Nantang: Wenzhou’s City Lounge

wenzhou nantang street

The Nantang street is built along the Nantang River in the city of Wenzhou. The river is the northern ending part of the Wenrui River, a river connecting the Wenzhou urban area and Rui’an. Nantang, namely the embankment in the southern city, was intended to prevent seawater from flooding the city in the ancient times.

The history of the Nantang street dates back to the Southern Song Dynasty around 1000 year ago when it was famous for the lotuses in the river. For hundreds of years, numerous men of letters came to appreciate the beautiful scenery and left many poems and articles, among them Wang Xizhi, a famous calligrapher in China’s history, and Xie Lingyun, an ancient talented nature and landscape poet, were the most well-known ones.

In the past, the Nantang street was the only way to the prosperous town of Rui’an, making it always crowded with people. Meanwhile, different folk activities such as lantern floating in the Spring Festival and dragon-boat racing in the Dragon Boat Festival took place along the street, an unforgettable memory for many people in Wenzhou.

wenzhou ancient nantang street

To restore the once prosperous and booming area, the government launched the reconstruction of the street and surrounding areas in 2006. After years of renewal and renovation, the Nantang area has taken on a new look to attract more and more citizens in Wenzhou. Connected by two bridges with Bailuzhou Park, a major park in the city of Wenzhou, the Nantang area has turned into a large-scale commercial complex with different facilities for leisure, shopping, dining, entertainment and cultural events. Thus, the new area is called the city lounge of Wenzhou where people can walk around the neighboring Bailuzhou Park, have a cup of coffee, beer or tea in the cafes, teahouses or beer houses lining Nantang Street, enjoy tasty cuisine of different countries in the surrounding restaurants and spend a happy night at the pubs and bars there.

Culture was once an important ingredient of the Nantang street. To echo with the long history and splendid culture of the ancient street, all the buildings in the Nantang area are constructed in the Ming and Qing style with the traditional white walls and black tiles. Lanterns are put up in the Spring Festival while dragon boats are raced in the Dragon Boat Festival to make another face of the area.

In addition, the corridor along the Nantang street displays Wenzhou’s local folk arts, highlighting rice molding, Ou embroidery, wood sculpture, paper cutting, sugar figure blowing, beancurd making, shadow play and marionette etc as well as old photos and paintings to show the ancient Nantang street. Also, an opera stage in the ancient style is built to put on Peking operas, Shaoxing operas and the local Kun operas for the celebration of different festivals and ceremonies. Across the river from the Nantang street sits the Wenzhou Celebrity Mathematician Museum, once the ancestral home of Gu Chaohao, a famous mathematician born in Wenzhou, which now introduces 29 Wenzhou-born mathematicians with photos, statues, hair embroideries and videos etc.


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