"The Venice of the East"
Located 100 km. northwest of Shanghai, Suzhou is, in the words of our guide, "a small village of ten million people." In earlier times, Suzhou was one of the ten largest cities in the world, the largest non-capital city in the world, and China's commercial hub. In 486 BC King Fuchai of Wu (now known as Suzhou) ordered Suzhou's first canals to be built to promote trade and to support his military campaigns in the north. Over the centuries that followed, the Han Gou, as the first canal was known, was expanded, extended and eventually incorporated into the Grand Canal completed under the Sui dynasty (581–618 AD). After the Taiping Rebellion in 1860 the city was eclipsed by Shanghai as a commercial centre.
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