Located on the Hangjiahu (Hangzhou-Jiaxing-Huzhou) Plain of the Yangtze River Delta, to the east of Huzhou City in northern Zhejiang Province and adjacent to Suzhou City of Jiangsu Province, Nanxun Ancient Town once was the richest among the six ancient towns in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang area. Compared with the other five, including Zhouzhuang, Tongli, Luzhi, Xitang and Wuzhen, it is very special for its unique combination of western and Chinese cultures. The Changhusheng (Changxing-Huzhou-Shanghai) Channel, the so called “Oriental Rhine” runs through the town. Only 1 hour’s drive from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, it is said to be the rear garden of these big cities.
Nanxun Ancient Town, known as the ‘the land of fish and rice’ and ‘silk market’, is a charming tourist destination. A large number of ancient houses, gardens and other ancient buildings are well preserved, such as the famous garden – Little Lotus Garden, the famous private library – Jia Ye Tang, the One-Hundred Residential Houses of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the famous Yangtze River mansion – Zhang Shiming’s Former Residence, etc. Bridges running over rippling rivers, white walls and dancing green willows form an authentic landscape. The harmony and unity between culture and natural scenery as well as the combination of Chinese antiquity and western architecture, make the town fascinating.
The town can be divided into three parts. A visiting route is recommended below:
Little Lotus Garden → Jia Ye Tang Library → Chongde House → Guanghui Taoist Temple → Nanxun History Museum → Qiushuli Villa → Zhang Shiming’s Former Residence → Zhang Jingjiang’s Former Residence → One-Hundred Residential Houses
The First Part
Located in the middle part of the town, the Little Lotus Garden, Jia Ye Tang Library and other attractions are of great visiting value.
Little Lotus Garden
Little Lotus Garden, also known as ‘Liu’s Garden’, was built by three generations of Liu Yong (used to be the richest person in the town) for over 40 years. Surrounded by clear creeks and green woods, Little Lotus Garden is a garden with idyllic beauty. In the garden, there are special rocks, fan pavilion, stone arches, rockery, bamboo, etc. There is a corridor comprised of dozens of ancient camphors in the west part of the garden. Another distinguishing feature is the lotus pools around the garden covering 10 acres (5,400 square feet), with verandas of Chinese style and spire towers of western style on the bank.
Jia Ye Tang Library
Across a river from Little Lotus Garden lies the Jia Ye Tang Library, built from 1920 to 1924 by Liu Chenggan, the grandson of Liu Yong and a famous bibliophile of the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is a private library with the largest scale and the richest collection. The library contains 600,000 rolls of books (a total of 160,000 volumes), many of which are rare; some even are the only existing copies.
The Second Part
This refers to the area of the South City River and the adjacent streets. This part is the most fascinating region with the richest attractions as below. Celebrity old houses, the traditional streets and quiet South City River set you in a beautiful picture.
Chongde House, also known as the Liu’s Former Residence or the Red House, is the old house of Liu An, the third son of Liu Yong. The entire building is divided into three parts, the southern, the middle and the northern parts. The central building reveals traditional Confucian ideas, while the southern and northern parts are Romanesque buildings, which were very rare in this small town a hundred years ago, reflecting the character of pursuing fashion.
Guanghui Taoist Temple
Also known as Zhangwang Temple, established in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), it is a famous Taoist temple with a history of more than 900 years. It has experienced prosperity and decline in its long history. The temple was reconstructed in 2003. The original features of the temple are partly restored. It is now regarded as Taoist architecture heritage reflecting a long history and regional culture of Nanxun.
Nanxun History Museum
It consists of three buildings of Chinese and western mixed architectural styles. There displays many books and objects showing the history and changes of the ancient own from 1252 in the late Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279).
Qiushuli Villa was built in 1930 by Liu Chenggan, the owner of Jia Ye Tang Library. It is also a mixture of Chinese and western architecture. Qiushuli used to function as a residence as well as a library management office. Now there exhibits the photography works by Liu Xucang, the younger brother of Liu Chenggan and a modern photographic artist.
Zhang Shiming’s Former Residence
Zhang Shiming’s Former Residence, honored as the first mansion of Southern Yangtze River Region, was built by Zhang Junheng, the grandson of Zhang Songxian, one of the richest people in Nanxun during the Qing Dynasty. Located in the West Street of the town, covering an area of 4,792 square meters (52,000 square feet), the entire building consists of 150 houses in southern traditional architecture pattern with western features. Its quirky style, magnificent structure, and exquisite workmanship, especially the fine carvings made from wood, brick, stone and flowery glass from France, have very high art appreciation, architectural and heritage value.
The Third Part
This part refers to the northeastern part of East Street, which was originally the biggest commercial street in the town and now a large number of well-preserved century-old shops still line the street. To the south is the City River, and to the north lies the Zhang Jingjiang’s Former Residence. One-Hundred Residential Houses is also an important attraction there.
Zhang Jingjiang’s Former Residence
Zhang Jingjiang (1877 – 1950), a miraculous person who was honored as a Revolution Saint. His former residence is a typical traditional Chinese building complex, with tall walls and deep courtyards. Inside the residence, the most famous exhibit is the handwriting carved on gingko wood by Dong Qichang, a brilliant calligrapher in Ming Dynasty.
One-Hundred Residential Houses
One-Hundred Residential Houses is the best preserved traditional building group in southern China, with a total length of 400 meters (1,300 feet) and a history of 400 years. It is said to be built by Dong Fen, the Minister of Rites of the Ming Dynasty for his family. These arcade buildings with white walls and black tiles were built along the river and connected by archways. Some bridges were constructed to link the buildings on the two banks of the river.
In addition to these attractions, what you should not miss is the food, such as the freshwater fishes cooked by the locals and wild water chestnut cakes.
|Admission Fee||CNY 100 / person including the fee of nine attractions (Jia Ye Tang Library, Little Lotus Garden, Zhang Shiming’s Former Residence, Zhang Jingjiang’s Former Residence, Chongde House, Guanghui Taoist Temple, One-Hundred Residential Houses, Qiushuli and Nanxun History Museum). The cruise ships charge CNY 100 per 15 minutes.|
|Opening Hours||7:20 – 18:00 (from May 1st to Oct. 7)
7:20 – 17:30 (from Oct. 8 to the next Apr.)
|Transportation||1. There are coach shuttles from Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo and other places to this ancient town;
2. Visitors from Shanghai take A9 and change to Express of Shensuzhewan (Shanghai-Suzhou-Zhejiang-Anhui), it takes about 1 hour;
3. Visitors from Hangzhou take the Express of Hang Ning, and change to Express of Shen Su Zhe Wan in Huzhou;
4. Visitors from Ningbo please take Hangzhou Bay Bridge, and take Express of Sujiahang (Suzhou-Jiaxing-Hangzhou) and change to Shenjiahu (Shanghai-Jiaxing-Huzhou), and take Highway of Huyan (Huzhou-Haiyan).