Xitang Ancient Water Town, about one and half hours'
drive from Shanghai, is a beautiful town that seems like a
completely different world from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai.
Cobbled streets, old buildings, bridges arching over canals, rowing
boats lingering on the river, locals singing folk songs, this is
Xitang, a charming, ancient water town. Mornings in Xitang bring
fresh air and light fog; during the evening, the setting sun casts
a rosy glow on the old tiled roofs. It truly is a world away.
Something that makes Xitang so special is the number of bridges.
There are 104 in total, built in varying styles spanning the Ming
and Qing Dynasties. Some looks like rainbows over the river and
others like long flutes. Life for Xitang locals is calm and easy,
full of comfort and peace, no difference from the lifestyle of
their ancestors thousands of years ago.
The elderly play with their grandchildren on the bridges and in the
lanes, and women wash vegetables and clothes in the rivers running
beside their houses. If you need a break from the stresses of
Shanghai, there's really no better place to chill out and
experience the quieter side of Chinese life.
Ancient time-worn streets crisscross xitang town. In total, there
are about 122 small lanes in Xitang Town, all of which were paved
with stone slats. Line along these lanes are these
hundreds-years-old houses which still home to the locals. Of all
the 122 lanes, the shipi lane is the best preserved. It is situated
at the west side of zhongfu hall in the west street, with a total
length of 68 meters.
The lane is about 1 meter at the widest but the narrowest point is
only 80 centimeters. It is paved with 166 stone planks which are
only 3 centimeters thick, which is really hard to be chisel from
the granite. That is why it is called shipi (the skin of the stone)
lane. Walking through these long quiet lanes with stained tall
walls is just like traveling through the town's long history in a
In the garden, trees, grass, flowers, towers, bridges, lakes,
waterfalls are harmoniously integrated.
Xue's House is a typical wooden building of the rich merchant of
that region in the later Qing dynasty.
The bridge was built in the Song dynasty more than a thousand years
ago. The name of bridge is associated with an interesting legend
that one Taoist once stood on the bridge to watch immortal spirits.
Wangxian means to watch immortal spirits in English.