Zhejiang: A Jewel of Cultural and Natural Beauty

Zhejiang Province/China – Zhejiang Province, located in the eastern part of China, is a land of breathtaking natural scenery, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant economic development. As one of the most developed and prosperous provinces in China, Zhejiang has been recognized as a top destination for both domestic and international travelers. It is also well-known for its several UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Geographically, Zhejiang Province is bordered by the East China Sea to the east, and it shares its borders with Shanghai and Jiangsu Province to the north, Anhui Province to the northwest, and Fujian Province to the south. The province covers an area of approximately 101,800 square kilometers and has a population of over 58 million people. 


As a prominent tourist destination, Zhejiang Province offers a mix of natural and cultural attractions. The province boasts a variety of landscapes, including mountains, lakes, forests, and beaches. The province is home to four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the West Lake of Hangzhou, the Grand Canal, the Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City, and the Jianglang Mountains. Zhejiang Province has 10 items listed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, such as the art of Chinese seal engraving and the traditional firing technology of Longquan celadon.


The highlight of Zhejiang Province is West Lake, one of the most famous and beautiful lakes in China. Located in the heart of Hangzhou city, this cultural landscape encompasses hills, temples, pagodas, and gardens that blend harmoniously with the natural beauty of the lake. It has been an inspiration for poets, artists, and scholars for centuries, and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today, residents and visitors can take a boat ride, stroll along the causeways, or simply enjoy the serenity of the scenery.


The Grand Canal is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that bears witness to the ingenuity and craftsmanship of the ancient Chinese. This 1,797 km waterway, which links Beijing and Hangzhou, was built more than 1,400 years ago and played a crucial role in the transportation of goods and people in ancient China. Visitors can explore the historical relics, traditional houses, and markets along the canal and experience the vibrant culture of the canal towns.


The Archaeological Ruins of Liangzhu City is a testament to the sophisticated civilization that flourished in the lower Yangtze River basin more than 5,000 years ago. The site covers an area of more than 3,000 hectares and comprises a complex of palaces, ceremonial sites, and living quarters that reveal the advanced urban planning, social organization, and technological achievements of the Liangzhu culture.


Apart from the cultural heritage sites, Zhejiang Province is also renowned for its natural beauty. The Jianglang Mountain, located in the southwest of Zhejiang Province, is a natural wonder that showcases the geological, ecological, and cultural diversity of the region. The towering peaks, deep gorges, and cascading waterfalls form a breathtaking landscape that is home to rare species of plants and animals. The mountains also have a rich cultural heritage, with ancient temples, rock carvings, and ethnic minorities adding to the charm of the area. On the opposite side of the province is another place of natural scenery and spiritual significance. The Tiantai Mountain, located in the southeast of the province, is considered one of the sacred mountains of Chinese Buddhism and is home to many ancient temples and monasteries.


Craftsmanship and other intangible cultural heritage are also integral parts of cultural diversity in this region. The Longquan celadon firing technology has been recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity since 2009. This craftsmanship involves a meticulous process of pottery-making that is done entirely by hand. This process includes selecting high-quality raw materials, shaping the clay, firing the pottery in a kiln, and applying a glaze to the surface. The firing process is particularly crucial, as it determines the final colour and texture of the celadon. The final product may take either of two styles: one kind of celadon has a black finish with a crackle effect, while the other variety has a thick, lavender-grey and plum-green finish. 


The skill and expertise required to produce Longquan celadon are passed down from generation to generation, ensuring the continuity of this ancient art form. With its underlying jade-like green colour, Longquan celadon is prized as masterwork-quality art that can also serve as household ware. It is a proud symbol of the cultural heritage of the craftspeople, their city, and the nation. Visitors to Longquan can witness the traditional firing technology of Longquan celadon and try their hand at pottery-making. 


As an independent non-profit organization promoting Europe – Asia relations, Europe – Asia Center’s Brussels office is in partnership with Zhejiang Cultural and Tourism Department to launch promotional products for Zhejiang culture and tourism. Since November 2022, the Zhejiang Culture and Tourism European office has been set up with the mission of promoting local tourism and people-to-people exchanges.