Pingjiang Road Overview
South of Humble Administrator's Garden, with a history of more than 2500 years, Pingjiang Road Historic Street is the most typical and complete ancient street in Suzhou. Centering on Pingjiang Road, it is a small river-side road with a total length of 1,606 meters, hosting alleys such as Xuanqiao Alley, Daru Alley, Weidaoguanqian Alley, Zhongzhangjia Alley and Daxinqiao Alley on its east and west sides, in particular, multiple water lanes in the east, witnessing parallel water and land traffic, river and street neighboring, highlighting characteristics of water city south of the Yangtze River. Only a lane away from Guanqian Street in the west, it witnesses a completely different quiet and quaint atmosphere. It can be described as an "ancient town" free from tickets. Strolling around, tasting snacks while visiting, usually make visitors quite pleasant.
Slowing down, stepping on the stone path, visitors would notice nearby lush camphor trees, stone fences, stone tables and benches, observing old houses, white walls and gray tiles, wooden doors and windows, elegant and charming. The street retains lane old look, hosting properly transformed bars, souvenir shops, and cafes, similar to residential buildings. Multiple residents available, visitors should avoid "breaking into private houses".
Bridges here also have their own characteristics, such as delicate drum stones, moire stone pillars at both ends of bridge railings, railings carved with double dragons playing with a bead, green bamboo, flowers and other patterns. The street hosts Kun Opera Museum, Museum of storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect, offering wonderful performances. Coupling Garden on the east side and Lion Groove on the west side are worth visiting. At the upper reaches of the Pingjiang River, it is available to take a boat to visit the Pingjiang River. The reference price is 150 Yuan/boat, taking 6-8 passengers and taking about 40 minutes. In the evening, lights shining on small bridges and flowing water, make streets and residents particularly intoxicating.
The historic street hosts multiple interesting shops that literary and artistic youths love to visit, such as Cat Sky Center, a petty bourgeoisie bookstore, very lively and attractive, offering "postcards for the future", small flower shops, Suzhou-style clothing shops, quite distinctive.
Of course, it provides sufficient delicacies. Yushifandaotuzaoguan is a popular private restaurant, generally requiring reservations in advance. Huamaosuannaishitang provides Maosuannai 15 seconds after kissing with your partner. Foodies can enjoy themselves.
Pingjiang Road Geographical Location
Pingjiang Road starts from East Ganjiang Road in the south, crossing East Baita Road in the north, connecting Dongbei Street. In ancient times, it was named "Shiquanli". It appeared Wumen Biaoyin in 1834, saying, "Pingjiang Road was previously named Shiquanli, hosting 10 ancient wells, 1 south of Huayang Bridge, 1 south of Xijia Bridge, and 1 north of Yuan Bridge", very detailed. Pingjiang Road is along the river. Before I took this road, I referred to the map, it has a total length of 1606 meters, namely about 1.5 kilometers, hosting multiple side streets and narrow lanes on both sides, such as Lion Temple Alley, Chuanfang Alley, Donghuaqiao Alley, Caohuxu Alley, Daxinqiao Alley, Weidaoguanqian Alley, Zhongzhangjia Alley, Daru Alley, Dingxiang Alley, Huxiangshi Alley, Xiaojia Alley, Niujia Alley, and Xuanqiao Alley.
1606.8 meters long and 3.2 meters wide, the street changed its boulder pavement to rectangular stone herringbone pavement in 1985. In May 2004, Pingjiang Road completed protection and renovation project, transferring its pavement into traditional long stone horizontal paving. Its side branch alleys are mostly historic alleys, famous for their characteristics of "parallel water and land traffic, river and street neighboring". The Pingjiang River on the west side is the fourth straight river in the main stream of the "3 horizontal and 4 straight main streams" in the ancient city, with a width of 5 meters - 6 meters, hosting 11 bridges spanning east-west from southern end of Yuan Bridge to northern end of Huayang Bridge.
Main Tourist Attractions
Located in Xiaoxinqiao Alley, Cangjie Street, Suzhou, listed as a national key cultural relics protection site in June 2001, included in the World Cultural Heritage List by UNESCO in November 2000, Suzhou Ouyuan Garden is surrounded by river on 3 sides and street on 1 side, and river ports in the front and back. Witnessing whitewashed walls and black tiles, small bridges and flowing water, it highlights water town charm south of the Yangtze River. Formerly known as "Sheyuan Garden" built in the early Qing Dynasty, it was destroyed by war during Emperor Xianfeng period. In the 13th year of Emperor Tongzhi (1874), the abandoned garden was bought by Shen Bingcheng, Huzhou native, governor of Susongtai Prefecture, recuperating in Wuzhong then. At that time, Shen Bingcheng had the intention of retreat, so he hired Gu Yun, painter of the Qing Dynasty, to design and expand, completing current garden and renaming it "Ouyuan Garden". In meaning, Ou similar to couple, implying the hidden intention of the couple. Ouyuan Garden was completed in 1876. Shen Bingcheng and his wife stayed in the garden for 8 years. The couple were quite affectionate. With an area of about 2 acres, the garden had the residence in the center, east and west wings on 2 sides, a row of buildings behind the river at the north end, running through by "Zoumalou". This layout of 1 house and 2 gardens is unique among many classical gardens in Suzhou.
Suzhou Opera Museum consists of the 2 museums of Kun Opera Museum and Museum of Storytelling and Ballad Singing in Suzhou Dialect, storing more than 30,000 volumes of ancient books and precious historical materials of Kun Opera, Su Opera, and Storytelling and Ballad Singing in Suzhou Dialect. Its predecessor Quanjin Guild Hall was listed as a national key cultural relics protection site in 2006. In 1986, Suzhou Municipal People’s Government decided to establish Suzhou Opera Museum located at Quanjin Guild Hall. In October of the same year, Suzhou Opera Museum officially opened to the public.
Built more than 2 centuries ago, former residence of Pan Shien is a typical Suzhou-style garden, a cultural relics protection site in Jiangsu Province, famous for poems and drinking tales, romance and highlights. Located in prosperous section of the ancient city, the museum is filled with sufficient atmosphere of classics, ancient residences and scroll literature. Currently it consists of 4 exhibition halls: Sedan Chair Hall, Mandarin Duck Hall, Gauze Cap Hall and Back Hall, connected by a beautiful courtyard.
Suzhou Suzhou Fan Museum is a private museum for collection, protection, appreciation, research and education, storing multiple famous works and fan handicrafts, such as ancient and modern famous fans, fan pages, famous carved fan bones, sandalwood fans, round fans, wooden fans, feather fans, as well as fan pendants, fan bags, fans boxes, ancient fan-making tools, books, newspapers, and images, rich in contents and complete in varieties. striving to show the style and artistic characteristics of Suzhou fans in all directions, opening a window for the public to understand and appreciate Suzhou fan culture.
Speaking of Pingjiang Road, it is easy to associate 2 celebrities living at 27 Xuanqiao Alley, Pingjiang Road. Hong Jun, top scholar in the seventh year of Emperor Tongzhi, gradually promoted from Imperial Academy composer to senior vice minister of the Ministry of War. He was famous in nature, but his romantic marriage later made him more well-known. It was on a sunny morning in 1886, he married Sai Jinhua, a 16-year-old "Qinhuai River lorette", making her his third concubine.
A talented and high-ranking official fell in love with a pretty young lady, witnessing romance. It was said that Hong Jun was on his way home to the funeral, saw Sai Jinhua singing for a living on the Qinhuai River, thus leading to the romance of "Pear Begonia". At that time, he asked Sai Jinhua to play and sing for him frequently. Later, under the instigation of friends, this marriage was approved by his first wife and second wife. Thus, in the second year, the sweet-scented osmanthus became fragrant, Beauty Sai Jinhua entered 27 Xuanqiao Alley. Lord Hong specially built a house for Sai Jinhua, the "seventh entrance" house of the Hong family compound. Amidst the moisture south of the Yangtze River, Sai Jinhua stretched leisurely and moistly in the No.27 courtyard. She would often listen to storytelling and ballad singing in Suzhou dialect, Kun Opera and Beijing Opera in the courtyard after dinner or in her spare time. In the eyes of her servants, she was gentle and kind. Hong’s first wife looked down upon her as a concubine, but in general, this marriage was still quite exciting.
In the midsummer of 1890, Hong Jun returned from the 4 western countries as envoy of the Qing government with Sai Jinhua. At this time, Sai Jinhua was already able to speak a good foreign language. Experiencing ups and downs in social circles, she naturally became China's first generation party girl. They returned to Suzhou, Pingjiang Road, living at 29 Xuanqiao Alley, bringing back a piano. However, only 2 months later, Hong Jun passed away, at the age of 55. It was too early. Young and beautiful Sai Jinhua was left alone, departing from 29 Xuanqiao Alley with infinite emotion. She went to Shanghai, starting her life as "lorette". Calculating the time, Sai Jinhua lived in Hong Compound, Xuanqiao Alley, next to Pingjiang Road for only half a year, and the time with Hong Jun was only 7 years, but 27 and 29 Xuanqiao Alley have become an eternal tale. Walking around here, it seems that sometimes visitors might meet charming and elegant Sai Jinhua at the street corner!
Pingjiang Road is a small road near the river, connected to Humble Administrator’s Garden in the north, overlooking Twin Towers in the south. It is 1,606 meters in length and is a classic water lane with a long history in Suzhou. On the Southern Song Dynasty's Suzhou map Pingjiang Tu, Pingjiang Road was clearly identifiable, serving as the main road in the eastern half of Suzhou at that time. For more than 800 years, not only the river shape and street organization of Pingjiang Road remain basically the same as the original, also the water town pattern of "parallel water and land traffic, river and street neighboring" has been properly retained. Pingjiang Road is considered as the best-preserved ancient street in Suzhou. Separated from Guanqian Street, it has its quiet and quaint living atmosphere quite different from nearby noisy surroundings.
Although it has been protected and transformed as a historic and cultural street, Pingjiang Road focuses on repairing the old and keeping the old. Multiple old houses along the street have actually been applied as bars and clubs, but not ostentatious in appearance. They are quietly hidden under wooden door panels. At first glance, they are not different from ordinary houses. Visitors can only see them from the exquisite carved porches, getting some clues. Compared with Shantang Street, another old street in Suzhou, Pingjiang Road has less commercial atmosphere, preserving old appearance, retaining folk customs to a greater extent.
In addition to staying famous for its history, Pingjiang Road gourmet food is one of its outstanding features. It preserves ancient architectures, with its gourmet food and restaurants closely related to Suzhou ancient food culture. It has the following 3 major gourmet food characteristics:
First: Street food available along the street from beginning to end, cooked by local indigenous residents, dressed in clothing with style south of the Yangtze River, including sweet-scented osmanthus cakes, fermented rice balls, fresh meat moon cakes, begonia cakes, bamboo sticks, big bowls of tea, making visitors experience its culture while walking and eating.
Second: Shops under blue bricks and white tiles. Don’t underestimate such street shops. Multiple foodies come specially for them. Take Zhuangyuan Street dumpling restaurant next to Pingjiang Inn as example. Its Suzhou fish head is smooth and tender, incredibly tasty and unforgettable. Le Grid Belgian Sunshine Muffin Shop on the northern section of Pingjiang Road has its freshly baked muffins crispy outside and soft inside, paired with pure cream and fresh fruits. Visitors can find them with the smell after coming out of Humble Administrator’s Garden. Chicken Feet Corner on the central line offers delicious chicken feet and duck tongues, with fragrance overflowing the whole street. Pan-fried Shop has bite introducing fried meat juice, highlighting nice meat taste. Aged people living south of the Yangtze River combine fried dumplings in Suzhou with famous steamed dumplings in Shanghai.
Third: Restaurants with certain scales mainly offering Suzhou cuisine, with authentic traditional tastes, such as indispensable squirrel mandarin fish, crab bean curd, sweet and sour pork ribs, sweet and sour fish, hoof pork with soy sauce, preserved egg and lean meat porridge. Only the names will make people salivate. The gourmet food here demonstrates the food culture of Pingjiang Road, introducing ancient food stories.