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From the series Cities of China

When I was living in China I often had a conversation that went something like this: 

Me: What is the most beautiful place in China? 

He/She: Suzhou and Hangzhou. 

Me: Really, have you been there? 

He/She: No, I've never been there. 

Me: Then why do you say it is the most beautiful place in China? 

He/She: Well…um….because….every Chinese person knows that they are the most beautiful places in China. 

Their answer, of course, was based in their having memorized the ancient Chinese saying:  "In the sky there is heaven; on the earth there is Su-Hang." (上有天堂, 下有苏杭.) In this case "Su" refers to the city of Suzhou and "Hang" refers to the city of Hangzhou, both in Zhejiang Province. 

I recently found this video of Hangzhou. I'll let you decide whether it lives up to the ancient Chinese saying. 

Thank You Hangzhou from Dominik Derflinger on Vimeo.

In addition to its prominent role as the political and cultural capital of Zhejiang Province, the city also has some interesting historical connections to Christianity. It is home to one of the oldest Catholic churches in China, The Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, built by the Jesuits in 1651.  Hudson Taylor lived in Hanghzou in the 1860s; two of his children died and were buried there. 

Today it is home to China's largest church, the Chongyi Church

Over the past year and a half, the government in Zhejiang has been conducting a "rectification campaign" claiming to crackdown on illegal structures. They have demolished numerous church buildings and/or crosses on top of church buildings, including some in Hangzhou. 

Hangzhou is a short train ride from Shanghai, and is also accessible by air from all major cities in China. While there are currently no direct flights to Hangzhou from the United States, you can fly directly there from cities in Asia and the Middle East. 

Image credit: Sunset at West Lake (Xi Hu), Hangzhou by Peter Dowley via Flickr
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Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is Vice President of Partnership and China Engagement and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University …View Full Bio

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