Zhujiajiao, one of the best-preserved Chinese water towns, is often called the “Venice of Shanghai.”
Back from another extended stay in endlessly fascinating and ever-changing Shanghai, I’m posting another installment of some of the social, cultural, culinary, and travel highlights.
Zhujiajiao, founded more than 1,700 years ago, was an important trading center during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.
Its impressive canal system was originally built for irrigation and travel. Today it is a town of 60,000 with gondolas, arched bridges, centuries-old architecture, and picturesque lanes that give it an enduring charm.
On my first visit, a bicycle trip, our guide told us not even to try to pronounce the name, which sounds like “jew ja je-ow.” I’ve returned a few times, most recently for a day of photographing capped off by a private viewing of Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun‘s musical production Water Heavens.
Located just 30 miles from central Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is one of the many ancient water towns that dot the landscape of the Yangtze Delta.
Tranquil Zhujiajiao is a mere 50-minute ride but a world away from Shanghai, with its cobblestone lanes, traditional homes, temples, and tree-lined canals.