Ancient Capital

Hangzhou is recognised as one of the eight ancient capitals of China. Before, the city was also called Hangchew or Hangchow.

Already in the 7th century Hangzhou became an important city when the Grand Canal was built. This waterway is running between Beijing and Hangzhou and is 1800 kilometers (1.120 miles) long. Even today the Grand Canal is the main north-south waterway in China.

Its flourishing period as a capital came when the court of the Song Dynasty was forced to flee south from Dong Jing (Kaifeng), and established itself in Hangzhou. In the 12th and 13th centuries the city became a centre for trade and entertainment. Hangzhou was also the very midpoint for Chinese civilisation, many famous and most celebrated poets, artists and scholars of the Chinese history came to work and live here during this period. The Southern Song Dynasty lasted 1127-1279 and was finally conquered by the Mongols. The next dynasty (that was proclaimed already in 1271) – Yuan Dynasty – moved its political centre north. Despite that and despite the destruction brought to the city by Kublai Khan, Marco Polo who visited Hangzhou shortly after was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Hangzhou that he wrote “Beyond dispute the finest and the noblest city in the world.”

Hangzhou rose to be the capital of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279 A.D.) when, forced to flee before the invading Jurchen, the Song Dynasty Emperor Gaozong (1107-1187) moved the capital southwards from Kaifeng to Hangzhou. This was the start of the Southern Song Dynasty, and both two governments existed at the same time. Under the patronage of this court, Hangzhou reached its heyday, with the flourish of arts, poets, famous scholars, trade and commerce. Marco Polo paid the highest compliment to Hangzhou, referring to it as “The finest and most splendid city in the world!”

During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), the Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong, built both a palace and a library here to show their affection for Hangzhou. Hundreds of years later, Chairman Mao was smitten by its charm, and has chosen to spend his vacations here.

Hangzhou is the home town of Green Tea, especially Dragon Well Tea. It is the best place to visit the tea gardens and see the tea girls’ hand-pick the fresh tender tea bud with the fresh dew still on it!
West Lake is the most famous landmark of Hangzhou. It is one of the most picturesque lakes in China! There are hundreds if not thousands of poems to describe the beauty of the West Lake; in all four seasons, under the moonshine or sunset, in the snow or fog, every bridge, every tower and every flower! Not only famous because of its dramatic scenery, but also for the beautiful, timeless stories and legends surrounding it!
The dramatic scenery, rich culture, historical background with the beautiful stories and legends make Hangzhou a romantic destination