History and Culture | Hangzhou Travel Tips
History and Culture
History and Culture
Known as ‘Heaven on Earth’ and one of China’s seven ancient capitals, history in Hangzhou dates back thousands of years. Flip back 7000 years to one of the first civilisations to cultivate rice; 5000 years and you will find the last ancient jade carving civilisation in the Yangtze River Delta; About 2200 years ago, the city of Hangzhou is officially founded by Emperor Qin Shi Huang; while 1100 years ago sees the city entering its golden age as the centre of the Southern Song Dynasty.

Its first Western visitor – Marco Polo arriving during this zenith – describes it as ‘the most beautiful and magnificent in the world’. Poets, politicians, and philosophers came to visit; mesmerised, they stayed for the rest of their lives. In the words of famed Song Dynasty literary master and statesman Su Dongpo, Hangzhou is ‘always alluring’.

Today, Hangzhou’s illustrious past still gleams in the reflection of its celebrated waters. The pearl that is West Lake, shrouded in legend, paints a different picture depending on where you are standing and when.

Names like Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge and Lotus in the Wind in Crooked Courtyard evoke just some of the romantic stories engraved against the lake’s numerous scenic views. The classic world-renowned dramas of The Butterfly Lovers and Madam White Snake have their beautiful origins and tragic endings here, which is why Hangzhou is also China’s capital of love.

West of West Lake sprawls Xixi wetlands, with 1800 years of history in its dense tapestry of crisscrossing waterways.

What began as an ancient lake at the southern tip of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, incidentally also the oldest and longest in the world, was transformed into pockets of human activity – farmers rearing fish, silkworms and seasonal agriculture, poets and artists seeking common inspiration in Plum Bamboo Manor, Buddhist monks praying in small but significant temples such as Fall Snow Temple, and annual dragon boat festivals in Deep Pond, a pool fabled to be so deep that a dragon resides within.

Other Tips

Art/Cultural Stops

Hangzhou’s famous Legend of the White Snake comes to life in a flurry of costumes, with the West Lake as its natural stage.

Sundowners & Nightlife

A night out in Hangzhou has much to offer.