Shantang Jie

Street in Sūzhōu

This picturesque canalside street has been in use for more than a thousand years, having been built in the Tang dynasty (around 825-826) to transport Sūzhōu’s upper classes to Tiger Hill for leisurely outings. Nowadays, it is pedestrianised and, in fine weather, makes for a wonderful way to stroll to Tiger Hill. Shantang Jie is very similar in feeling to Pingjiang Lu, with whitewashed buildings backing directly onto the canal and quaint lantern-decorated bridges.

Past the tourist shops and restaurants at the end nearest the metro station, the northern end of the street becomes very quiet and offers a lovely look at how people traditionally live by the side of Sūzhōu’s canals. Keep a look out for the seven stone cats guarding the street's bridges and representing different auspicious aspects of life, from wealth to happiness. It is said that Qing Emperor Qianlong, who visited Sūzhōu many times, was so taken by Shantang Jie that he a replica of it built in the imperial garden of Běijīng’s Summer Palace.