Situated in the Central Eastern coastal part of China, Jiangsu is dominated by the Yangzi (Changjiang) River to the south and the Grand Canal that links to Beijing. The provincial capital, Nanjing, was the national capital more than once during China’s long history (Nanjing means ‘southern capital’ compared to Beijing ‘northern capital’). It also includes the historic city of Suzhou and many other historic ‘canal’ towns. Jiangsu’s history goes back at least 5,000 years. It was part of the Wu kingdom in the Warring States period, and then became integrated into China during the Qin and Han dynasties before re-emerging as the Kingdom of Wu again briefly during the Three Kingdoms period. Jiankang (Nanjing) was the capital of the southern China dynasties before China was re-united under the Sui dynasty.
Popular Cities: Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou, Xuzhou, Lianyungang, Changzhou, Nantong, Zhenjiang
Average temperature: -2ºC to 4ºC (28.4ºF to 39.2ºF) in January, 26ºC to 29ºC (78.8ºF to 84.2ºF) in July.
Places to visit
1. Nanjing has always been an important crossing point of the Yangzi (the first bridge 5,108 feet [1,557 meters] long was built as late as 1968). It is strategically situated on a narrow portion of the Yangzi before it flows into its estuary. Nanjing became the country’s capital back in early Ming dynasty times hence its name which means southern capital. Close to the city center, Xuanwu Lake is China’s largest imperial lake and one of the three famous lakes in southern China. Bearing the ancient name Sangbo, the lake has a history of over 1,500 years.
2. Located at the southern foot of Mount Zijin (Purple Mountain) in the eastern suburb of Nanjing City, Jiangsu Province, the Ming Xiaoling Mausoleum is the tomb of the first Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) emperor Zhu Yuanzhang and his empress. It is the largest imperial tomb in Nanjing City and one of the largest ancient imperial tombs in all of China. After he was installed as emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang spent over 30 years on the construction of the tomb.
3. Zhenjiangis a city with historic buildings serving as the eastern gateway to Nanjing just up river. Close by is Jinshan, originally an island in the Yangzi, has at its top 197 feet [60 meters] the Cishou Pagoda – Temple of Benevolence and Longevity. On the route to the summit is 1,500 year old Jinshan Temple once home to thousands of monks.
4. Taihu Lake near to Wuxi, Jiangsu is a beautiful tourist spot. It covers 593,053 acres [2,400 sq kms] but only 7 feet [2 meters] deep, it is nearly round and supplies water to surrounding farmland. The lake has an island Dongting Xishan which is worth a visit. There are a number of famous, ornamental gardens on the banks.
5. On the north bank of Taihu Lake near Yixing are limestone caves at Shanjuan and Zhanggong. The caves have impressive stalagmites and stalactites. Zhanggong cave is named after the Daoist immortal Zhang Guolao. The city of Yixing has a pottery that makes much admired red teapots.
6. Suzhou contributes the ‘su’ part of Jiangsu’s name. Dating back 2,500 years, it is a city with many canals and gardens. Laid out in a neat grid it has six gateways. It is famous for its 150 gardens were once owned by wealthy private families. One of the oldest and most famous is Canglangting (Pavilion of the surging waves) built in the Song dynasty by scholar Su Zimei. Suzhou has an impressive museum of Opera and Theater. Jasmine tea is produced in this area.
7. In both Suzhou and Wuxi, the canals, gardens, and bridges over them feature significantly – Suzhou has been dubbed the ‘Venice of the Orient’. Kunqu Opera, China’s oldest traditional opera is performed here. Both Wuxi and Suzhou are cities whose long prosperity goes back to the production of silk, the original luxury textile.