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The water village of Zhujiajiao is just an hour's drive from the busy modern centre of Shanghai, but it feels as if you are entering a whole other world, going 1700 years back in time. The many canals and rivers make this 'Venice of Shanghai' a popular day trip destination. Visitors come to enjoy a boat ride as well as to admire the picturesque traditional architecture.
There are 3 more similar water villages around Shanghai, but Zhujiajiao is the best preserved one. Here you will see some unique bridges with high arches spanning across the gently flowing water. The rivers are the main roads as transportation is predominantly by boat. Relax as you take a trip down the waterways and float among willows, temples and gardens. The hectic city life of Shanghai seems much more than an hour’s drive away.
Zhujiajiao is also known as the Pearl Stream. This is first of all a reference to the glistening water. You will also find other pearls of beauty: the village boasts 36 bridges with wonderful refined architecture, made of wood, stone and marble. The Fangsheng Bridge from 1571 is by far the largest. It spans the water with 5 arches and is richly decorated with dragon and lion ornaments.
However, there is a lot more to see than just water and bridges: the simple, historical architecture along the many alleyways is also worth a visit. Lined with shops, restaurants and houses, these alleyways also reveal temples and special gardens. The Kezhi Garden consists of 3 parts: the garden itself, an artificial hill and a hall. This is also where you will find the village’s tallest building: 4 storeys with a pavilion on top. The garden, built in 1912, is also known as the Ma Family Garden.
“The largest bridge dates back to 1571 and spans the water with 5 arches”
The Buddhist temple Yuanjin has stood for 600 years at the junction of the Caogang River and the Pearl River. The impressive structure is also known as the 'Empresses Temple' – a reference to the sculpture of the Holy Mother of Chenzhou that is found here. If the magnificent artwork in the temple inspires you, then visit the 2,000-square-metre Shanghai Y-Art Gallery in the village. Other highlights include the old Tong Tian He pharmacy and post office which dates back to the Qing dynasty.