City Walls and Gates

In ancient China, many cities had walls surrounding them, to protect them from invading armies.


Pan Gate

The water-town of Suzhou( not far from Shanghai) is unique in that there were both land and water gates along the old city walls.

Pan Men water and land gate
Weng Gate in inner courtyard of Pan Men

It was a double fortification – anyone entering via boat through the water gate, then had to face the courtyard where large gates in the wall prevented armies from charging into the city.

When Wu Zixu planned and constructed Suzhou 2500 years ago, he had eight city gates built, placed in the cardinal directions along the city wall.

Over the ensuring centuries, the old gates and city walls have been destroyed and rebuilt numerous times. The Pan Men is in the south-west corner of the Suzhou old city.

Overlooking Suzhou old town from the top of Pan Men
View from Pan Men
Water Gate, Pan Men, Suzhou
Land Gate, Pan Men, Suzhou

The combination of Land and Water Gates along the old city Wall made for an excellent defence mechanism during the ancient times.

View from the top of the old City Wall surrounding Suzhou, showing the canal which leads to the Water Gate, leading to the Land Gate

The city of Suzhou still maintains the same geometric layout, and criss-cross of canals, as it did 2500 years ago when Wu Zixu first planned it. Many old city gates have been rebuilt and give Suzhou a unique feel, merging the ancient city with a modern, bustling town.

Pan Men

Pan Men City Gate along the old Suzhou City Wall.






Author: Debbie

immersed in the ancient culture of china, and its constantly changing facades.... a traveller through time and space landing in suzhou of the 21st century.... australian by birth, traveller by nature, mother of a beautiful ten-year-old

8 thoughts on “City Walls and Gates”

  1. This actually gave me an idea for a future blog post. As I am sulu ally always in xi’an during my travels I have the opportunity to take pictures of the great city wall there 🙂
    So far I have only video material…never took pictures of it except one of the gates two years ago


  2. HI, the city walls in Xian are wonderful – one of the few cities with city walls still intact.
    Xian is a great city – look forward to your post about it 🙂


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