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Xitang - Jiashan County, Zhejiang, China

Xitang, ChinaXitang, formerly known as Xietang, is a historic town in Jiashan County, Zhejiang, China. It borders Luxu Town in the north, Yaozhuang Town in the east, Ganyao Town in the southeast, and Tianning Town in the west.

As of the 2016 census it had a population of 57,400 with an area of 83.61-square-kilometre (32.28 sq mi). Xitang is a water town crisscrossed by nine rivers.

The town stretches across eight sections, linked by old-fashioned stone bridges. In the older parts of town, the buildings are set along the banks of the canals, which serve as the main transportation thoroughfares in the area.

Its history dates back to at least the Spring and Autumn period (770 BC to 476 BC) when it was located at the border of the State of Yue and Wu.

According to legend, Wu Zixu, a well-known scholar and military general ordered the digging of many canals and a pond to facilitate water transportation and to channel water to Jiashan County, and thus Xitang is also called "Xutang".

In 2001 it participated in the selection process of World Heritage sites by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

On October 8, 2003, it had been designated as a Historic Towns of China by the National Cultural Heritage Administration and Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

In February 2017, it has been categorized as an AAAAA level tourist site by the China National Tourism Administration.

As of 2013, the town is divided into 4 communities 18 villages:

Xitang, China Tangdong Community
Xijie Community
Xiyuan Community

Xitang, ChinaThe local economy is primarily based upon agriculture, tourism and local craft industry. Button production is the most famous in the area. It has 636 button production enterprises, producing more than 1600 kinds of buttons producing about 60 billion buttons annually. It is known as "Hometown of Buttons in China"

Xitang also contains numerous antique residences and temples, such as the Temple of the Seven Masters. The town has retained a tranquil ambience and a very scenic beauty, making it a very popular tourist attraction. It is frequently depicted in Chinese landscape paintings.

The town houses many bridges, lanes and covered corridors, with many of the old streets and lanes retaining their original features. In Xitang, the famous scene is the covered corridors which is nearly 1,000-metre (3,300 ft) long and of simple appearance.

It is actually a street with a roof. Some sections of the covered corridors are placed in the busiest section, while other are built along the river of streets.

Long chairs are arranged along the riverside of some covered corridors for people to have a rest. Most of them are made of bricks and wood and covered by black tiles. There are 122 lanes of varying lengths in Xitang, among which five are over a 100-metre (330 ft) long.

The most distinctive open-air lane is called "Shipi Lane" ('Stone Skin Lane') got its name for the fact that it is flanked by two residential buildings.

It was built in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties (1368 to 1911), with 68-metre (223 ft) length and 1-metre (3 ft 3 in) width, and the narrowest point at the entrance is only 0.8-metre (2 ft 7 in) wide.

It was paved with 166 stone slabs. The walls on both sides of the lane are 6-to-10-metre (20 to 33 ft) high, and are still intact.

Xitang, ChinaThe Zui Garden is situated at Tawan Street of Xitang and traces its origins to the Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644). The garden, small and unique, includes a succession of five courtyards, in which delicate rockworks and winding aisles are ingeniously arranged.

In the courtyard there is an exquisite tiny bridge made of bricks, which is ornamental and functional but allows only one person to pass through at a time.

On the wall opposite the door are carved three Chinese characters 'The Hall of Intoxicating Books', from which the garden takes its name. The hall is built by Wang Zhixi, a prominent calligrapher and painter in the Qianlong period (1735 to 1795) of the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911), whose works can still be seen in the garden.

It has been used in film and television productions - Xitang locations were featured in the final sequences of the motion picture Mission: Impossible III.

The town of Xitang is connected to two highways: G60 Shanghai-Hangzhou Expressway and S32 Shenjiahu Expressway. The National Highways G320 and G318 pass across the town.

Different rice wines are made in Xitang and sold to both locals and tourist visitors. Xitang Huangjiu translates to 'yellow wine' a Chinese alcoholic beverage from the Xitang area.

With a flat terrain and dense rivers, Xitang has a very quiet natural environment. With a bird's-eye view of the whole town, there are green waves everywhere and every family is surrounded by water.

The whole ancient water town remains poetic and picturesque - when people visit there, they feel that they suddenly have come to fictitious land of peace and happiness.

Xitang, ChinaIn July 2001, Xitang town was listed in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list. In November 2003, the town was recognized as "one of the first ten famous historical and cultural towns in China" by the Ministry of construction.

In December 2003, it was awarded "2003 World Heritage Protection Outstanding Achievement Award" by UNESCO.

On December 15, 2006, it was selected into the new catalogue of the World Cultural Heritage Tentative List in China released by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage. It has also won the honorary titles of The Most Charming Film and Television Base in Water Town"and "China's Top Ten Ancient Towns."

In February of 2017, it was rated as a National AAAAA tourist attraction - with agood location, Xitang lies at the junction of Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai, belonging to Jiashan County, Zhejiang Province.

It is 90 kilometers east of Shanghai, 9 kilometers south of Jiashan County, south of 320 National Road and Shanghai-Hangzhou-Ningbo Expressway, north of 318 National Road, with tha Shenjiahu Expressway passing through.

"The water is in the spring and autumn, the town is from the Tang and Song dynasties, the architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties, and its people from modern times" is a most appropriate summary of Xitang.

Xitang is known for its many bridges, lanes, and corridors. It is a base for experts to study the culture of Jiangnan water towns;

The pure land where the artists depict folk culture in the south of the Yangtze River; A tourist attraction for tourists to appreciate the tourism culture in the south of the Yangtze River.The land where people enjoyed a good and prosperous life and made their fortunes

Xitang, ChinaIn Xitang, it's people are kind and unsophisticated. Business here is flourishing and prosperous, with the scenery here being beautiful and various.

Ancient residences, such as Zhongfu Hall and Xue's House; old temples,such as the Seventh Master's Temple, Holy Hall and West Garden, and Dumk Garden are all places of interest, each of which has it's own beautiful story.

It's bridges have an exquisite workmanship and all of them are well preserved - thus they are of high appreciation value, highly praised as the "lying dragon over ripples, and rainbow across the river" since the ancient times.

The covered corridors of Xitang attract tourists from home and abroad for their unique graceful charms. They can be used as sunshade or as shelter against rain.

Lanes are another feature sight of the historic town of Xitang. Winding paths in the lanes lead to a secluded spot far in the deep. When reaching the end, scenery of unique beauty will instantly unfold before you.

"Riverside Folk Music", is one of the great traditions of the South Yangtze River area. The music is pleasing to ears in a fresh style, soft and graceful. When listening to the melodies in an old yard in the West Garden of Xitang, you will touch another aspect of the country romance.

If you are tired of walking in the town, you may wish to rest your feet on a boat or in a small tea house along the street, drinking a cup of fragrant tea and enjoying the sweet night.

Every evening, the "Stage on Water" will put on some traditional folk opera programs, of which the contents are so enchanted that make the audiences forget about their home.

Xitang, ChinaNanshe is a revolutionary group which mainly advocated the anti-Qing revolution in words, echoed and coordinated with Tung Meng Hui. For a time, many newspapers in Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan and even "Caring to spread wind and thunder with words" (said by Liu Yazi ) created momentum for the anti-Qing national democratic revolution.

There were as many as 18 members participating in the Nanshe in Xitang. Among them are Yu Shimei, Li Ximou, Yu Zuomei, Shen Yuzhong, Jiang Xuecheng and others.

The poems and articles they left behind commented on current affairs, truly showing the tendency of the literati in the small town to revolution.

After Liu Yazi went south to Guangzhou, he gradually moved away from the friends of Xitang, and the Nanshe was also torn apart in the wave of the Great Revolution.

However, a group of community members in Xitang organized and established the Xushe, with Jiang Xuecheng as the president. With the same purpose and personnel, it was said to be an extended organization of the Nanshe in Xitang, and most of their poems have been retained.

In the old days, literati and scholars often had a strong hometown sentiment, and they were good at cultivating the local culture, customs, and history.

In Xitang, an ancient water town, there are literati, so there are no less than dozens of volumes and more than a thousand poems. Among them, the Ming Dynasty poet Zhou Ding and his poem "Ten Views of Pingchuan " are the first.

The Xiyuan was a private industry of the Zhu family during the Ming Dynasty, and it was also the largest private garden in Xitang Town.

Xitang, ChinaIn the spring of the 9th year of the Republic of China, Liu Yazi from Wujiang and Chen Chao came to Xitang, and took a photo with friends Yu Shimei, Cai Shaosheng, Chen Jueshu and others in the garden.

They imitated the "Literati Collection Picture" painted by Li Gonglin in the Northern Song Dynasty,which showed the literati collection of Su Dongpo, Mi.

The Ancient town of Xitang situated in Jiashan County is under the jurisdiction of Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province. Some 90 kilometers away from Shanghai and 110 kilometers from Hangzhou, Xitang sits where China's three economic giants meet - Shanghai Municipality, and Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

One of the town's geologic advantages is its comprehensive network of land and water communications. Nine waterways meet within the town proper. They cut the town out into eight pieces, which are connected by numerous bridges.

Xitang is renowned for its many bridges, small lanes and riverwalk canopies. The town's Architecture, built during the Ming and Qing Dynasties, are well preserved and are of high artistic and technical research value.

Up until 1998, there were 104 old bridges, all of which were built during the Ming and Qing dynasties. These include the bridges of Anren, Anjing, Anshan, Wufu, Qingning, Wolong and Laifeng. Most of them are single or triple-arched wooden beam bridges with stone piers.

The Wufu (Five-Bliss) Bridge was built during the Ming Dynasty and renovated during the reign of Emperor Guangxu in the Qing Dynasty. The single-arched bridge with a stepped floor is 14 meters long and 7.5 meters wide.

The Wolong (Crouching-Dragon) Bridge was built during the reign of Emperor Kangxi in the Qing Dynasty, this single arched stone bridge is 31.46 meter long, 4.95 meters wide, and 5.5 meter high, the highest of its kind in Xitang.

Xitang, ChinaThere are 32 steps on the bridge's east slope and 30 on the west. An additional nine on a ramp annexed to the west slope make it easier to walk across it.

Riverwalk Canopies are unique canopies, covering most of the town's riverside walks, add to the attraction of this beautiful water town. The canopies provide much needed shelter from the sun and the rain, and are the perfect place to sit under on benches along the riverwalks.

Most of the road canopies, 2-2.5 meters wide, are wooden-famed structures with tiled roofs. End to end, the canopies stretch for a total of over 1,000 meters.

Alleys snaking around residential complexes are another distinctive facet of this ancient town. The most famous alley is called "Stone-Paved Lane." It is 68 meters long and only a meter wide, paved with 216 slabs of stone.

But "Stone-Paved Lane" isn't the narrowest to be found. That honor goes to two other alleys. One can be found at the Li House. It's so narrow that only one person can pass at a time, and must do so sideways.

The other, called "Wildcat Lane," is barely 30 centimeters wide. Located at the west end of the Huanxiu Bridge, it is actually a passage that separates two houses.

By contrast, the widest of Xitang's alleys walks five and half people standing shoulder to shoulder. It is also located by the Li House, which is by the Shaoxianggang.

The shortest of the alleyways, only 3 meters long, is found in the complex of Yuqing Residence. The longest, the Sixian (Four-Sage) Temple Lane, is 236 meters long and it sits on Beishan Street.

In addition to being as valuable as they are architecturally and culturally, some of these heritage houses today serve as public or private museums. On display is a wide of range of items including historical documents or collections of old bamboo carvings, wood sculptures, decorative bricks and tiles.

In the private museums, residents have even been known to open their lounges or studies to visitors for having a good old chat. More fortunate visitors might even be treated to private ancient book collections and inscriptions.

Xitang, ChinaAt the Root-Sculpture Museum of Mr. Zhang Zheng about 300 root sculptures are on display in the museum's four exhibition rooms. Each of the rooms has a name: Guinness World Records, Eagles, Buddhist Images and the Underwater World.

At the Tile-Ends Museum, ancient tile-ends are considered curios, because only a few remain today. They are decorative tiles made of inexpensive materials.

In this museum, there is a good collection of over 300 items. Also on display are patterned gutters, carved bricks, antique bricks, and pottery figures.

At the Wood-Carving Museum some of the 250 residential wood decorations exhibited there date back to the Ming and Qing dynasties. The works include carved beam heads, balustrades and window shades, as well as lattice windows.

The elegant and exquisite designs are quite demonstrative of just how skilled ancient craftsmen and artisans were.

The Button Museum in Xitang is also known as "button country." The museum has a collection of over 1,000 buttons; buttons through the ages.

Getting to Xitang - see transportation options HERE

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