Qibao Water Town

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

Beautiful Bridges of Qibao Water Town              Bookmark and Share

Located in the center of Minhang District of Shanghai, only 18 kilometers (11.18 miles) from the downtown area, Qibao Ancient Town can satisfy your curiosity about ancient water townships without the bother of either long distance or the rush of crowds.

The ancient town of Qibao - literally 'Seven Treasures' dates back to the Northern Song dynasty (AD 960-1127). Easily reached from town, the ancient settlement prospered during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Now, it's run by the quaintly named Shanghai Qibao Ancient Town Tourism Exploitation Co. It's overrun with visitors, but is also littered with traditional, historic architecture.

Old Street of Qibao Ancient Town

Old Street of Qibao Ancient Town

As the only ancient town forming part of greater Shanghai, with a history spanning over one thousand years, Qibao is more than just a living fossil of ancient Chinese conurbation and urban planning. The town was built in Northern Song Dynasty (960-1126) and grew into a prosperous business center during Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasties (1644-1911). Qibao is the Chinese for 'seven treasures' and there are two popular theories about its derivation. The more reliable one says that the name originates from the Qibao Temple, famed for its good reputation. It was this that contributed to the growth of business and culture of the previously unknown town. The other theory seems more popular among the local people who tell folk tales about seven treasures. These were an iron Buddha made in Ming Dynasty, a bronze bell also dating from the Ming Dynasty but said to have mysteriously appeared from nowhere, a Gold Script Lotus Sutra written by an imperial concubine of the 10th century, a one-thousand-year-old Chinese catalpa tree, a jade axe, a gold cockerel and a pair of jade chopsticks. Actually of these seven treasures, the existence of only first four can be verified while only the Scripture and the bell have survived to this day.

A Wine Shop at  Qibao Ancient Town

A Wine Shop at Qibao Ancient Town

Worth ferreting out is the excellent Catholic Church adjacent to a convent off Nanjie, south of the canal. The single-spire edifice dates back to 1867 - pop inside and admire the bright, whitewashed interior, cooled by overhead fans and containing a confessional, small shuttered windows and an attractively painted ceiling. The church isn't on the official map, but it's down an alley off Yu'tang Jie. Watch out for the dogs that sit in the courtyard; they don't always take to foreigners.

A ticket office officially exists at the entrance to the town, but is sometimes shut, so just wander in. There are plenty of places to eat. In the heat of summer, don't pass on the Chaobing (literally 'stir-fried ice'), platefuls of flavoured ground-up ice (around Y2) ideal for slaking a thirst and bringing the mercury shooting down.

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