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Tongli Town

Tongli Town, best-preserved water township in Jiangsu province, is located in the east of ancient canal on the shore of Taihu Lake, 18 km away from Suzhou city. The town occupies a total area of 62.54 square kilometers with a population of 33,500.

Surrounded by water, Tongli Town, setting among the five lakes of Tongli, Jiuli, Yeze, Nanxing and Pangshan, is divided into seven islands by 15 rivers and combined into a whole by 49 ancient bridges. Intersected by so many rivers, nearly all the architectures in this town were built facing water, which bestowed the town a name 'enice in the East'.

Thanks to these lakes and waterways, Tongli Town stayed away from wars since it was inaccessible in the old times, which made more ancient buildings well preserved.

 Residential House

The layout of the town and the residences along both banks retain the traditional style. Occupying four tenths of the total, Ming and Qing buildings, which include grand houses, small exquisite courtyard and gardens, are the highlight of Tongli town. Decorated with flying eaves, brick carvings, elegant windows, they are mostly built towards the water, sometimes with a small garden in their rears. In order to be convenient for washing, small stairs were built in front of the house leading to the river.


Due to the charming environment here, in ancient times, many noble men and distinguish families built their private gardens in succession. These complexes, featured by the harmonious combination of residential houses and gardens, are especially unique and rare in all other water towns south of Yangtze River.

Retreat and Reflection Garden

Lying in the township of Tongli, this garden was built by Ren Lansheng in 1886 during the Qing dynasty, after he was discharged from office. 'hen in office, one should be loyal to the emperor, when away from office, one should meditate upon his previous faults. 'It was the motto of the officials in imperial times. Hence the name 'etreat and Reflection Garden'.

Covers an area of 10 mu (1.6 acres), the garden is divided into two parts: the western part is residential area, including sedan hall, tea hall and the main hall and the eastern part scenery area, composing of the exterior and interior gardens. The three sides but the north of the exterior garden are halls for meeting or entertaining guests. Inside the courtyard is an eastward land boat, a rendezvous of the guests. The stern is combined with lattice windows and veranda. The northern side of the courtyard is the 'Viewing Moon Loft', from where the host together with his guests hummed verses and responded each other with poems in the quiet moonlight. In the interior garden, the pavilions, terraces, boudoirs, the winding causeways and corridors and the rockeries all surround the pond or lie close to the water, giving an illusion of floating on the water.

  Ancient Bridge

In a water town, bridge always plays an important role in people daily life. There are about 49 bridges in Tongli, in which Taiping, Jili, Changqing bridges are most famous. Exquisite and simple, Taiping Bridge was built in 1747 during the Qing dynasty. Changqing Bridge, also named Guangli Bridge, was rebuilt by Xiezhen in the Ming dynasty.

Siben Bridge, built in the Southern Song dynasty, is the oldest bridge in Tongli town. Dubu Bridge, 5 feet in length and 3 feet in width, is the smallest bridge in the town.

As a character of Tongli, these ancient bridges today is reputed as the witness of the history, telling the story of the past.

Tongli is also rich in culture. In the long run of its history, it was once famed for its achievements in the imperial examinations and has produced famous Confucians and notables. About 40 stone tablets of different periods have been well preserved and a quite number of its streets and alleys are named after the official titles such as Zhuangyuan Street, Tongzhi Street, etc.

Tongli Town was open to the public in 1986 and in 1995 cited as one of the first historic cultural towns in Jiangsu province.

Admission Fee: CNY 80