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Sense of history gives Xitang modern appeal

Updated: 2024-05-17 17:22 ( chinadaily.com.cn )
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Water town attracts droves of tourists with its historical, relaxing ambience, Wang Ru reports in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province.

Ascene in Mission Impossible III involving Tom Cruise running through the small alleys of a picturesque town in China left a deep impression on some of those who watched and propelled Xitang, an ancient town in Jiashan county, Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, where the scene was filmed in 2005, to a leading role in tourism.

Walking along Xitang's canals, visitors may feel like they are in a Chinese ink painting with bluestone roads, quaint alleys and houses built in the distinctive style of Huizhou, a historical prefecture that straddled the border between southern Anhui province and the north of Jiangxi province, where homes have white walls, dark tiles and layered horse-head gables.

Even after nearly two decades, the water town is still packed with visitors who come to appreciate its scenery and culture.

Over the ages, Xitang's development has been closely related to culture, which has endowed the ancient town with new grandeur, says Han Jinmei, a cultural scholar from Jiashan county, who is also former deputy director of Jiashan's cultural bureau.

He says that three types of culture are interwoven in the town — farming, commerce and the common culture — and adds that Xitang also has a distinctive farming culture that can trace its roots back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907).

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