Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven ancient capitals of China. It was described by Italian traveller Marco Polo as the finest and most luxurious city in the world. The West Lake scenic area contains over 60 cultural relic sites and several attractions of natural beauty, and a cruise on the lake is a good option to view several sites. Hangzhou is also a good place to visit a tea plantation.
West Lake, World Heritage Site in Hangzhou
Among the world’s best rated lakes, Hangzhou’s wondrous West Lake cannot be rivaled. The real attraction of West Lake, however, lies not on the surface, but in its abundant wealth of legend, myth, and enigma accumulated over various dynasties. Throughout China, there is no other lake which has caught the imagination of so many poets, scholars, painters, sculptors, calligraphers and even emperors over so long a time. Blessed with enchanting natural scenery and an enduring cultural legacy immortalized by a multitude of poems, calligraphy masterpieces, paintings and sculptures, West Lake’s boundless charm is not only a visual spectacle, but also an experience felt by the heart.
Leifeng Pagoda is an octagonal five-storied wood-and-brick pagoda located on Sunset Hill south of West Lake. It’s the landmark of Hangzhou which is of great historical and cultural importance, and noted as one of Ten Scenes of West Lake , as well as has a deep connection with popular legends. The original pagoda was erected in 975 AD during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period.
Southern Song Imperial Street
Southern Song Imperial Street is a main avenue paved in the Southern Song Dynasty. According to documentary records, more than 10,000 flagstones were used. The street stretches from the intersection of Wansong Mountain and Phoenix Hill Road , passing through Zhongshan Road M. and N., to the intersection of Fengqi Road and Wulin Road, and was once the central axis of Linan city in the Southern Song Dynasty, as long as 4185 meters. It was also the specific road for emperors to worship ancestors.
Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge
Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge is one of “Top Ten Views of West Lake”
The Broken Bridge is located at the east end of the Bai Causeway that separates the Inner Lake and the Outer Lake. The bridge is of a single-arch vaulted stone construction with stone balustrades on both sides. To its east is a pavilion that houses a stone tablet with the imperial inscription, “Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge.” Beside it and facing the bridge stands a lakeside pavilion with vermilion pillars and ornate beams. It offers a nice view of the Inner Lake and the Solitary Hill. The Broken Bridge isn’t actually broken, and it’s as complete as any other. It’s called Broken Bridge because in the winter, when the sun comes out after a couple of day’s snowfall, the snow on the sunny side of the bridge melts first, while the snow on the shady side still lingers. Thus from a distance, the bridge appears to be broken.
Hefang Street, as one of the best preserved urban areas of ancient Hangzhou, is a snapshot of the city’s history. Hangzhou was China’s capital during the Southern Song Dynasty more than 800 years ago, and Hangzhou’s urban Hefang Street has many shops, restaurants and taverns that represent its place in history. Hefang Street has stood the test of time, surviving through the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties. Today it is still a prosperous marketplace. Most of the businesses and shops in Hefang Street are over 100 years old. Hefang Street wasn’t only the heart of old Hangzhou but was also the commercial center in ancient China. Walking along Hefang Street, you can enjoy shopping and snacking. Known also as the Snack Street for the diverse food it served. Hefang Old Street also displays a variety of unique Chinese crafts, such as land-blown sugar candy, paper-cutting, and hand-made dough figurines. You’ll also find a large variety of local snacks, such as roasted walnuts and “dragon-whisker” candy. The street is full of art hawkers, candy sculptors, pillow shops, caricaturists, old-fashioned movie players, storytellers, bonsai shops, teahouses, and an array of small eateries, making Hefang Street come alive with charm and whimsy.
The pork is stewed along with vinegar, scallion, ginger, and sugar, in a sealed casserole pot over a low heat. It’s as soft as tofu but not fragile, glutinous but not greasy.
Shelled Shrimps with Dragon Well Green Tea
Combining succulent shelled shrimps with freshly picked Dragon Well tea leaves results in a much sought-after Hangzhounese dish, a local specialty both highly recommended and swimming in flavour.
Beggar’s Chicken is one of Hangzhou’s 36 Famous Dishes to have been acknowledged by Zhejiang Province in 1956. The origin of this dish is unknown but according to folklore it is attributed to a beggar in ancient times who was driven by cold and hunger to steal a chicken. With neither the tools nor the means to cook the chicken the beggar, hungry and upset, wrapped the un-plucked chicken with mud and straw and then roasted it in a campfire. When the chicken was ready it tasted extremely delicious and its extraordinary aroma traveled for miles and miles.