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Shipping Canal: Hangzhou Grand Canal

Posted in Shipping Canal - 12 Jul 2021, 3:44 PM

Stretching across 1,200 miles (1,764 kilometers), Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest artificial waterway in China. The canal is also listed among the greatest ones in the world, even surpassing the Suez and Panama Canals in terms of length and historical significance. Having been around for over 2,000 years, this canal is located in the southern parts of Beijing as it connects Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province to numerous river systems across the country.

Since 2014, this canal has been registered on the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. It tells the story throughout different dynasties in the past and offers a variety of wonderful attractions in the present.

A Brief History of Grand Canal

The first official construction of the Hangzhou Grand Canal was dated back to 468 BC. However, throughout history, the canal went through three extensive renovations in addition to the construction process. They happened in 770 BC-476 BC during the Spring and Autumn Period, in 581-618 AD during the Sui Dynasty, and the last one occurred from 1271 to 1368 under the reign of the Yuan Dynasty.

Long before the canal looked as it is today, the King of Wu from the Spring and Autumn Period ordered the Hangou Canal, creating a grand water scheme from Yangzhou to Huai’an. This canal linked several river systems at that time, including Huai River, Jiang River, Ji River, and He River.

The previous canal was expanded centuries later with the order of Emperor Yang from the Sui Dynasty. During his reign, the canal was known as Suitang Great Canal. This expansion marked the current area, stretching the waterway from Hangzhou to Jiangsu Province. It also opened the first transportation hub for oceangoing vessels from North to South China.

The last expansion and renovation of the Grand Canal happened in the Yuan Dynasty. Besides linking the water hub from two separate parts of the country, this big project connected the canal to a multitude of river systems, crossing Jizhou, Tonghui, and Baishui River.

Interesting Activities and Points of Interest

A deep and long history through centuries is not the only interesting thing about Hangzhou Grand Canal. This famous waterway also offers a great number of tourist attractions in different categories, such as:

  • Cultural Relics: Six Harmonies Pagoda of Hangzhou, the Great Wall and the Forbidden City of Beijing, the Linyin Temple, and Tiger Hull of Suzhou.
  • Ancient Towns: Tangli Town of Suzhou or Xitang Town of Hangzhou.
  • Natural Attractions with Beautiful Sceneries: Geyuan Garden, Turtle Head Island, Beijing’s Beihai Park, and West Lake of Hangzhou
  • Tours on Cruise: Ancient Exploration through the southern delta of Yangtze River, a one-day cruise from Hangzhou to Suzhou, as well as some unforgettable night cruises.

As one of the oldest and longest waterways in the world, Hangzhou Grand Canal is undoubtedly a great attraction for anyone. Those visiting this site will have the opportunity to witness the magnificent water channel while immersing themselves in the cultural and historical trips left by the ancient dynasties in China. 

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