(ancient name: 吳
) is a city
on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River
and on the shores of Lake Taihu
in the province of Jiangsu
. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas
, and meticulously designed gardens
which have contributed to its status as a great tourist attraction. Since the Song Dynasty
(960-1279), Suzhou has also been an important centre for China's silk
industry and continues to hold that prominent position today. The city is part of the Yangtze River Delta
region. The GDP per capita
was 元79,406 (ca. US$10,087) in 2006, ranked no. 5 among 659 Chinese cities.
Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture
, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze
Basin. 2500 years ago in the late Shang Dynasty
, local tribes who named themselves "Gou Wu" lived in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helu (闔閭/阖闾) of Wu established "Great City of Helu", the ancient name for Suzhou, as his capital. In 496 BC, Helu was buried in Huqiu (Tiger Hill 虎丘).
In 473 BC Wu was defeated by Yue, a kingdom to the east which was soon annexed by the Chu in 306 BC. The golden era of Suzhou ended with this conquest. Remnants of this culture include remainders of a 2,500 year old city wall and the gate through it at Pan Gate.
By the time of the Qin Dynasty, the city was known as Wu County. Xiang Yu (项羽) staged his historical uprising here in 209 BC, which contributed to the overthrow of Qin.
During the Sui Dynasty - in 589 AD - the city was renamed Suzhou.
When the Grand Canal was completed, Suzhou found itself strategically located on a major trade route. In the course of the history of China, it has been a metropolis of industry and commerce on the south-eastern coast of China.
During the Tang Dynasty (825 AD), the great poet Bai Juyi (白居易) constructed the Shantang Canal (called "Shantang Street" or 山塘街) to connect the city with Huqiu for tourists. In 1035 AD, the temple of Confucius was founded by famed poet and writer Fan Zhongyan (范仲淹). It became the venue for imperial civil examinations.
In February 1130, the advancing Jin army from the north ransacked and massacred the city. This was followed by the Mongol invasion (1275) and destruction of the royal city (in the centre of the walled city) in the beginning of the Ming Dynasty (1367).
Thereafter, the city had a more prosperous time. Many of the famous private gardens were constructed by the gentry of the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, the city was to see another disaster in 1860 when Taiping soldiers advanced on and captured the city. In November 1863 the Ever Victorious Army of Charles Gordon recaptured the city from the Taiping forces.
The next crisis that met the city was the Japanese invasion in 1937. Many gardens were devastated by the end of the war. In the early 1950s, restoration was done on gardens such as Zhuo-Zheng Yuan (Humble Administrator's Garden) and Dong Yuan (East Garden) to bring them back to life.
In 1981, this ancient city was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should be treated as a priority project. Since then, with suburban economic projects, Suzhou has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in China.
Classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. It is possible to make a virtual tour at the UNESCO site in panorama through the wonderful Classical Gardens of Suzhou.
Districts and satellite cities
Because Suzhou is one of the most prosperous cities in China, its development has a direct correlation with the growth of its satellite
cities, most notably Kunshan
, Mudu, and Zhangjiagang
, which together form the greater Suzhou region. Suzhou's jurisdictional areas are home to many high-tech development enterprises.
Suzhou has jurisdiction over (at county level):
- Districts: Canglang 沧浪, Jinchang 金阊, Pingjiang 平江, Suzhou Industrial Park 工业园区, Suzhou High & New Technology Development Zone 高新区, Xiangcheng 相城, Wuzhong 吴中)
- County-level cities: Changshu 常熟, Taicang 太仓, Kunshan 昆山, Wujiang 吴江, and Zhangjiagang 张家港.
- Pan Gate is 2,500 years old and was first built by the state of Wu in the Warring States Period. It is renowned for its unique structure as a combined water and land gate.
- Tiger Hill (Huqiu)
- Xuanmiao Guan (originally built in 276 AD, rebuilt in 1584)
- Huqiu Temple (originally built in 327, rebuilt in 1871)
- Cold Mountain Temple (Hanshan Si) (built in 503, destroyed and rebuilt many times, last reconstruction in 1896)
- Baodai Bridge (built in 816, rebuilt in 1442)
- Shantang Canal (built in 825)
- Yunyan Pagoda (built in 961)
- Ruiguang Pagoda (built in 1009)
- Lingering Garden (Liu Yuan) (built in 1525, rebuilt in 1953)
- Master of the Nets Garden (Wang Shi Yuan) (built in the Song Dynasty)
- Blue Wave Pavilion (Canglang Ting) (built in 1696)
- Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty
- Lion Grove Garden (built in 1342)
- Garden of Cultivation
- The Retreat & Reflection Garden
- Humble Administrator's Garden (Zhuozheng Yuan) (built in 1513, rebuilt in 1860)
- Gate of the Orient, the city's tallest building due for completion in 2007
- Suzhou Museum, the newly built museum by I. M. Pei
- No.1 Suzhou Silk factory the first silk factory in Suzhou
Suzhou is conveniently located on the Jinghu Railway linking Shanghai and Nanjing, the provincial capital, to both of which there is hourly railway service. Suzhou Railway Station is among the busiest passenger stations in China, having 139 trains stopping daily. T-Trains only take 45 minutes to Shanghai and an hour and half to Nanjing. Driving options include the Jiangsu-Shanghai Expressway, the Yangtze Riverine Expressway, the Suzhou-Jiaxing-Hangzhou Expressway. In 2005, the new Suzhou Outer Ring was completed, linking the peripheral county-level cities of Taicang, Kunshan, and Changshu. By water, Suzhou is connected with Zhangjiagang, Luzhi, Liujia and Changshou.
Although Wuxi Shuofang Airport and Guangfu United Airlines Airport serve as two municipal airports, and the State Council approved of the construction of an airport exclusively serving Suzhou in 2003, air transportation from Suzhou continues to be at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.
The Suzhou Metro is currently being constructed.
- Chinese opera: Kunqu originates in the Suzhou region, as does the much later Suzhou Opera. Ballad-singing, or Suzhou pingtan, is a local form of storytelling that mixes singing (accompanied on the pipa) with portions in spoken dialect.
- Handicrafts: Suzhou embroidery, fans, national musical instruments, scroll mounting, lanterns, mahogany furniture, jade carving, silk tapestry, traditional painting pigments of Jiangenxutang Studio, the New Year's wood-block prints of Taohuawu Studio.
- Calligraphic art
- Cuisine: Yangcheng Lake huge crab
- Suzhou Silk Hand Embroidery Art
- Suzhou is the original place of "Jasmine", a song sung by Chinese singers or actresses thousands of times on the occasions of almost every important meetings or celebrations. Jasmine is also the symbol of Suzhou as well as Tai Hu Lake.
- "A very great and noble city... It has 1600 stone bridges under which a galley may pass." - Marco Polo
- "Capital of Silk", "Land of Abundance", "Gusu city", "Cradle of the Wu Culture", and "World of Gardens", "Oriental Venice or Venice of the East"- nicknames of Suzhou
- 上有天堂 下有蘇杭 "Paradise above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below." - Chinese saying
- "Born in Suzhou, live in Hangzhou, eat in Guangzhou, and die in Liuzhou." - Chinese saying.
- 美不美 太湖水 親不親 故郷人 "Beautiful or not beautiful, nothing is more beautiful than the waters of Taihu. Related or not related, we are all the people of the same village." - Chinese saying
Public institutions having full-time Bachelor's degree programs include:
Suzhou (including 7 districts and 5 county-level cities under Suzhou's jurisdiction) has more than 50 sister cities
, twin towns
- Venice Italy
- Victoria, British Columbia Canada
- Ikeda, Osaka Japan
- Kanazawa, Ishikawa Japan
- Portland, Oregon USA
- Tulcea County Romania
- Jeonju Republic of Korea
- Kameoka, Kyoto Japan
- Riga Latvia
- Ismaïlia Egypt
- Grenoble France
- Nijmegen Netherlands
- Esbjerg Denmark
- Konstanz Germany
- Taupo New Zealand
- Nabari, Mie Japan
- Porto Alegre Brazil
- Jacksonville, Florida USA
- Riihimäki Finland
- Taebaek South Korea
- Nowy Sącz Poland
- Kiev Ukraine
- Zaporizhia Ukraine
- Logan, Queensland Australia
- Antananarivo Madagascar
- Santiago del Estero Province Argentina
- Viña del Mar Chile
- Yeongju South Korea
- Daisen, Tottori Japan
- Riesa Germany
- Rotorua New Zealand
- Santa Luċija Malta
- Hirokawa, Fukuoka Japan
- Portland, Victoria Australia
- Eiheiji, Fukui Japan
- Marugame, Kagawa Japan
- Ayabe, Kyoto Japan
- Sendai, Kagoshima Japan
- Townsville, Queensland Australia
- Whittier, California USA
- Brest France
- South El Monte, California, USA
- Grootfontein Namibia
- Tahara, Aichi Japan
- Tottori, Tottori Japan
- Rosolina, Italy
- Uchinada, Ishikawa Japan
- Bourgoin-Jallieu France
- Dubbo, New South Wales Australia
- Chiba, Chiba Japan
- Hwaseong, Gyeonggi South Korea
- Nago, Okinawa Japan