Hangzhou Tourist Attractions
Top Tourist Attractions in Hangzhou
Hangzhou (Hangchow) lies in the north of Zhejiang province, in the Qiantangjiang delta, about 40km/25mi west of Hangzhou Bay, at 120°12'E and 30°15'N.The rather tranqil town of Hangzhou, popularly known as ''Silk City'', is one of China's most beautiful towns; in the words of the well-known Chinese proverb ''In Heaven is Paradise, here on earth are Suzhou and Hangzhou''. The famous ''Dragon Well'' tea (Longjing cha) which is hand-picked twice a year is grown in this region.
Hangzhou, one of China's six historical capital cities, can boast of 2100 years of history. It was first mentioned as an important urban settlement known as Qiantang in 221 BC. It was given its present name in the year 589 during the Sui dynasty (581-618); when the Grand Canal was then built between Beijing and Hangzhou the town grew rapidly in importance. From the 9th C onwards, over a period of 237 years and under fourteen emperors, Hangzhou was repeatedly chosen to be a capital city. Its truly halcyon days began when the rulers of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279) fled here after they had lost control of north China and their capital city of Kaifeng and sought to make Handan their new capital. With them came artists and academics.Marco Polo visited Hangzhou in the 13th C, was immediately captivated by this ''Heavenly City'', as it was then known, and described it as the most beautiful in the world. Although he was impressed by the ''beautiful palaces'', the ''wonderfully built houses'' and the twelve thousand stone bridges, the streets surfaced in stone and brick and the Turkish baths, he waxed even more enthusiastic about the town's navigational system which made it a port on both the river and the sea, and the many and varied craft workshops and their size (''every workshop employed at least ten, often fifteen, twenty, thirty or even forty men, apprentices as well as master craftsmen'').Hangzhou is one of the best towns for shopping anywhere in China. Silk is the chief local product. Other good buys include brocade, tea (the Longjin type) and scissors made by Zhang Xiaoquan. These can be bought especially in shops along Zhongshan Zhonglu, Jiefang Lu, Hubin Lu and Yan'an Lu, the streets which form the town's main shopping quarter.Of interest are also the following museums: the pharmacy museum (Hu Qingye Tang), a museum for traditional Chinese medicine; the silk museum (south of West Lake) with a documentation of the 5000-year history of silk production and the tea museum (southwest of West Lake) where it is possible to taste and buy tea.
To the west of Hangzhou's Old Town is West Lake, picturesquely backed by hills and dotted with four islands.
Originally constructed in 326 BC, the existing Temple of the Hidden Immortals was rebuilt in the 19th C. It is one of the most famous temples in China.
There are several attractions in the Hangzhou surrounding areas.
Pagoda of the Six Harmonies
About 8km/5mi south of Hangzhou, on the north bank of the Qiantangjiang river, the visitor will find the 60m/200ft high Pagoda of the Six Harmonies. When it was rebuilt in 1899 the original brick core was retained and wood-cladding added to the exterior.On this site there once stood a former pagoda towering to a height of 150m/500ft or so, built in 970 but burned down by a foreign army in 1121. The pagoda is thought to offer protection from floods and also serves as a lighthouse.Although from the outside the octagonal building appears to have thirteen stories, in fact there are only seven. A staircase incorporated in the wood-cladding enables visitors to climb almost to the top. From there the view includes the 1322m/3966ft long road and rail bridge over the Qiantangjian river which was built between 1934 and 1937 to designs by the architect Mao Yisheng.Collected together in a park at the Pagoda of the Six Harmonies are 80 or so reconstructions of pagodas from all over China.
Mount Moganshan, 719m/2360ft high, lies 50km/31mi northwest of Hangzhou and 200km/124mi southwest of Shanghai. There are bus services from both those cities.The word ''Mogan'' is formed from two separate names, Mo Xie and Gan Jiang, being those of a married couple who lived in the 5th C BC. Both were very skilled sword smiths who devoted their lives to making two incomparably beautiful swords for the emperor.Of the many picturesque spots which the countryside around Hangzhou has to offer, special mention should be made of Sword Lake (Jian Chi), on the banks of which - so legend has it - Mo Xie and Gan Jiang would sit and polish the swords they had just forged. An impressive three-stage waterfall feeds water into the lake.
Spring of the Running Tiger
The Spring of the Running Tiger (Hupao Quan), 5km/3mi south of West Lake, is one of three best known springs in China. A legend describes how it was discovered in 819 with the help of two tigers. The spring produces 0.37 cu.m/80gallons) of water per second; the quality is regarded as being extremely good and it is ideal for making tea. The high surface tension of the water is an interesting factor; visitors can test this by placing a coin on the surface and watching it float. There is a tea-house in the former temple nearby.
3km/2mi southwest of West Lake, to the east of the village of the same name, lies Dragon Well (Longjing) in the midst of some beautiful countryside, a feature of which are the tea plantations which produce the fine Dragon Well tea (Longjiang Cha). According to the villagers the spring which provides water for the well was discovered some time before 1800.A visit is recommended to one of the tea factories in which the fresh tea-leaves are refined, processed and packed.