Originally named Fushi, Tongli is an age-old but very well preserved water township with a history of more than 1,000 years. Located on the eastern shore of Taihu Lake, just 18 kilometers (11 miles) from Suzhou City, Tongli town is 63 square kilometers (24 square miles) in area and has a population of over 33 thousand. True to its reputation, Tongli is a really wonderful travel destination where you can spend a marvelous holiday or experience traditional Chinese culture.
Bridges: These are the vital links between the different parts of town. Forty-nine stone bridges in a variety of styles join the seven islands created by fifteen rivers and five lakes upon which Tongli stands. Each bridge has a name and these examples will give you an idea of the poetic nature of the inhabitants. Perhaps the most notable are Peace and Tranquility (Taiping) Bridge, Luck (Jili) Bridge and Lasting Celebration (Changqing) Bridge. These are known as Ternate Bridges as they cross three rivers at their confluence and form a natural ring road.
The small and exquisite Taiping Bridge was built during the reign of emperor Jiaqing of the Qing dynasty; Jili Bridge is an arch bridge and inscribed with age-old couplets describing the beautiful painting-like views at either end; Changqing Bridge, also named Guangli Bridge, was originally constructed in 1470 and rebuilt by Xiezhen in 1704. Ternate Bridges are propitious symbols in the eyes of the local residents and they walk over them for good luck during wedding or birthday parties. Standing motionless for hundreds of years, the bridges bear witness to the vicissitudes of history and remain an indispensable part of the township.
Residential House: Tongli Town deserves its reputation of a 'museum of ancient architectures' as there are good many houses and temples dating from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Built along the riversides and decorated with flying eaves, carved windows, porcelain furniture, figured clay bricks, dapper gardens and small stairs leading down to the water, these complexes mean Tongli is a shining pearl among the water-towns south of Yangtze River..
Cultural History: Tongli is a town with a profound cultural background and achievement. From ancient times, it has been teeming with poets, painters, Confucian scholars and government officials. Their abilities have made great contributions to progress in many areas of the country. Dozens of stone tablets from different periods are preserved in Tongli and many of the streets are named after their official titles. Walking through the alleys of this venerable water town, one cannot fail to appreciate its pristine and intoxicating atmosphere.
In 1981 Tongli Town was declared one of the thirteen national standard tour towns of the Taihu Lake region. In addition, in 1982 it was listed for protection as the standard provincial town of cultural interest in Jiangsu Province. Tongli is now a highly praised historical site and tourist resort and enjoys increasing popularity with travel enthusiasts.