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Suzhou is located in the south of Jiangsu province, some 50 miles west of Shanghai, along the old Grand Canal. The city has been famous for its gardens for many centuries. According to a Chinese proverb says: “In heaven there is paradise. On earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” The city is dotted with lakes and ponds connected by a spider's web of canals. And all the canals are lined with whitewashed houses with gray-tiled roofs.

Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is one of the oldest towns in the Yangtze Basin. It was founded in the fifth century B.C., when the King of Wu, He Lu, made it the capital of his Kingdom. The King is said to be buried on Tiger Hill, a well-known landmark. The town inherited its current name in 589, in the Sui Dynasty, and underwent considerable development in the Tang and Song dynasties. As early as the Song Dynasty, Suzhou had about the same size as it is today. Some of the city’s famous gardens were first established in those days as well, when Suzhou had already become famous for silk weaving. 

Many of the famous gardens built as early as the 10th century are still intact, and some have been restored to their former beauty. A visit to these gardens could be one of the highlights of one’s visit to China.

The unique characteristics of the past are still retained in present-day Suzhou. The double-chessboard layout of Suzhou, with 'the streets and rivers go side by side while the water and land routes run in parallel', are preserved basically intact. Strolling the streets, you can feel the unique lingering charm of this landscape left by its long history.