Suzhou (simplified Chinese: 苏州; pinyin: Sūzhōu; Suzhou dialect: [səu tsøʏ]), previously transliterated as Su-chou, Suchow, and Soochow, is a major city located in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, located adjacent to Shanghai Municipality. The city is situated on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part of the Yangtze River Delta region. Administratively, Suzhou is a prefecture-level city with an urban population of over 2.4 million expanding to over 6 million in the extended metropolitan area.

Originally built in 514 BCE, Suzhou has over 2,500 years of rich history, and relics of the past are abundant to this day. The city's canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. Since the Song Dynasty (960-1279), it has also been an important centre for China's silk industry.

In 1981, Suzhou was listed by the State Council, the PRC government, as one of four cities (the other three being Beijing, Hangzhou and Guilin) where the protection of historical and cultural heritage as well as natural scenery should ideally be treated with utmost care. The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. Suzhou is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" or "Venice of China".


Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture,[citation needed] is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. 2500 years ago in the late Zhou Dynasty, local tribes who named themselves Gou Wu (勾吳) lived in the area which would become the modern city of Suzhou. These tribes formed villages on the edges of hills above the wetlands around Lake Tai, their territorial range was centered on Wuxi.

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).

In 1356, Suzhou became of the capital of Zhang Shicheng, one of the leaders of the Red Turban Rebellion against the Yuan Dynasty and the self-proclaimed King of Wu. In 1367 Zhang's main rival, Nanjing-based Zhu Yuanzhang took the city after a 10-month siege. Zhu - who was soon to proclaim himself as the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty - demolished the royal city (in the centre of Suzhou's walled city), and imposed crushing taxes on the city's and prefecture's powerful families.

Despite the heavy taxation and the resettlement of some of Suzhou's prominent citizens' to the area of Hongwu's capital, Nanjing, Suzhou soon was prosperous again. When in 1488 the shipwrecked Korean official Choe Bu had a chance to see much of Eastern China - from Zhejiang to Liaoning - on his way home, he described Suzhou in his travel report as exceeding every other city in China he had seen. 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 Liu Yuan (Lingering Garden) to bring them back to life.

Administrative divisions
The urban core of Suzhou is informally called Old Town Suzhou. It is divided among Pingjiang District, Canglang District, and Jinchang District. Suzhou Industrial Park is on the west of the old town, and Suzhou High & New Technology Development Zone is on the east. In 2000, the original Wu County was divided into two districts including Xiangcheng and Wuzhong. They now form the northern and southern parts of the city of Suzhou.

Suzhou is one of the most prosperous cities in China. Its development has a direct correlation with the growth of its satellite cities, including Kunshan, Taicang, Changshu, Wujiang and Zhangjiagang, which together with the city of Suzhou form the Suzhou prefecture. The Suzhou prefecture is home to many high-tech enterprises.

Suzhou has jurisdiction over (at county level):
Canglang District (沧浪)
Jinchang District (金阊)
Pingjiang District (平江)
Suzhou Industrial Park (工业园区)
Suzhou High & New Technology Development Zone (高新区)
Xiangcheng District (相城)
Wuzhong District (吴中)
County-level cities:
Changshu (常熟)
Taicang (太仓)
Kunshan (昆山)
Wujiang (吴江)
Zhangjiagang (张家港)


Suzhou is located on the Taihu Lake Plain, about 100 kilometres (62 mi) to the west of Shanghai, and more than double that east of Nanjing.


Suzhou has a four-season, monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers, and cool, cloudy, damp winters with occasional snowfall. Northwesterly winds blowing from Siberia during winter can cause temperatures to fall below freezing at night, while southerly or southwesterly winds during the summer can push temperatures above 35 °C (95 °F).

Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens. Zhuozheng Yuan (Humble Administrator's Garden; Chinese: 拙政园) and Liu Yuan[disambiguation needed] (Lingering Garden; Chinese: 留园) are among the four most famous classical gardens in China. Canglang Pavilion (Great Wave Pavilion; Chinese: 沧浪亭), Shizi Lin (Lion Grove Garden; Chinese: 狮子林), Zhuozheng Yuan and Liu Yuan, respectively representing the garden building style of the Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasty, are called the four most famous gardens in Suzhou.

Zhuozheng Yuan, Liu Yuan, Wangshi Yuan (Master of the Nets Garden; Chinese: 网师园) and Huanxiu Mountain Villa(The Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty; Chinese: 环秀山庄) were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997. Shizi Lin, Canglang Pavilion, Ou Yuan (Couple's Retreat Garden; Chinese: 藕园), Yi Pu (Garden of Cultivation; Chinese: 艺圃) and Tuisi Yuan (The Retreat & Reflection Garden; Chinese: 退思园) were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 2000.

Tiger Hill (Chinese: 虎丘) is a popular tourist destination and is known for its natural beauty as well as historical sites. The hill is so named because it is said to look like a crouching tiger. Another legend states that a white tiger appeared on the hill to guard it following the burial of King Helü. The hill has been a tourist destination for hundreds, if not thousands, of years, as is evident from the poetry and calligraphy carved into rocks on the hill. A famous Song Dynasty poet, Su Shi said, "It is a lifelong pity if having visited Suzhou  you did not visit Tiger Hill."


Hanshan Temple (Cold Mountain Temple; Chinese: 寒山寺) is a Buddhist temple and monastery in Suzhou. It is located near Fengqiao (Maple Bridge; Chinese: 枫桥), about 5 kilometres west of the old city of Suzhou. The Hanshan Temple is famed in East Asia because of the well-known poem "A Night Mooring near Maple Bridge" (夜泊枫桥) written by Zhang Ji (张继), a poet of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

Xiyuan Temple (Monastery Garden; Chinese: 西园寺), built in the Yuan Dynasty, is the largest Buddhist temple in Suzhou. It consists of two major parts - the Temple of Jiezhuanglu and the West Garden. It is located close to the Lingering Garden, which was originally called the East Garden.

Xuanmiao Temple (Chinese: 玄妙观) (originally built in 276) is a prominent Taoist temple with a long history, located at the center of old Suzhou City. The street along east-west direction in front of the temple is called Guanqian Street (观前街), a famed business pedestrian street in Suzhou.

Ancient water towns

Among the six most famous Chinese water towns, three are located in the Suzhou region, including Zhouzhuang (周庄), Tongli (同里) and Luzhi (甪直). Other well-known water towns in Suzhou include Mudu (木渎), Jinxi (锦溪), Guangfu (光福), Zhenze (震泽), Qiandeng (千灯), and Shaxi (沙溪).

Zhouzhuang is one of the most famous water towns in China. Zhouzhuang is located in Kunshan, 30 kilometers (18 miles) to the southeast of Suzhou City. Occupying an area of just over half a square kilometer (124 acres), over 60 percent of Zhouzhuang's buildings were built during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) Dynasties. The village is known for its ancient traditions and customs, preserved buildings, ancient bridges, and picturesque location.

Tongli is located in Wujiang, 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Suzhou City. It has a history of more than 1,000 years. Tongli is crisscrossed with canals, and dotted with traditional Chinese gardens. The Retreat & Reflection Garden is located in Tongli.

Luzhi is about 25 kilometers east of Suzhou. It has a history of more than 1400 years. Covering just one square kilometer, it has been awarded the great name of 'the first water town in China'.

Within the city of Suzhou, there are also areas featuring water town scenery. Both eight hundred-year-old Pingjiang Road (平江路) and twelve hundred-year-old Shantang Road (山塘街) made it to the list of China's "famous history and culture streets", and both feature elegant bridges, flowing waters and unique architecture.


Suzhou Taihu National Tourism and Vacation Zone (苏州太湖国家旅游度假区) is located in the western part of Suzhou, 15 km from downtown. Lake Tai has historically been considered a place of great natural beauty.

Pan Gate (Chinese: 盘门) is located on the south-west corner of the Main Canal or encircling canal of Suzhou. Originally built during the Warring States Period in the state of Wu, historians estimate it to be around 2,500 years old. It is now part of the Pan Gate Scenic Area. It is known for the "three landmarks of Pan Gate". They are the Ruiguang Pagoda(Chinese: 瑞光塔), the earliest pagoda in Suzhou built in 247 BC, the Wu Gate Bridge, the entrance to the gate at that time over the water passage and the highest bridge in Suzhou at the time, and Pan Gate. The Ruigang Pagoda is constructed of brick with wooden platforms and has simple Buddhist carvings at its base.

Baodai Bridge(Precious Belt Bridge; Chinese: 宝带桥) stretches across the Daitai Lake in the suburbs of Suzhou.The bridge was first built in 806 A.D. in the Tang Dynasty and has 53 arches with a total length of 317 meters. The bridge was included on the list of national monuments (resolution 5-285) in 2001.

Yunyan Pagoda (Chinese: 虎丘塔或者云岩寺塔) (built in 961) is a Chinese pagoda built on Tiger Hill in Suzhou. It has several other names, including the 'Leaning Tower of China' (as referred to by historian O.G. Ingles) and the Yunyan Temple Tower. The tower rises to a height of 47 m (154 ft). It is a seven-story octagonal building built with blue bricks. In more than a thousand years the tower has gradually slanted due to forces of nature. Now the top and bottom of the tower vary by 2.32 meters. The entire structure weighs some 7,000,000 kilograms (15,000,000 lb), supported by internal brick columns. However, the tower leans roughly 3 degrees due to the cracking of two supporting columns.

Beisi Pagoda(Chinese: 北寺塔) or North Temple Pagoda is a Chinese pagoda located at Bao'en Temple in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China. It rises nine stories in a total height of 76 m (243 ft). It is the tallest Chinese pagoda south of the Yangtze river.

The Suzhou Industry Park (SIP) is the largest cooperation project between China and Singapore Government. It is located beside the beautiful Jinji Lake, which lies to the east of Suzhou Old city. On 26 February 1994, Vice Premier Li Lanqing and Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew represented China and Singapore respectively in signing the Agreement to jointly develop Suzhou Industrial Park. The project officially commenced on 12 May in the same year. SIP has a total jurisdiction area of 288 km2, of which, the China-Singapore cooperation area covers 80 km2 with a planned residential population of 1.2 million.

Suzhou Industrial Park Export Processing Zone

The Suzhou Industrial Park Export Processing Zone was approved to be established by the government in April 2000, with a planning area of 2.9 km2. It is located in Suzhou Industrial Park set up by China and Singapore. Inside the Export Processing Zone, all the infrastructures are of high-standard. With the information platform and electronic methods, all the customs declaration and other procedures can be handled on line. Investors can enjoy many preferential policies.

Suzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone

The Suzhou Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone was established in 1990. In Nov. 1992, the zone was approved to be the national-level hi-tech industrial zone. By the end of 2007, foreign-invested companies had a total registered capital worth of USD 13 billion, of which USD 6.8 billion was paid in. SND hosts now more than 1,500 foreign companies. Some 40 Fortune 500 companies set up 67 projects in the district.

Suzhou is the second largest industrial city (next to Shanghai) in China and also the second largest city among the cities in Yangtze Delta.

Suzhou is conveniently located on the Jinghu Railway linking Shanghai and Nanjing, the provincial capital, and to each there is hourly railway service. Suzhou Railway Station is among the busiest passenger stations in China, having 139 trains stopping daily. The station is currently being renovated and expanded to serve the needs of the future. It will possibly have a design similar to the Shanghai South Railway Station and Beijing South Railway Station. D-series trains take about 45 minutes to Shanghai and 1-1/2 hour to Nanjing. A new G-series high speed train is in operation since July 2010, and it only takes about 25 minutes for the top speed train among all the G-series to travel to Shanghai Hongqiao station. However, the price of the G-series ticket is twice than that of the D-series. The price of the G-series second class is about 40RMB ($6 US).
Expressway and highway

The Jiangsu-Shanghai Expressway connects Suzhou with Shanghai, alternatively, there is also the Yangtze Riverine Expressway and 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. China National Highway 312 also passes through Suzhou.
Air Transport

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 conducted primarily at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport and Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

 Water Transport

By water, Suzhou is connected with Zhangjiagang, Luzhi, Liujia, Changshou and Shimonoseki, Japan.

There are also some small rivers in the city serving as touristing lines.

The Suzhou Metro is currently being constructed, it consist of two independent lines, one running East<->West and one running North<->South serving Suzhou Industrial Park and Wuzhong Dirstrict. Two lines are scheduled to open in 2011.


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 by the pipa and sanxian) with portions in spoken dialect.

Handicrafts: Suzhou embroidery, fans, Chinese 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.

Suzhou Gardens: Gardens in Suzhou have an ancient history. The first garden in Suzhou belonged to the emperor of Wu State in Spring and Autumn Period (BC 600). More than 200 gardens existed in Suzhou between 16th century and 18th century. Gardens in Suzhou were built according to the style of Chinese Paintings. Every view in a garden can be seen as a piece of Chinese Painting and the whole garden is a huge piece of Chinese Paintings. At present, the Humble Administrator's Garden, built in 16th, is the largest private garden in Suzhou. It belonged to by Wang Xianchen, an imperial censor.
Suzhou embroidery together with embroidery of Hunan, Sichuan and Guangdong are called as the "Four Famous Embroideries". Suzhou tapestry method is done in fine silks and gold thread. Other art forms found in this area are sculpture, Song brocade, jade and rosewood carving.

The Suzhou Museum has a rich collection of relics from many eras. The collection includes revolutionary records, stele carving, folk customs, drama and verse, Suzhou embroidery, silk cloth, gardens, coins and Buddhist artifacts.


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