In September 2003, the Beijing section of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in Tongzhou District has been opened after more than a hundred years unusable situation. Tourists can travel by ferry boats to view the landscape on both banks of the man-made river.

The origin of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal traces back to late Spring and Autumn Period. There were many canals in the vast land of China then. The Grand Canal was begun to excavate by the order of Emperor Suiyang in 605 AD. He wanted to link the entire existing canals together to make a new great one. Millions of laborers took about six years to complete the whole project. The gigantic canal work was completed in the Yuan Dynasty in 1292. The Grand Canal has a length of about 1764 km and it is flowing pass through cities and provinces such as Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang etc., as well as linking five great rivers: Haihe, Yellow (Huanghe), Huaihe, Yangtze (Changjiang) and Qiantangjiang in Hangzhou. The canal is the greatest ancient water conservancy project in China as well as the earliest and the longest man-made river in the world.

Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is along with the Great Wall the invaluable treasures in China's cultural history. It has once been the lifeline and support of old Beijing. The rise of ocean shipping and railway transportation in nineteenth century had weakened the functions of the Grand Canal. After the natural shift of waterways of Yellow River in Shandong Province, the water supply was not enough for the canal, thus the river plate could be easily seen and water traffic was hardly possible. After China's liberation in 1949, great efforts have been done to make Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal to be usable again. Today, the canal is also an important route for transferring the abundant fresh water resources in the south to the relatively dry northern China, especially for Beijing. The long history of river transportation and material storage has produced many humanistic relics and abundant ancient architecture.

 

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