Xitang Travel Guide

The ancient town of Xitang is situated in Jiashan County, under the jurisdiction of Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province. Some 90 km away from Shanghai and 110 km from Hangzhou, Xitang sits at the junction of China's three economic giants - Zhejiang provinces. One of the town's geographic advantages is its comprehensive network of land and water transport systems. Nine waterways meet within the town proper, cutting the town into eight pieces connected by numerous bridges. The town's Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynastic architecture is well preserved and of high artistic and technical research value. Xitang is also renowned for its many bridges, small lanes and riverside canopies.

Xitang City, Xitang Travel Guide

Up until 1998, there were 104 old bridges, all of which were built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. These include the bridges of Anren, Anjing, Anshan, Wufu, Qingning, Wolong and Laifeng. Most of them were single- or triple-arched wooden beam bridges with stone piers. The Wufu (Five-Bliss) Bridge was built during the Ming dynasty and renovated during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing dynasty. This single-arched bridge with a stepped floor is 14 meters long and 7.5 meters wide. Built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing dynasty, the Wolong (Crouching Dragon) Bridge is a single-arched stone bridge 31.46 meters long, 4.95 meters wide and 5.5 meters high, the highest of its kind in Xitang. There are 32 steps on the bridge's east slope and 30 on the west.

Alleys snaking around residential complexes are another distinctive feature of this ancient town. The most famous alley is called "Stone-Paved Lane." It is 68 meters long and only a meter wide, paved with 216 slabs of stone, but “Stone-Paved Lane” isn't the narrowest to be found. This honor goes to two alleys. One can be found at Li House. It's so narrow that only one person can pass through at a time, and they must be turned sideways. The other, called "Wildcat Lane," is barely 30 cm wide. Located at the west end of Huanxiu Bridge, it is actually a passage that separates two houses. By contrast, in the widest of Xitang's alleys five and a half people can stand shoulder to shoulder. This alley is also located by the Li House, near Shaoxianggang. The shortest of the town's alleyways, only 3 meters long, is found in the complex of Yuqing Residence. The longest, the Sixian (Four-Sage) Temple Lane, is 236 meters long and it runs off Beishan Street.

Covering most of the town's riverside walks, Xitang's canopies add to the attraction of this beautiful town. The canopies provide much needed shelter from the sun and the rain, and provide perfect seating on the benches along the river walks. Most of the road canopies, 2 to 2.5 meters wide, are wooden-famed structures with tiled roofs. End to end, the canopies stretch for a total of over 1,000 meters.

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