History of Hangzhou

Hangzhou, the capital city of Zhejiang Province, the area immediately surrounding the modern city of Hangzhou was inhabited five thousand years ago by the Liangzhu culture. The city of Hangzhou was founded during the Qin Dynasty as Qiantang County.

In AD 589, the city was renamed "Hangzhou" and a city wall was constructed two years later. It was the capital of the Wuyue Kingdom from 907 to 978 during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period. It was one of the three great centers of culture in southern China during the tenth century, along with Nanjing and Chengdu .Hangzhou was chosen as the new capital of the Southern Song Dynasty when they regrouped after their defeat at the hands of the Jin in 1123. It remained the capital from the early 12th century until the Mongol invasion of 1276, and was known as Lin'an.

Numerous philosophers, politicians and men of literature, including some of the most celebrated poets in Chinese history such as Su Shi, Lu You, and Xin Qiji came here to live and die. Hangzhou is also the birthplace and final resting place of the scientist Shen Kuo (1031-1095 AD), his tomb being located in the Yuhang district.

Up until the Ming and Qing dynasties, Hangzhou continued to develop its local industry especially in silk weaving, and it thus became the silk center of China. The city remained an important port until the middle of the Ming Dynasty when its harbor slowly silted up. In 1848 during the Qing dynasty, Hangzhou was described as the "stronghold" of Islam in China, the city containing several mosques with Arabic inscriptions. A Hui from Ningbo also told an Englishman that Hangzhou was the "Stronghold" of Islam in Zhejiang province, containing multiple mosques, compared to his small congregation of around 30 families in Ningbo for his Mosque.

In 1856 and 1860, the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom occupied Hangzhou and caused heavy damage to the city. Hangzhou was ruled by Republic of China government under the Kuomintang from 1928 to 1949. On May 3, 1949, the People's Liberation Army entered Hangzhou and the city came under Communist control. After Deng Xiaoping's reformist policies began in 1978, Hangzhou took advantage of being situated in the Yangtze River Delta to bolster its development. Today, Hangzhou is one of the most prosperous cities in China and moreover a famous travel destination for tourists from both home and abroad. 


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