In the center of Lu’an City, Anhui Province, at the eastern edge of the mighty Dabie Mountain lies a serene ancient town, Subu, once known in olden times as “little Nanjing” for its prosperity.
The town was first named after a man surnamed Su, who operated a ferry on the Pei River. Over time, it gradually developed into a bustling trading port, and was flooded with merchants from all over the country.
Subu was built in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) and was one of the most prosperous towns in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). In 1932, it was here that General Xu Xiangqian won the Sujiabu Battle against the Kuomintang, one of the most celebrated victories in the history of the People’s Liberation Army.
The old street in the center of Subu Town has retained the same appearance for hundreds of years. When walking on this stone-paved street, one can see ages-old wooden buildings decked with red lanterns.
The Longsheng Rice Store has stood on the street for centuries, along with many other structures that have been listed as historical and cultural sites under government protection.
The smell of sticky corn rice cakes and braised pork is ever present. Dried salted duck, red ramie and seafood dishes are local specialties known across the country.
Just outside the town is Huanglian Temple, which has a history of 1,700 years. Legend has it that when Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) Emperor Taizong ordered the temple torn down, numerous yellow lotus flowers bloomed overnight, shining like gold. This was considered a manifestation of Buddha’s wish that the temple should remain standing. Today, the temple attracts over 100,000 visitors annually.
Time seems to have stopped in this little town where the elderly sit and chat in the sun outside well-preserved buildings.
After 1985, the local government began making plans to boost the economy of Subu while still preserving its ancient character. Its historical streets are all preserved, yet also feature modern shops. Today, local residents hope that this ancient town will shine again with new preservation efforts.
How to get there: It takes about three and a half hours by high-speed train from Shanghai to Lu’an City. Subu Town is 11 kilometers from the center of Lu’an.