Tongli Water Town
Tongli is an aged town only a short drive from Suzhou, which is about an hour drive outside of Shanghai. Tongli is over 1000 years old and has only recently been changed into a tourist attraction. The town is characterized by stone bridges and well preserved ancient architecture including private gardens, temples and houses.
There are 15 small river lanes throughout the town and 49 stone bridges in a variety of styles. Bridges play an important role in the town. The most famous bridges among the 49 bridges in Tongli are the three bridges called Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges, which are important landmarks and regarded as sacred architecture by the locals. During important occasions, such as weddings, people walk over the three bridges, as they are believed to bring peace, fortune and happiness in their lives.
Fortunately, many buildings from the Ming and Qing Dynasties have been well preserved and only add to the town’s historically rich atmosphere. The traditional gardens are also well worth seeing. The Tuisi garden was built between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial official. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden are harmoniously integrated together, which is one of the reasons why this garden is so popular.