Over 40 percent of the local architecture was constructed during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The most noted structures are the Two-Hall-Three-Bridge, Tuisi Garden, the Former Residence of Jicheng, Gengle Hall, and Huancui Villa.
There are many other old houses like the Tuisi Garden in Tongli. More than 40 percent of all local residences in the town feature the architecture of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), and most of them are wood structures with brick walls and tile roofs. All of the buildings face south. From those old houses, some spanning a street and some built on the water, I experienced the history and culture of the ancient town.
Tongli was once inhabited by families of noble blood who left behind many large courtyards of red-bricked houses and black-tiled roofs. Elaborate wood and brick carvings, charming in their delicacy and elegance, adorn the gates and interiors. These brick carvings are categorized into paintings and calligraphies. The existing brick carvings can be seen on the gates, screens facing the gates, and ridges of old houses and gardens. Besides the Tuisi Garden, there are more than 40 other well-preserved courtyards, such as the Chongben Hall and the Jiayin Hall.
Almost everything, including people's moods, seems washable here, and after a good rinse become totally new. For a visitor from afar, sipping a cup of tea and appreciating the scenery of the water town is a comfortable, joyful experience. Any emotions I had before my arrival seemed to dissolve in the water.
At dawn or dusk, you can walk leisurely along old cobbled lanes, together with two or three friends. No language is necessary. Just watch and listen to feel the silence of the remote past in the carved windows of old residences.
Admission Fee: CNY 80