mulberry trees, whose leaves serve as food for silkworms, can be seen throughout Nanxun, a reminder of its past prominence in the silk trade. Today Nanxun echoes the quaint Chinese water town seen in centuries-old paintings, without hordes of tourists to take away from your authentic experience. You’ll also see hints of Western culture from the town’s days as a silk and salt hub, garnering Nanxun’s Changhushen Channel the nickname the “Oriental Rhine.”

Key places to visit in Nanxun include the Little Lotus Garden (Xiao Lian Zhuang), Jiaye Library Hall, the Mansion of 100 Rooms, and the former residence of Zhang Shiming. The Little Lotus Garden was built as a private property, belonging to Liu Yong, a wealthy merchant and government official. The outer garden, with its nearly 10 acres of lotus pools, is especially colorful in the summer when the lotus flowers are in bloom. The inner garden’s walls are decorated with paintings, calligraphy and other historic décor. It is an idyllic place to visit, with its pavilions, stone arches, rocks, bamboo and water. The Jiaye Library was built as a private library in 1920, where owner Liu Chenggan (grandson of Liu Yong) housed more than 600,000 historic books and rare documents. The Mansion of One Hundred Rooms (or One-Hundred Residential Houses) is actually a serious of interconnected residential buildings constructed in the Ming Dynasty. These buildings run along the river and are connected by archways. Finally, the former residence of the wealthy businessman Zhang Shiming,  who brought much western culture to Nanxun, was built at the turn of the 20th Century and features numerous chambers (salons, halls, studies, and bedrooms), each with a different architectural style. Intricate wood details, glass brought in from France, stone carvings and more make it an exquisite place to visit. In addition to the buildings and cultural relics of Nanxun, the cuisine is not to be missed. Fresh fish, chestnut cakes, and Taihu crab and shrimp are local delicacies worth trying.

Photo Credit: www.nanxun.com.cn


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