The closest to the Yangtze River of all the ancient water towns, Zhujiajiao is a town truly shaped around the water upon which it’s situated. Zhujiajiao is extremely well preserved, with more than 10,000 buildings dating back to the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Stone streets, rock bridges and waterways are the center of everything in this 1,700-year-old town, framed by shady willow trees and the people who live there going about their days on the water.
Like the other ancient water towns, Zhujiajiao boasts historic sites, bridges, and beautiful gardens. Kezhi Garden in particular is not to be missed. Originally built in 1912 by the Ma Family, it’s the largest private garden in Zhujiajiao and quite big for the area. Located on North Street, Kezhi Garden’s lush greenery, winding paths, arched bridges, and variety of architecture (including the tallest pavilion in town) are quite lovely and romantic to stroll through. North Street also has many shops with artisans of all types and snack vendors. Fangsheng Bridge is another major attraction in Zhujiajiao. Though it is but one of 36 ancient bridges throughout town, it is the largest, longest and tallest stone arch bridge in the area. It was built in 1571 to connect people from both sides of the river and is adorned with carved dragons, lions and a shining pearl, a nod to the town’s name of “Pearl Stream.” The view from atop the bridge is memorable, with the historic town stretching out beyond it. The Qing Dynasty Post Office is located on Xihu Street, which is nearby in a residential area of Zhujiajiao, and remains today largely as it was in the Qing Dynasty. The post office was built in 1903 and features a mix of Western influences with more traditional Chinese architecture. The layout and exterior mailbox remain exactly as they were originally; inside, there are displays old letters written on bamboo and antique postcards.
Because Zhujiajiao is just a quick jaunt from Shanghai, this ancient town is often bustling with locals, Shanghai residents looking for a place to relax away from the city, and tourists eager to explore this preserved town. Keep this in mind when visiting on weekends, or simply soak in the energy and unique experience of touring a famous ancient water town.
Photo Credit: www.zhujiajiao.com