Suzhou is a major city located in southeastern Jiangsu Province of East China. The city's canals, stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens have contributed to its status as one of the top tourist attractions in China. The classical gardens in Suzhou were added to the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1997 and 2000. Built in 514 BC, this is an ancient city with over 2,500 years of history. The unique characteristics of the past are still retained today. The double-chessboard layout of the city, with 'the streets and rivers going side by side while the water and land routes running in parallel', is preserved intact. Suzhou is often dubbed the "Venice of the East" or "Venice of China". Suzhou is famous for its Classical Gardens, collectively a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Humble Administrator's Garden and Lingering Garden are among the four most famous classical gardens in China. Kunqu originates in the Suzhou region, as does the much later Suzhou Opera. Ballad-singing, or Suzhou pingtan, is a local form of storytelling that mixes singing with portions in spoken dialect. Throughout China's Imperial past, Suzhou silk has been associated with high-quality silk products, supplying silks to ancient royal families. By the 13th century, Suzhou was already the center of the profitable silk trade. Suzhou maintains its importance in the silk industry and any single Suzhou silk product can tell its holder tales of creation, imagination, and beauty. Suzhou's Song brocade, with its flashy colors, exquisite patterns, strong and soft texture, is one of China’s three famous brocades, together with Nanjing Yun brocade and Sichuan Shu brocade.