Marco Polo The Most Beautiful and Magnificent City in the World

Marco Polo

A Chinese saying goes as “Heaven Above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below.” This means “heaven on Earth” or “God’s country”.Hangzhou, the largest city and the capital of Zhejiang Province in Eastern China was described as the finest and the noblest (city) in the world by Marco Polo. As the center of the fourth largest metropolitan area Hangzhou Metropolitan, it has a population of over 9 million people.

As a core city of the Yangtze River Delta, its position on the Hangzhou Bay 180 kilometers south west of the Shanghai gives it economic power, proven from the fact that it has been one of the most renowned and prosperous cities of China for the most part of the last 1000 years. It is also known for its beautiful natural scenery, with the city's West Lake as its best- known attraction.  Also known as "Heaven on Earth", it is one of China's most visited tourist attractions. This “Paradise on Earth” has been a key national tourism that marvels the visitors with its natural beauty rich and cultural heritage.

The city so truly referred to as Cultural State despite the many urban developments have managed to retain the mystic aura of historical relics and heritage. It is no doubt that tourism has significantly contributed to the economy of the city as being “Home of Silk”. Hangzhou is blessed with agricultural production, with rich forests, plants, animals and birds. It has also been the origin “Dragon-well Tea” which is famous around the world.  The “historical city Tea Capital”, and “Town of Fish and Rice” has made it a famous tourist destination. The richness of culture and historical spots combined with the many local specialties makes everyone feel very comfortable here.

Hangzhou as one of the seven ancient capitals of China and cradle of the Huaxia (China) Civilization has been home to humans since 5000 years, creating the “Liangzhu Culture” known as the Dawn of Civilization.  For centuries, Hangzhou has famous for waters and mountains. It is described as an Oriental City of Leisure, an ideal destination for its pristine natural landscape and outstanding leisure resources.  Eight districts, namely Shangcheng, Gongshu, Xiacheng, Jianggan, Xihu, Yuhang,, Xiaoshan, and Binjiang, and five counties (cities), respectively Lin’an, Fuyang, Tonglu, Jiande, and Chun’an are governed by the Hangzhou city.

Located in the north-western Zhejiang province, Hangzhou is at the southern end of the Grand Canal of China which goes into Beijing in the south central portion for the Yangtze River Delta. It's city centre is built around the eastern and northern sides of the West Lake, north of the Qiantang River.

With a humid subtropical climate, it has 4 distinctive seasons, with extremes of weather. The summers are extended and hot and humid while winters are drier and chilly with occasional snow.  The mean yearly temperature is between 16-17 ⁰C while the monthly daily average is 4.3⁰C in January to 28.4 ⁰C in July. It has also witnessed extreme temperatures ranging from -10.5⁰C to 42.1 ⁰C (13 to 08⁰F). With an average annual rainfall of 1,400 millimeters, affected by the plum rains of the June Asian monsoon, it is also prone to typhoon storms, though typhoons rarely strike it directly, only making a landfall along the southern coast of Zhejiang, thus affecting the area with strong winds and rains accompanied with storms.

The West Lake is one of its most renowned features, also having gained the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, immortalized by several poets and artists in their works, is  known for its natural scenic beauty, that blends naturally with many famous sites and attractions, including the Solitary Hill, the Six Harmonies Pagoda, Tomb of General Yue Fei, and the Ling Yin Temple, which as one of the oldest Buddhist temple has gone through many destruction and reconstruction cycle; the Yue-Wang temple, on the north west shore, was constructed in 1221 in memory of General Yue Fei who lost his life due to political persecution. Lesser Yangzhou Isle (Three Pools Mirroring the Moon) built in 1600, is the largest island on the lake, where during a full moon, lit candles inside the pagoda appear as if you are seeing the moonlight, which give it this name of “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon”.

The Mid-Lake Pavilion, the oldest island in Hanghou built in 1552, carries a Chinese inscription on the Qing Dynasty- era stone on which the Quing Emperor wrote “Chong Er”, which means “Endless Love”.

Museums such as the National Silk Museum and the National Tea Museum provide an insight into the past of traditional Chinese products. With their local dishes having being noted for their unique style of preparing the delicious food is a delight to watch. Their cuisine is one of the precious cultural experiences of Hangzhou the visitors admire the most.  Hangzhou is surely the place to visit to get a rich experience of the cultural and historic heritage of China and to experience what scenic beauty is really like.

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