Ancient city of classical gardens and historic silk industry
For people who are keen to explore China's charming past, stunning present and bright future, Suzhou, a city with more than 2,500 years' of history should not be missed.
One of the city's highlights is the ancient Suzhou gardens, a series of classical Chinese gardens that first came about during the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC) and reached a peak of 271 gardens during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).
It is believed that the ancient gardens in Suzhou, which feature miniature natural landscapes, represent the highest level of classical Chinese garden design.
There are more than 60 well-preserved ancient gardens in Suzhou. One of them, Canglang Pavilion, with a history traced back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) is also a place to experience the renowned Kunqu Opera, one of the oldest existing forms of Chinese opera developed in the city. The ancient classic memoir, Six Chapters of a Floating Life, written by writer Shen Fu (1763-1825) in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was staged in the garden.
Set in Canglang Pavilion, a new immersive Kunqu Opera performance describes the life story of Shen Fu, and allows the audience to walk with the performers in the garden while listening to Kunqu Opera.
Some journalists who participated in an overseas media tour in April attended a performance and said it was an interesting way to learn about Kunqu Opera.
Suzhou is also famous for its silk embroidery, silk farming and spinning. Zhenze town is believed to be the cradle of the silk industry in China and has become famous nationwide.
The town's silk-related agriculture, production and tourism have thrived for thousands of years. It reached its peak during Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty, when Zhenze produced one-third of all silk products in China.
Nowadays, visitors can enjoy the town's mulberry fields, take part in picking mulberries, learn about farming silkworms, taste local snacks and experience the local folk customs.
Innovation has become a key part of the local silk industry in recent years. With more than 10 years' of development, there are more than 160 silk companies in Zhenze. A complete industrial chain covering silkworm breeding, reeling off raw silk from cocoons, production, operation and service sectors has been developed.
Suzhou Shanshui Silk Company in Zhenze town has received recognition from global customers with their products being used at many important events, such as the Shanghai Expo in 2010. The company was designated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide customized silk clothes for officials worldwide in 2013.
In recent years, Shanshui Silk has enhanced cooperation with overseas companies, including those in Russia, Japan, Australia and the United States, in silk culture and techniques sectors. It has set up four overseas silk product exhibition centers.
Zhenze ancient town in Suzhou was famous for silk production in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).Provided To China Daily
Kunqu Opera is one of the oldest forms of Chinese opera developed in Suzhou.Sun Jian/for China Daily