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Home Chinese Cities and Province Information Jiangsu Province Suzhou

China City and Province Information

Suzhou Basics
  Area (City) 178 square km
  Area (Metro) 8,488 square km
Population: 6.3 million (844,000 in urban area)
Coordinates: 30°46'-32°02'N  120°11'-121°16'E
Local Time:  
January Average  Temperature: 3.1°C (37.58°F)
July Average  Temperature: 28.2°C (82.76°F)
Average Frost Free Days: 233 days/ year
Average Elevation: 4 meters
Annual Rainfall: 1,094 mm
Annual Sunshine: 1,965 hours
Phone Area Code: 0512
Postal Code: 215000
A Brief Introduction of Suzhou

Suzhou is located in the south of Jiangsu province, some 50 miles west of Shanghai, along the old Grand Canal. The city has been famous for its gardens for many centuries. According to a Chinese proverb says: “In heaven there is paradise. On earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Suzhou has also long been noted for its beautiful women. The city is dotted with lakes and ponds connected by a spider's web of canals. And all the canals are lined with whitewashed houses with gray-tiled roofs.

The canals of the town eventually join up with the famous local waterway known as the Grand Canal, located to the west of the city. It is believed to be the largest internal waterway in the world, and was originally constructed to carry tribute grain from the Yangzi plain to the capital. Marco Polo, who visited Suzhou in the 13th century, wrote that “the great Khan... has made a huge canal of great width and depth from river to river and from lake to lake and made the water flow along it so that it looks like a big river. By this means it is possible to go ... as far as Khan-balik” (as Beijing was known in the Yuan Dynasty). Although the canal is not used for long-distance transport today, it is still heavily used by a great number of flat-bottomed boats under sail and engine power conveying agricultural produce to nearby towns.

The Grand Canal
Suzhou is one of the oldest towns in the Yangzi basin. It was founded in the fifth century B.C., when the King of Wu, He Lu, made it the capital of his Kingdom. The King is said to be buried on Tiger Hill, a well-known landmark.

The town inherited its current name in 589, in the Sui Dynasty, and underwent considerable development in the Tang and Song dynasties. As early as the Song Dynasty, Suzhou had about the same size as it is today. Some of the city’s famous gardens were first established in those days as well, when Suzhou had already become famous for silk weaving.

Many of the famous gardens built as early as the 10th century are still intact, and some have been restored to their former beauty. A visit to these gardens could be one of the highlights of one’s visit to China. (Click for more about the Beijing - Hangzhou Grand Canal)

Tiger Hill
Tiger Hill, or Hu Qiu, a few miles northwest of the town, is very popular among visitors. It is supposedly the burial place of the King of Wu.

Two different reasons are given for the name of the hill. One is that the entrance gate resembles the mouth of a tiger, and the pagoda on the top of the hill its tail. The other is that when the King of Wu was buried on top of the hill, a tiger is said to have appeared there.

On top of the hill is an imposing structure--the pagoda of the Yun Yan (Cloud Rock) Temple built in 961. It is listed as one of the special historical sites under State protection. The temple courtyard is the highest point on the hill and commands a grand view.

Cold Mountain Temple (Hanshansi)
The temple is located on the outskirts of Suzhou on a small canal crossed by an old humpbacked bridge. Green foliage hangs down over the saffron walls. The beautiful scenery has inspired many poets throughout history to write memorable poems. In fact, it owes its fame to the poem “Overnight Stay at Feng Qiao” by Zhang Ji, a Tang Dynasty poet.

The temple's name comes from the hermit Han Shan, a Buddhist poet, sometime during the Tang Dynasty.

Pagodas in Suzhou
Suzhou has many pagodas, the most conspicuous being the twin pagodas at the Twin Pagoda Temple, or Shuangtasi. The temple no longer exists, and the site is now occupied by a school.

On the outskirts of town, in the southwest, one can find the Temple of Good Omen Light, or Ruiguangsita. The temple no longer exists. Only the seven-story brick pagoda remains.
Another pagoda stands beside what was once the Temple of Gratitude, or Paoensi, also known as the Northern Temple, or Bei Si. The temple was founded in the third century A.D., and has since been destroyed and rebuilt several times. All that remains today is the nine-story pagoda thought to date from the 13th century.

Gardens in Suzhou
Suzhou is best known for its landscaped gardens, over 150 of them. Suzhou’s gardens are not known for their size, but their delicate designs, containing hills and ponds, terraces, corridors, towers, and almost everything that is needed in an “imperial garden.” Among them, the Liu Garden, which covers about 10 acres, is the largest and one of the most attractive. It was one of the few gardens that escaped destruction during the Taiping Rebellion in the mid-19th century.

The garden was first laid out during the Ming Dynasty by a civil servant who also had the West Garden, or Xi Yuan, constructed.

Jinji Lake Scenic Spot, Suzhou
Situated close to Suzhou Industrial District, Jinji Lake is a beautiful scenic spot, featuring a maple forest, music fountain, water screen movies all amid other natural and cultural settings. It is a good illustration of urban ecological preservation and leisure tourism.

From 2002 to 2004, the city of Suzhou city updated 48 free scenic spots along both sides of the river. Take a boat ride and you will find yourself float in a roll of paintings.
(source: China Internet Information Center)



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23 Provinces

5 Autonomous Regions

2 Special Administrative Regions (SAR)

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