Introduction

Photo by Han Sheng

Hangzhou is a modern city in a classic Chinese setting. The city hums with activities and an endless flow of traffic, signs of its place in the 21st century, while the beautiful West Lake lies peacefully at the heart of all commotion, soothing the senses.

In eastern China, Hangzhou is the capital of Zhejiang Province and one of the seven capitals of ancient China. The city is also the southern end of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the longest canal ever built in the world. Find out more about the city’s history which dates back 5,000 years, or immerse yourself in the cultural heritage by sitting back and relaxing with a cup of exquisite West Lake Longjing Tea.


Brief history

Hangzhou's history dates back to 2,200 years ago during the Qin dynasty (221-206 BC), but the ancient Liangzhu people inhabited the area more than 5,000 years ago. During the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period (907-979 AD), the city was chosen as capital of the Wuyue Kingdom. It later became the capital of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279 AD) when the central government fled from its original capital in Kaifeng after it fell to the invading Jurchen tribes of the Jin Dynasty from northeast China.

The Jurchens are not the same as Han Chinese and were viewed by the ancient Chinese as foreigners and barbaric since they lived a nomadic life. Under the Sui Dynasty (581-618 AD), Hangzhou became the southern terminal of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal to transport food from southern China, where agricultural fields are mostly located, to the north.

Through the years, the city has grown into a prosperous metropolis known for its scenery, graced by ancient literary writers and the final resting place of household historical figures. Today, it continues to strive towards the conservation of its natural heritage, a daunting task in an era where modernity often takes precedence, especially so in a fast a developing country.