• Photo: Peter Guttman/Peterguttman.com

Yangzhou

Despite rapid outward expansion, the historic center of Yangzhou has retained a laid-back feel not often found in Eastern China. Small enough to be seen in a day, its charm may encourage you to linger.

Due to its fortuitous position on the Grand Canal, Yangzhou has flourished since the Tang Dynasty. Drawing on thousands of years as a trade center for salt and silk, Yangzhou maintains a cosmopolitan feel. Indeed, some of the most interesting sites demonstrate a blending of cultures: Japanese relations are evidenced in the monument to Jian Zhen, a monk who helped spread Buddhist teachings to Japan. European influence is seen in the Sino-Victorian gardens of He Yuan, and Persian contact is preserved in the tomb of Puddahidin, a 13th-century trader and descendant of Mohammed.

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