"Above the heaven, below Suzhou and Hangzhou. â€œ
â€“ So reads a Chinese proverb, attesting to both towns paradise-likeliness, for which they became well known in China. In case of Hangzhou, it means primarily the landscape surrounding the West Lake, which is a synonym for beauty and romance, as well as the subject of many literary works. The proverb describes similarly appropriate also the townâ€™s character and the typical way of live used in Hangzhou, which is known as being the most joyful and pleasure seeking of all Chinese towns.
The fact that this image is not attached to the town in completely unjustified manner shows a recent inquiry undertaken by a Chinese newspaper. It says that Hangzhou is amongst the bigger towns of China that one with the people who are most satisfied.
That might well have been a reason, why the southern Song Dynasty (1132-1276), in essence a dynasty having been rather weak in military matters, and temporally seen of relatively short life, has chosen precisely Hangzhou as its capital, which was at that time known under the name Linâ€™an. "When will the chanting and dancing around West Lake finally come to an end?â€œ, a contemporary writer of that time complained, who had rather wished the officers would more worry about state affairs then about art, poetry and philosophy.
"If you have great plans, and you intend bringing them along with you to Hangzhou, then you could have a will as strong as possible, but after only a short time will have passed, you will forget your matters and instead stroll around West Lake all the day and drink tea as we do."-
This was said by a Hangzhounese, asked to give reason why, after only short time passed, a firm of his brother went into bankruptcy. And by saying so, he attested that, although name and appearance of the city changed, this can by no means said to have happened to its soul.
Thus, it seems to be all the more appropriate that Hangzhou was chosen to be venue for the "World Leisure Exhibition 2006".
Apart from the West Lake, Hangzhou is also well known for silk and green tea â€“ shopping destination for many tourists is the Hangzhou silk market, which is regularly supplied by several silk manufactures situated nearby from around. In particular, the dragon-fountain-tea (Longjingcha), grown on the hills southwest of West Lake, came to lasting fame thanks to Qing-emperor Quian Long, who praised it as being the best green tea of China. During the course of history, Hangzhou has been attracting admirers ever since up to today.
Amongst them and most known in the western world is Marco Polo, who praised Hangzhou in 13th century as being the â€œmost beautiful and most magnificent town of the worldâ€.