Nestled on the border with Jiāngsū province, about 125km from Hángzhōu, Nánxún is a water town whose contemporary modest appearance belies its once glorious past. Established over 1400 years ago, the town came to prominence during the Southern Song dynasty due to its prospering silk industry. By the time the Ming rolled around, it was one of Zhèjiāng’s most important commercial centres. The town shares the typical features of other southern water towns – arched bridges, canals, narrow lanes and old houses – but what sets it apart is its intriguing mix of Chinese and European architecture, introduced by affluent silk merchants who once made their homes here. Nánxún today is a quiet place that remains relatively undisturbed by tourism. Plans are currently in the works, however, to restore or remove some of the old buildings along the canal and give the town a controversial face-lift to increase tourist revenue. Hopefully, even with these new developments, the peace and tranquillity of Nánxún will be preserved.