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.






Architecture of Symmetry – Suzhou


Garden of the Master of the Nets ~ one of Suzhou’s classical gardens, almost 900 years old. The ‘Net’ garden is smaller than many of Suzhou’s others – but it’s concentrated mix of pavilions, ponds, borrowed views and classical architecture make it a cosy, relaxing place.

Windows in Garden of the Master of the Nets

Note the symmetry of the windows, in their carpentry and positions…

Pavillion in Garden of the Master of the Nets

The perfect symmetry of the book case gives the room an aesthetic, scholarly feel.

Suzhou Gardens
Window in Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou

The intricately carved window frames with its balance and symmetry, the view into the garden.

Window in Wang Shi Yuan, Suzhou

The ‘borrowed view’ from the windows brings the eye to focus on the intriguing shape of the rock outside.

Suzhou architecture
Suzhou Railway Station

The ancient architectural style of Suzhou with its geometric, symmetrical shapes has been honoured by modern-day architects. The Suzhou Railway Station brings visual recall of the old town, with its many classical gardens.

Roof in the Suzhou Museum

The amazing architect IM PEI, responsible for the Glass Pyramid near the Lourve, and the Bank of China building in Hong Kong, designed the Suzhou Museum to honour his hometown. The ceiling has wooden slats  echoing the Suzhounese window style.

Courtyard of Suzhou Museum

The Suzhou Museum, designed by IM Pei, with it’s white-washed walls and geometric symmetry, echoing the old style of Suzhou architecture.

Classical style Jiangnan Suzhou architecture, from the ancient to the new.






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