longest canal or artificial river in the world located in China
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Itineraries > Asia itineraries > Along the Grand Canal

The Grand Canal (大运河) is in China, an engineering work comparable to the Great Wall. Like the Wall, it is very old and parts of it were built by different dynasties. Unlike the Wall, it is still heavily used and actively maintained today.

At Suzhou

The Canal runs roughly North-South for 1800 kilometers (1100-odd miles) from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou (south of Shanghai) in the south. On the way it crosses two of China's great rivers, the Yangtze and the Yellow River, and passes through many cities. The oldest parts of the canal date to the 5th century BCE, and the various sections were combined during the Sui Dynasty (581–618 AD).

The Canal is now on the UNESCO World Heritage List with this listing.

While the Grand Canal has been a major transport artery for centuries, there are now no scheduled intercity passenger boat services on the canal at all. The Hangzhou-Suzhou passenger line was the last major service to go, in 2006. A small stub line remains, but you can only take it along the portion of the Canal that is within Hangzhou city limits.

The route edit

Modern route

The main canal runs:

In the Suzhou/Wuxi area, Lake Tai is connected to the canal.

Museums edit

  • 1 Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal Museum (中国京杭大运河博物馆) (Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province).
  • 2 China Grand Canal Museum (中国大运河博物馆) (Yangzhou, Jiangsu Province).
  • 3 China Water Transport Museum (中国漕运博物馆) (Huai'an, Jiangsu Province). Huai'an has long been an important port on the Grand Canal. This museum tells the story of Huai'an's role in the transportation of grain to the imperial capital.
  • 4 Sui and Tang Dynasties Grand Canal Culture Museum (隋唐大运河文化博物馆) (Luoyang, Henan Province). When most people think of the Grand Canal, they usually think of the Beijing-Hangzhou canal. In fact, during the Sui and Tang dynasties, the Grand Canal ran all the way to Luoyang. It was only during the Yuan Dynasty, after the capital was moved to Beijing, that Luoyang was cut from the route. This museum displays artifacts from the time when Luoyang was the northern terminus of the canal. The main highlight is two sunken ships that were discovered in 2013.

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