Originally called the Grand City of He Lu (the king who was buried at Tiger Hill), Suzhou is over 2,500 years old. He Lu built Suzhou to dominate the Central Plains, and the gates were used for defense on the canals that linked Suzhou to the rest of China. Of the eight land and water gates built during that time, Panmen Gate is the only one still in existence.
Panmen Scenery Area is located to the southwest of the ancient city of Suzhou with numerous historical sites and landscapes. Ruiguang (Auspicious Light) Pagoda ( national relic first built in 1004 AD), Water and Land City Gates and Wumen Bridge in the area are listed respectively as national, provincial and municipal grade historical relic preservation units. In order to further develop historic culture and speed up the development of tourism, Panmen Scenery Area has in the recent years repaired the ancient city walls, renovated Ruiguang Pagoda yard and reconstructed Hall of Sirui (Four Auspicious Merits), Prime Minister Wu Zixu’s Memorial Temple (Prime Minister of Wu King He Lu) and Freeing Captive Fish Pond. Besides it has built one pond and three hills, planted trees and grass, and constructed scenic spots such as Attractive Scenery Pavilion, Billow Hiding & Green Forest Pavilion, Double-Pavilion Corridor Bridge and Water Curtain Cavity, etc. The area is now a famous tourist attraction representing the special historic and cultural features of Suzhou.
Near the entrance is the Ruiguang Pagoda. Originally part of a Buddhist monastery, it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt on a number of occasions. The current pagoda was reconstructed in 1986. The seven story brick and timber structure stands 53m high, you can climb to the fifth floor for good views of the city.
Crossing a couple of small cement bridges to get into the park, and finally came to the Panmen Gate, a provincial relic that was reconstructed in 1351. On top of the gate were 18th-century Qing Dynasty canons as well, as a stone portcullis that was used to block the gate. From atop the gate, travellers have a good view of the old city walls, as well as the municipal relic, Wumen Bridge, that straddles the Grand Canal.
Panmen Scenic Area is open daily from 8am to 5pm. Ticket：30 Yuan RMB with free local opera show.