Located between Taihu Lake in the south and Yangtze River in
the north, Wuxi neighbors
Jiangsu Province. Wuxi is also about 50 km from Jiangyin, an
international port on the Yangtze River, and 65 km from
Zhangjiagang, another international port.
Wuxi is a city dominated by waterways -- the ring of canals
that surround the city, including the main branch of the
Grand Canal, and the waters of Lake Taihu, China’s fourth
largest lake that extends to the south of the city. In
addition to its scenic attractions and role in a regional
transport system, the water system supports
a flourishing rice agriculture and fisheries. Wuxi was also
known in imperial and modern times for its silk textile
production, and the nearby town of Yixing is renowned for
its “purple-sand” tea-ware pottery.
Wuxi was already
settled in the Zhou period (11th-3rd c. BC), as the capital
of the Wu kingdom, when it was known as Youxi, “a place
having tin.” The current name, meaning “without tin” came
into use by the early Han dynasty (2nd-1st c. BC),
suggesting the tin deposits used in bronze metallurgy were
already played out by that time. The building in the 7th
century of the Imperial Grand Canal that passed through the
town spurred a revival of its fortunes as a transport center
for agricultural products from the surrounding countryside.
Silk weaving was
major local industry, and Shanghai industrialists modernized
production in the 1930’s. Recent overseas investment has led
to a boom in manufacturing. Nearby Lake Tai is the site for
a couple of instant tourist attractions: the Tang City and
Three Kingdoms outdoor film sets for historical dramas, and
a park which holds the world’s tallest Buddha statue (87 m).
Almost the symbol of Wuxi, Yuantouzhou (turtle head isle)
Park is located on a turtle-shape peninsula 18 km from
downtown Wuxi. Built in 1918, the park contains a mansion, a
villa, a garden and a pagoda. In the 1950s, it was renovated
into tourist attraction. In the 1980s the park was further
expanded to be a viewing site from which you can gaze upon
the grand Lake Taihu.
As a poem goes, “If you wish enjoy the full beauty of Lake
Taihu, go to the Shutian Pavilion at the summit of Deer
Crown Hill.” The garden itself is also worth seeing, with
sculptures, pavilion and screens.
The well-known “Garden within a Garden” refers to the
Orchild Garden in Yuantouzhu Park, covering an area of 1, 3
hectares. Wuxi has historically been known for its orchid
cultivation. Today, it shelters more than 100 orchid
species, many of which are rare in the world.
Located in downtown Wuxi, the City Garden covers an area of
3,3 hectares. The earliest park in the modern history of
Wuxi, the garden is a place for recreation with pavilions,
rockeries, arch bridges and plants. Among the better-known
sights are Embroidery Peak, Dragon Mound, the Longevity
Building and Villa of Cool Breezes.
As early as in the 5th century B.C, the king of the Wu
Kingdom built an alternate palace here. In the 4th century,
Wang Xizhi, the King of Calligraphy, lived here for a brief
A non-government cultural institution, the Park of Wu
Culture integrates natural surroundings with artistic
creation. Located on Xigao Hill, Yangqiao Town, the park was
designed by architects from Tongji University in Shanghai
and consists of six sections. The first section is devoted
to the primitive communal life of Wuxi, the second to local
culture, the third to modern economic development, the
fourth to customs, the fifth to arts and the sixth to
The local culture section alone has a floor space of 1,650
square meters and is divided into rooms exhibiting early
development, local celebrities, various occupations and an
An archetype for the Jichang Garden in the Summer Palace of
Beijing, the Garden of Ease of Mind in Wuxi is renowned for
its exquisite layout and unique artistic tradition of
“borrowing scenery”; theat is, it lets the natural scenery
complement the works of art.
In the 13th century, the garden was a dormitory for monks.
In the late 15th century, a man named Qin Jin bought the
premises and converted it into a garden. The Emperor Kangxi
in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) visited the park six times
during his inspection tours to the south. He loved the
garden so much that when he returned Beijing, he ordered a
replica garden to be built in the Summer Palace.
The Plum Garden in Wuxi features a display of plum blossoms.
With 9 acres of plum trees, the garden was built with the
funding of two well-know brother entrepreneurs surnamed Rong.
Attractions in the garden include the Pavilion of Heaven’s
Center, a memorial pagoda built by the Rong Brothers for
their mother and a jade statue of the sleeping Buddha that
weighs 7 tons.
The Liyuan Garden, built in 1937, is located by Lake Lihu,
Covering an area of 20 acres; the park combines the lake
with rockeries to form a harmonious unity. The first scenic
spot in the garden is a group of rockeries built around the
lake, with a pebble paved path winding through them. The
second spot consists of four pavilions named after the four
seasons. Peach trees are planted by the Spring Pavilion,
oleander by Summer Pavilion, osmanthus by the Autumn
Pavilion and plum by the Winter Pavilion. The third area is
a causeway flanked with peach blossoms and weeping willows,
and the fourth a 289-meter-long corridor featuring
calligraphy carved in stone by noted literati.
With an area of 9, 5 square km, Lake Lihu, an inner lagoon
of Lake Taihu, derives its name from an interesting legend
about an official named Fan Li. As the legend goes, about
2,400 years ago the Wu Kingdom was at war with the Yue
Kingdom, which resulted in the defeat and capture of the Yue
King. As the Yue Kingdom’s minister, Fan designed a trap for
the opponent’s king by luring him with the most beautiful
woman in the century. True to Fan’s plans, the king became
so infatuated with her that his kingdom, abandoned by its
king, fell to the enemy, Fan, so instrumental in the
downfall of Wu, declined the offers of high rank and
retreated with his beloved. When they arrived at what today
is Lake Lihu, they were so enchanted by the scenery that
they decided to settle down.
By Lake Taihu there are three theme parks: Tang Town,
European Town and the Three-Kingdom Town. These parks serve
mainly as settings for films and TV serials.
Tang Town features the culture of the Tang Dynasty
(618-907), the most prosperous period in Chinese history.
European Town houses replicas of the major attractions in
Europe, which are including the Temple of Zeus, fountains
with sculptures, rural chapels in Norway, Russian manors,
Roman both houses, Spanish court-yards and Greek theatres.
Inside the Three-Kingdom Town are imitations of Han-Dynasty
style palaces, temples, barracks, altars, beacon towers and
city gates. In addition, there are more than 20ancient style
The Lishan Mountain in Wuxi shelters many tourist
attractions, including the longest fresco in China, and is
also a tourist haunt.
Tourists to Wuxi should not miss the Hushan clay figures.
Over 400 years old, the Hushan clay art comes in two
categories. One consists of toy reproductions of chubby
babies and various animals, the most famous of which is the
Great Afu (blessings) in human form. The other consists of
hand-made figures based on Chinese traditional operas. These
products are not only popular in China; they also find a
market in over 50 countries and region of the world.
Apart from the Hushan clay figures, Wuxi’s famous staples
include gluten, ice fish from Lake Yaihu, silk, honey
peaches, red bayberry and Biluochun Tea.
Made from deep-fried wheat bran in vegetable oil, the brown,
thin, crispy and tender clusters of gluten are an
indispensable ingredient in Wuxi dishes. One famous dish
called “gluten with three delicacies” uses gluten. Chinese
mushrooms and bamboo shoots.
The honey peaches of Wuxi are so tender that you only need
to suck the fresh from them, rather bite into them. Easy to
peel and larger than ordinary peaches, their pulp is also
juicier and sweeter.
During a visit to Lake Taihu, visitors should also enjoy the
Lake Taihu Banquet served on sight-seeing boats along the
lake. The banquet’s cuisine dates back to the late Qing
Dynasty. Most of the dishes have local fish caught in the
lake or fresh poultry.
Special folk attractions in Wuxi include the Mid-Autumn
Festival on Lake Taihu, Bell-Striking on the Spring Festival
Eve, honeymoon tours, country tours, silk tours and Taihu