Suzhou, China is a memorable place to visit. Many tourists only pop in for a day trip from Shanghai to view its classical Chinese gardens, but Dave and Deb suggest spending several days to really explore this…
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The city is known for its canals and its exquisite classical gardens.
Source: Discovering Suzhou, China
A guided tour of Nine Classical Gardens in China…
Suzhou is home to several gardens that date back to the 6th century B.C.
Suzhou has more than 60 gardens dating back to 600 AD, and nine have collective World Heritage status…
Gorgeous garden, quaint canals, and a space that’s — unlike other municipalities in China — explorable by foot…
Source: A day in Suzhou, China
On day six of our China adventure we travelled by bus from Hangzhou to Suzhou, our first stop was at the Master of the Nets garden which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The garden demonstrates Chinese garden designers’ adept skills for synthesising art, nature, and architecture to create unique masterpieces which explore the fundamental question regarding the nature of concepts such as being, existence and reality. The Master of the Nets is particularly regarded among garden connoisseurs for its mastering the techniques of relative dimension, contrast, foil, sequence and depth, and borrowed scenery.
The Master of the Nets garden, originally called Ten Thousand Volume Hall, was first constructed in 1140 by Shi Zhengzhi the Deputy Civil Service Minister of the Southern Song Dynasty government who was inspired by the simple and solitary life of a Chinese fisherman depicted in philosophical writings. After his death the garden passed through various owners, subsequently falling into disarray until around 1785 when it was restored by Song Zongyuan, a retired government official of the Qing Dynasty who drastically redesigned the garden and added multiple buildings, while retaining the spirit of the site.
As well as being known as the ‘Venice of the East’, thanks to its network of picturesque canals, the elegant city of Suzhou on China’s eastern seaboard is also famed for its classical gardens.
There are currently 69 gardens preserved in Suzhou, with nine designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site. But what makes Suzhou’s gardens so special? And what should we look out for when we visit them?
Suzhou’s fertile history
Nestled in the lower reaches of the Yangzi River, on the shores of Lake Tai – one of China’s largest freshwater lakes – Suzhou has long benefited from the fertile lands that surround it and the social stability they have supported.
The city we now know as Suzhou was founded in 514BC as the capital of the-then state of Wu. Leaders took advantage of Suzhou’s natural environment, building elegant royal residences and game parks, and the royal court prospered thanks to the rich fishing and rice cultivation on the Yangzi Delta.
In the early 5th century BC, the Wu state fell and King Helü died and was buried at Tiger Hill, still in existence today.