Zhouzhuang, China, located between Shanghai and Suzhou, is a marvelous place of art and architecture. Two-thirds of the architecture in this canal town dates back to the Yuan (1271-1368), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Temples and houses line the zigzagging streams that cut through the town, and 14 arched bridges enable people to travel within the city walls on foot. The canals are responsible for the city's survival: during times of war, they were effective defenses against invading forces.
Recently, Zhouzhuang has become a tourist attraction for people seeking escape from modern Chinese cities. Once inside the walls of the town, you feel you've gone back into the past. Some plain-looking buildings have entire temples just inside their exterior walls. Small restaurants line the streams, and boat tours are available along the main waterways.
Out toward the edge of town, reflecting pools surround temples that are accessible by long arched bridges. As you travel even further from the center of town, you find ancient-style subsistence farms.
Zhouzhuang's layout is like none other. Between streams, the roads and paths create a maze among the local neighborhoods, making it difficult for outsiders to get around. But it is well worth a visit to experience a real canal town and see the amazing temples.
On the road in Zhouzhuang, China,