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Changzhou

Changzhou (also called Ch'ang-chou or Changchow) is a prefecture-level city in southern Jiangsu Province of China. It was also known as Yanling, Lanling, Jinling, and Wujin previously. Located on the southern bank of the Yangtze River, Changzhou borders the provincial capital of Nanjing to the west, Zhenjiang to the northwest, Wuxi to the east, and the province of Zhejiang to the south. The city is situated in the affluent Yangtze Delta region of China.

History
Only 8 km from Changzhou City are the remains of an ancient walled town, founded over 3000 years ago at the beginning of the Western Zhou dynasty. The earliest record of a settlement on the site of modern Changzhou is of a commandery (a district under the control of a commander) founded in 221 BC. Changzhou got its present name, which means "ordinary prefecture", in 589 AD. After the Grand Canal was constructed in 609 AD, Changzhou became a canal port and transshipment point for locally-grown grain, and has maintained these roles ever since. The rural counties surrounding Changzhou are noted for the production of rice, fish, tea, silk, bamboo and fruit.

During the Taiping Rebellion of the 1850s, one of 5 palaces housing the leaders of the so-called "Kingdom of Celestial Peace" was constructed in Changzhou. Today the ruins of the "King's Palace" can be found near the People's No.1 Hospital.

In the 1920s, Changzhou started to attract cotton mills. The cotton industry got a boost in the late 1930s when businesses began relocating outside of Shanghai due to the Japanese occupation. Unlike many Chinese cities, Changzhou continued to prosper even during the upheavals of the cultural revolution of 1966-76. Today it is an important industrial center for textiles, food processing, engineering (diesel engines, generators, transformers and other machinery), and high technology.

Culture and Folklore
Changzhou belongs to the Taihu Wu Chinese language region so the native dialect is very similar to Shanghai dialect; but such as Jintan and Liyang city, they are in close proximity to the border of the Mandarin Chinese language region and is said to have some characteristics of Mandarin. The dialect is referred to locals as Changzhou dialect.

Comb Lane in Changzhou is the scene of the last farewell of Jia Baoyu with his father in the classic novel A Dream of Red Mansions. Other famous handicrafts of Changzhou are the "crisscross" style of silk embroidery and carvings made from green bamboo.

Famous snacks made in Changzhou include pickled Radish, Sesame Candy, Sweet Glutinous Rice Flour Dumpling With Fermented Glutinous Rice, and Silver Thread-like Noodles. A good-natured rivalry exists between Changzhou and the neighboring city of Wuxi.

Tourism
Changzhou is famous for the China Dinosaur Park located in the new North district of the city. The Dinosaur Park contains dinosaur bones and fossils from all over China. The park has 50 various fossils and more than 30 amusement programs including but not limited to: The Brontosaurus Roller Coaster and The Whirling Dinosaur Carriage. The fossils are located in a museum housed in a single building and the amusement rides are spread throughout the park which is categorized into 6 themed areas. Besides fossils and family oriented rides, Dinosaur Park is home to a giant panda and sea lions.

The city is also home to the Tianning Temple-one of the largest Zen Buddhist temple and monastery in China. The city has recently rebuilt the Tianning pagoda on the Temple grounds, which are adjacent to Hongmei Park. The pagoda, called Tianning Baota, was first built during the Tang Dynasty. It has since been destroyed and rebuilt five times. The current reconstruction is built to the height specification of 153.79 meter (504.56 ft). This makes it the tallest pagoda in China and perhaps also the world. Both the Hongmei Park and Tianning Temple are located just to the east of the city center.

As Changzhou is famous for its combs, the city has reconstructed its Bamboo Comb Lane area with period architecture. Certainly, Changzhou combs can be purchased in most places in the city.

Another site in Changzhou worth mention is Hong Mei Park, which includes a small children's amusement park, a zoo, a rose garden and many scenic waterways. Of historical interest in the park is a historical pavilion with exhibits related to the famous Changzhou comb industry. In addition to this, there is another pavilion which displays locally produced root carvings. The park is a big attraction on holidays and is often dotted with a variety of vendors.

Other sites include Changzhou's sunken city and area of archaeological ruins from the Spring and Autumn Period. Changzhou also has attractive gardens such as WeiYuan.

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