Nestled in beautiful Suzhou, is one of the city’s most famous landmarks, Panmen Gate. This extraordinary historical site is also a scenic area, and a State-protected cultural site. Panmen Gate is ancient, and has a rich history spanning over two thousand years. The site contains numerous highlights including bridges, pagodas, and stunning gardens. With its expansive history and cultural significance, Panmen Gate is an attraction that cannot be missed.
- Panmen Gate is located in the southwest corner of the Main Canal in Suzhou, Jiangsu province.
- Researchers and historians estimate that Panmen Gate about 2,500 years old, having been originally built sometime during the Spring and Autumn Period (771 to 446 BCE).
- The gate is now part of the “Pan Gate Scenic Area”, which is comprised of Panmen Gate, Ruiguang Pagoda, and Wu Gate Bridge.
- Panmen Gate is the only entrance point to the ancient wall that once surrounded the city.
History Of Panmen Gate
Panmen Gate was originally constructed during the Spring and Autumn period (approximately 771 to 476 BCE). In 514 BCE, a city wall was built around ancient Suzhou, which was then the capital of the state of Wu. Panmen Gate was part of that original wall, and was one of eight major gates constructed throughout the ancient city.
The state of Wu lasted from roughly the 11th century BCE to 473 BCE, and was located in modern-day Suzhou, Jiangsu province. The state of Wu was famed for the prowess of its military. Sun Tzu, renowned military strategist, philosopher, and writer was a general under King Helu of Wu. He reputedly wrote the famous military treatise, ‘The Art of War’ while living in Wu.
Panmen Gate in its present form was built during the reign of Emperor Huizong of the Yuan dynasty (1206 CE to 1368 CE) in 1351. The emperor lived from 1320 to 1370, and ruled from 1333 until his death.
In 1963, the “Pan Gate Scenic Area” was deemed a AAAA scenic spot and cultural site protected by the city of Suzhou. In 1982, that protection was shifted to the province of Jiangsu. In 2006, the state inscribed Panmen Gate under its historical site mandate.
Culture Of Panmen Gate
The Pan Gate Scenic Area is comprised of Panmen Gate itself, Ruiguang Pagoda, and Wu Gate Bridge. Panmen Gate is the only well preserved complex of land and water city gates in the world. Its location was of strategical importance during ancient times, as it comprised part of the city wall that surrounded Suzhou. The city wall measures 300 meters (328 yards) long and 5 meters (16 feet) high. In 1986, the Panmen Gate Tower was constructed, to celebrate the 2,500-year anniversary of the establishment of the city.
Ruiguang Pagoda was constructed in 247 CE by Sun Quan (229 to 252), founder of the state of Eastern Wu during the Three Kingdoms period (220 to 280 CE). Throughout the following centuries, Ruiguang Pagoda sustained significant damage from battles and war. It is considered the oldest pagoda to be built in Suzhou. It was constructed out of stone and wood with seven storeys. The pagoda measures 53.7 meters (175.6 feet) high. In 1978, important artifacts were discovered on the third storey of the pagoda, and deemed national grade cultural relics. These included Buddhist relics, a bronze Buddhist statue, and the Miaofalianhua Scripture.
Wumen Bridge is situated close to Panmen Gate. Built in 1084 CE during Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), it is the highest ancient stone bridge remaining in Suzhou. According to historical records, the original bridge was comprised of three smaller bridges, but throughout the centuries, was repaired and rebuilt numerous times. During the Qing dynasty (1644 to 1911), the structure was rebuilt into a single stone-arched large bridge. It measures 66 meters (72 yards) long, and 11 meters (36 feet) high. On either end of the bridge, there are 50 steps leading upwards.
- Panmen Gate is easily accessible via Suzhou public transportation.
- It is open from 7:30 AM to 5 PM, and 6 PM to 8:30 PM daily.
- During the daytime hours of operation, children under 3.9 feet (1.2 meters) gain free admission.
- Part of “Pan Gate Scenic Area” where Panmen Gate is located, are beautiful gardens. Suzhou is world-renowned for its phenomenal gardens.