The cultural heritage of China is evident in its intricate architecture. Chinese architecture is a diverse subject, with different styles being used for religious buildings, palatial construction and public buildings. Nonetheless each and every building that has been built during anyone of the ancient Chinese dynasties exemplifies the creativity of their builders.
The North Temple Pagoda which is the oldest temple in the town of Suzhou is an excellent example of Chinese temple design. It is believed that the Chinese pagoda design is an evolution of the stupa architecture seen in India and Sri Lanka. The purpose of a pagoda or a stupa is to house religious relics and scripture. However many of these constructions went on to become places of veneration for Buddhists as they were considered holy due to the valuable artifacts that were housed within. Chinese pagodas are also known for offering wonderful views of the surrounding landscape from the top and the North Temple Pagoda in Suzhou is no exception.
The North Temple Pagoda is the tallest in the region at a height of seventy six meters. It has classic Chinese Pagoda architecture in its hexagonal base, upon which the structure is built. The building has three areas, the outer cloister, the inner cloister and a square room in the centre. Visitors are allowed to climb the flight of stairs in the inner cloister to the top of the pagoda. From the top they can see a part of the ancient city and the rural landscape that surrounds it with lush green paddy fields and waterways.
The pagoda which has a history dating back more than seventeen centuries is part of a larger complex of buildings belonging to a the Ming and Qing dynasties. To this day a number of well preserved buildings belonging to these eras can be seen in this area. Among these buildings is the Guan Yin Palace which is a thousand year old Ming dynasty building.