Venice of the East: Zhouzhuang, a 900-year-old city on the water


This ancient city, over 900 years old, still looks the same as it did in ancient times. Surrounded and separated by lakes and rivers, it is famous for its many stone bridges.


Entry related to location: China

Set on 118 small islands separated by canals and connected by bridges, Venice is one of the most popular cities in the world. This gem of Italy, founded in 421 AD, is one of the most romantic places on the planet and is protected by UNESCO.

In 2016, Venice was officially declared the most beautiful city in the world. Home to many art movements and once an independent city-state, Venice is unique in the way it was built. But confidence in uniqueness will dissolve before your eyes when you learn about Zhouzhuang — the Venice of the East.

venice of the east

This village is located in the southwest of China, between the cities of Suzhou and Kunshan. Known in ancient times as Zhenfang-lin, Zhouzhuang received its current name at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty.

The city was an important distribution center for silk, ceramics, arts, handicrafts and foodstuffs, mainly because it was used as a trading center by the wealthy businessman Wangsan Shen, the richest man during the Yuan Dynasty. Zhouzhuang is similar to Venice not only because of its water base, but also because it is a huge tourist attraction.


The biggest tourist attractions in Zhouzhuang are Fuan Bridge, Double Bridge and Shen Residential Building. The first bridge was built in 1355 and today is the only surviving structure of its kind. The second, Double Bridge, connects two bridges, forming a single whole.

See also: A selection of cities and villages on the water

As for the Shen Residential Building, this is the biggest attraction of all. This structure on the southeast side of the Fu’an Bridge was erected in 1742 as the private property of the descendants of Wangsan Shen, the aforementioned first millionaire south of the Yangtze River. The entire complex is built in the Qing style and covers an area of ​​7,000 square meters.

bridges in zhouzhuan

Shen’s house has more than 100 rooms, divided into three parts, each of which is connected by passages and galleries. The first part is the water gate, where the Shen family washed clothes and moored boats. The second includes the main hall, the gate tower and the tea room. The last section consists of several buildings built in a different style. This section contains cultural relics and a sculpture of the legendary businessman Wanshan Shen.

All houses in Zhouzhuang are built on the banks of the river, connected by bridges and streets. Each family in the water town has its own pier. Here, tourists are greeted with delicious food, such as wansan pork, named after an ancient businessman. Another delicacy offered in local taverns is Sunway rice balls, a dish that every family in the village prepares.


Tourists wishing to visit Zhouzhuang must pay a fee of 100 yuan per person per day, which is equivalent to about 15 US dollars. The ticket entitles you to visit the area of ​​the ancient city and all tourist attractions. Boat trips are also organized in the city, on which tourists go on a trip along narrow channels.

boat tour

The China National Tourism Administration has given Zhouzhuang the highest rating, placing it among the most important attractions in Chinese history. With all this in mind, Zhouzhuang is definitely worth a visit.

See also: Giethoorn — a village without roads