Suzhou (Chinese Pinyin Sūzhōu, simplified characters 苏州, traditional 蘇州; ancient name: Wu (Chinese Pinyin Wú, characters 吳)) is a city and urban prefecture with a long history, located in the lower reaches of the Yangtze River '-jiang and the shores of Lake Tai in Jiangsu Province in the People's Republic of China. The city is known for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas and carefully designed gardens, which have become popular tourist attractions. Suzhou was also, beginning with the reign of the Song dynasty (960–1279), an important center of Chinese silk production; it has retained this important position to this day. It is also part of an area called the Golden Triangle. There is also a port in the city (the famous Shizuoka-Suchou shipping route). In 2004, GDP per capita was 66,826 yuan (approximately US$7,649), the fifth highest among China's 659 major cities.
Suzhou, the cradle of the Wu culture, is one of the oldest cities in the Yangtze River Valley.
Three and a half thousand years ago, during the reign of the Shang Dynasty, tribes called "Kou Wu" lived in the territory of the then non-existent city of Suzhou.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Che Lu (阖闾), the ruler of the State of Wu, founded "Che Lu's Great City", which became the capital of his empire. In 496 BC, Che Lu was buried in Huchiou (Tiger Mound, 虎丘).
In 473 BC, the state of Wu was defeated by the state of Yue, another of the eastern Chinese kingdoms, which was annexed by the state of Chu in 306 BC. The golden era of Suzhou was over. The remains of this culture are represented by the ruins of a two and a half thousand year old wall and gate (Pchan Gate).
During the Qin Dynasty, the city was known as Wu District, and in 209 BC it became the site of a rebellion led by Xiang Yue (长羽) that contributed to the fall of the Qin.
In 589 AD, during the Sui Dynasty, the city was renamed Suzhou. With the completion of the Grand Canal, Suzhou gained a strategic position on a major trade route. It was the center of industry and trade of the southeast coast of China.
In 825, during the reign of the Tang Dynasty, the great poet Pai Yui (白居易) built the Shantang Canal (山塘街) to connect Suzhou and Hujia.
In 1035, the great poet and writer Fan Chung-yen (范仲淹) founded the Temple of Confucius, which became the venue for the imperial civil service examinations.
In February 1130, the army of the Jin dynasty advancing from the north looted and massacred the city. This was followed by the invasion of the Mongols in 1275 and the destruction of the royal city (in the center of the walled city) at the beginning of the Ming dynasty in 1367.
After that, however, the city prospered again. Many of the famous private gardens were built by members of the lower nobility during the Ming and Qing dynasties. However, in 1860, another disaster struck the city when members of the Taiping Rebellion seized the city. It wasn't until November 1863 that Charles Gordon's ever-victorious army liberated the city from the Taiping rebels.
Another crisis hit the city during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. Many of the gardens were devastated during the war. In the early 1950s, the gardens of Chuocheng Yuan (Garden of Humble Servant of the State), Tung Yuan (Eastern Garden) and others were restored and brought back to life.
In 1981, this ancient city was designated by the Chinese government as one of the four cities (along with Beijing, Hangzhou and Kuilin) where the preservation of historical and cultural heritage and natural scenery should be prioritized. Since then, Suzhou has developed into one of the most prosperous cities in China with its suburban economic projects.
The Classical Gardens of Suzhou have been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List