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Liangxi ancient canal, a window for the world to understand the culture of the Grand Canal

Ancient canal in Liangxi (PRNewsfoto/Information Office of Liangxi District People's Government)

The Qingming Bridge Ancient Canal Scenic Area in Liangxi District, the center of Wuxi City, is recommended to foreigners who want to have a quick look at the link between the Grand Canal that runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and China’s history and future.

Though predominantly linear, the Grand Canal forms a unique pattern that encircles the city when it runs through Wuxi. Since the Yuan Dynasty, Wuxi has emerged as the waterway transportation hub of the Jiangnan area, transporting rice, silk and money, contributing to the economic development and the rise of commerce and industry in China. Where the canal was narrow, residents on both sides could speak to each other across their windows. Therefore, the Wuxi section of the Grand Canal is also hailed as the “water alley”, providing the best viewpoint of water town and serving as the best window to enjoy the cultural heritage of the Grand Canal, built over 2,400 years ago, according to the Information Office of Liangxi District People’s Government.

Standing on the Qingming Bridge, visitors can see that with the Grand Canal as the central axis, the shadow of boats, ancient bridges, and the ancient temples and houses on both sides, add beauty to each other, forming a natural “gallery of the ancient canal”. On a boat, visitors can also see grey herons standing on the shore, forming a harmonious picture in which downtown and nature coexist with each other.

Nowadays, the canal has been transformed into an Instagram-worthy location that offers visitors more scenes, including 3D light shows and opera performances. Focusing on the night economy since 2020, Liangxi District has rolled out night shopping, night food, night show, and other night economic activities that revolve around the Grand Canal. To reduce the noise and exhaust pollution brought by oil-powered boats, Liangxi District has also launched new energy boats that can offer visitors an immersive tour with their cabins accommodating up to 20 people and equipped with wireless charging boards, intelligent desktop screens, holographic projectors, etc.

On top of the Qingming Bridge, visitors may find more about Jiangnan through the many other historical sites that Liangxi District offers, such as the Donglin Academy, Nanchan Temple.