History of Suzhou
Suzhou, the cradle of Wu culture, is a major city in the southeast of Jiangsu Province in Eastern China, adjacent to Shanghai. The city is on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River and on the shores of Taihu Lake and is a part of the Yangtze River Delta region.
Traditional Chinese history credits the Zhou lord Taibo with establishing the state of Wu during the 11th century BC, civilizing the local people and improving their agriculture and mastery of irrigation. The capital of Wu was within modern Suzhou and was known as Gusu or Wu.
In 514 BC, during the Spring and Autumn Period, King Helü of Wu established his new capital nearby at Helü City.
In 496 BC, King Helü was buried at Tiger Hill.
In 473 BC, Wu was defeated by Yue, a kingdom to its southeast which was in turn annexed by Chu in 306 BC.
By the time of the Qin Dynasty, the city was known as Wuxian and was the capital of the Kuaiji Commandery.
During the Tang Dynasty, the great poet Bai Juyi constructed the Shantang Canal (called "Shantang Street") to connect the city with Tiger Hill for tourists.
In AD 1035, the temple of Confucius was founded by famed poet and writer Fan Zhongyan.
In February 1130, the advancing Jin army from the north ransacked the city. This was followed by the Mongol invasion in 1275.
In 1356, Suzhou became the capital of Zhang Shicheng, one of the leaders of the Red Turban Rebellion against the Yuan Dynasty and the self-proclaimed King of Wu.
In 1367, Zhang's Nanjing-based rival Zhu Yuanzhang took the city after a 10-month siege. Zhu – who was soon to proclaim himself the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty – demolished the royal city in the center of Suzhou's walled city and imposed crushing taxes on the city and prefecture's powerful families. However, the city was to see another disaster in 1860 when Taiping soldiers captured the city.
In November 1863, the Ever-Victorious Army of Charles Gordon recaptured the city from the Taiping forces. The next crisis was the Japanese invasion in 1937. Many gardens were devastated by the end of the war.
In the early 1950s, restoration was done on gardens such as the Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden to bring them back to life.
In 1982, Suzhou City was listed by the State Council as one of the four cities of historical and cultural heritage protection. Since then, the city developed into one of the most prosperous one in China.
The Confucious Statue in Suzhou Confucian Temple