Lǐzhuāng Gǔzhèn


The old town covers just a couple of square kilometres, with all the main sights between the bus stop and the river. Entry to the main temples and courtyard residences requires a ticket, but visitors are free to amble the streets and surrounding paddies, and enjoy the tranquil riverside promenade.

Among the old town's important sights is Xizi Xiang (席子巷), a narrow lane named for the craftsman who wove grass sleeping mats here. The two-storey, wooden houses on either side are characteristic of architecture from 400 years ago, with wide eaves that nearly touch their neighbours. To the east, a towering gate welcomes you at the Jade Buddha Temple (玉佛寺), built by Fujian arrivals in 1845. By the river on Bingjiang Lu, the windows of the 200-year-old Zhang Family Ancestral Hall (张家祠) are adorned with 50 pairs of intricately carved red-crowned cranes. Between 1937 and 1942, the hall and the Huiguang Temple (蕙光寺), the architectural masterpiece downriver, secreted many of China's most precious cultural relics. Villagers gave refuge to scholars and thousands of works of art, literature, history and science during the Japanese invasion.

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