Hangzhou’s pagoda

(Hangzhou) We moved from the country-side around Ningbo and Ninghai to the ‘green’ city of Hangzhou, a city that is vast but less imposing than its neighbour, the populous economic motor of Shanghai.

The city itself is built around West Lake, a 6.8 kilometre area of greenery, and our first stop yesterday was the reconstructed Liuhe Pagoda, or Six Harmonies Pagoda. You usually associate a pagoda with an ancient structure but this one is build with brass, steel, and even has an elevator that takes you up its seven stories, and the great bird’s eye view of West Lake.
Detail from the Liuhe Pagoda

Detail from the Liuhe Pagoda

We then visited the former residence of Hu Xue Yan, a colourful businessman who built himself a little empire here during the Qing dynasty. He had courted favour with the rulers of the day, even fought wars by their side. Hence, he gained the status of a governor – despite his humble beginnings. The house is enormous, and beautifully preserved. The furnishings here are sparse and tasteful – and the central garden, peaceful.
Former residence of Hu Xue Yan

Former residence of Hu Xue Yan

But it’s the Song dynasty, between 960–1279, that are celebrated here as the most notable period of this city and region’s life. Last night we were invited to a true celebration of this era, full of pomp and entertainment. We attended a performance in a part of town where all of the relics reflect the Song era with its beautifully ornamented architecture. The show was wildly choreographed, with waterfalls and stories of love and beauty around West Lake.

Where I’m staying:
Friendship Hotel
53 Pinghai Road
Hangzhou, China
Phone: [86] 571 870 778 88
http://www.friendship-hotel.com
Cultural Navigator rating: 6.2/10

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