The currency or bank notes were officially introduced during this period; not to mention the use of gunpowder, and advanced engineering in buildings. The Songs are also the first to establish a permanent standing navy.
The culture and civilization of the Songs were captured in the establishment of the Song Dynasty City, standing at the south western part of West Lake, with the Wuyun Mountain on its back and the Qiantang River to its south.
A brainchild and joint collaboration between the Hangzhou Worldland and the Song Dynasty Town Co. Ltd, the Song Dynasty City is to date, the largest and also the first dynasty theme park, which incorporates the beauty and enriching culture of the Song dynasty in the designs across the park to provide visitors the insight into the lifestyle during that period.
Integrating the vibrant realities and romance of the lively Song Dynasty, along with the beauty of the famous West Lake drives the objective of the establishment of this city.
The notion of the city, which is also a theme park, is based on the civilization of the 'Two Song Dynasties'; namely the two distinct periods of the Northern Song (960-1127) and Southern Song (1127-1279).
The capital of the Northern Song was initially in the northern city of Bianjing; now known as Kaifeng, and the dynasty ruled most of the inner part of China.
Following their loss to the Jin Dynasty, the Songs lost the northern region of China and were forced to retreat to the southern part of the Yangtze River and established their new capital in Lin'an; now known as Hangzhou.
The design and layout of the Song Dynasty City in Hangzhou captures the essence of the two different periods of the mighty Song Dynasty; maintaining the charm and elegance of both periods and the splendour of the civilization of the paradigm shifts between the periods at a glance when one enters the city.
The city, or theme park introduces the history and culture of the Song Dynasty through the establishment of the various sections depicting the lifestyle and legendary scenes associated with the dynasty; including the reproduction of the scene of the 'Riverside on Qingming Festival' or also a portrayal of 'A Town Street in Spring during the Song Dynasty'.
Original painting, or part of the painting as depicted here
(Source:Cultural China, China gift and fine arts and crafts in china)
The Riverside scene is the first scene to welcome visitors shortly after entering the city from the main entrance at the gates.
(It was undergoing major renovation while I was there).
A few more reproductions of the local scenes of the dynasty to note include:
1. Nine Dragon Square (Jiulong Square)
2. Song Dynasty Town Square
3. Fairy Hill and Wonderful Town Square
4. Emperor Palace
5. Romance of the Song Dynasty
The Song Dynasty Celebrity Bridge pays tribute to the legendary names who contributed to the dynasty and made their names known for ages.
The set inside the palace depicts the grandeur of the palace during the Song dynasty; in the form of the royal assembly hall where the emperor greets his audience comprising of ministers and high ranking officials.
The royal attires worn by the Emperor and his Empress through the different periods were also on display here.
Fairy Hill in the Background
Wonderful Tower Square
Song Dynasty Town Square
A typical magistrate's court
An ancient brothel and winery where sometimes ball tossing competition is held to attract customers
Romance of the Song Dynasty or the Customary Romance streets, which depicts the typical streets/town scene during the period.
Shops line the bustling streets in town; from old-fashioned wineries, restaurants, and small merchandise shops
The beauty of the city is how the workers are all living the scenes from the Song Dynasty in a realistic approach, with the various performances on the streets to replay the typical activities in the ancient days.
For example, the acrobatic performances put on by the commoners back then to earn a living on the streets
There is also an ancient wedding palanquin available for trial rides for a brief 5-10 minutes with a minimal fee charged.
The staff will then escort the visitor in the palanquin on a ride, as practised by the wedding congregation in those days.
The people working and selling food and souvenirs in the shops along the streets or within the city are mostly in costumes/attires dating back to the period of the Song Dynasty, creating the historical atmosphere and realistic ambiance of the scenarios back then, to the delight of visitors like us.
The Song Dynasty City, may at a glance, seem like a normal amusement or theme park to some, especially if you are not familiar with the history of Chinese civilization.
However, the trip is worth the time to take a historical journey down the memory lane of the Song Dynasty with the vibrant scenes creatively and historically recreated to provide visitors with the thorough insight into the lifestyle and culture of the society back then during the period.
It may just be a day that one spends there, but that one day is enough to bring back more than a thousand years of history to one's mind; as the slogan of the city is cited as "One day in Song Dynasty Town for a history of one thousand years".