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Home East China Attractions Yangzhou Slender West Lake

Yangzhou Slender West Lake Scenic Area Travel Guide


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The Slender West Lake Scenic Area is located in north area of downtown Yangzhou. Known as the north West Lake, which is located in Hangzhou, the Slender West Lake is also highlighted with its cultural, historical and natural landscapes. Just like the cultural image of Yangzhou in the literature of classics, the Slender West Lake is the symbol of Yangzhou in culture and history. In 1988, this site was ranked by the State Council as the national key cultural heritage with great historic & cultural value and high classical garden feature. In 2010, Yangzhou Slender West Lake was crowned an honored title – Five- A scenic site, which is the top honor for tourist destinations in mainland China.

The History of Yangzhou Slender West Lake

The Slender West Lake actually was a wide waterway outside downtown Yangzhou. Originally named Baoyang Lake, the Slender West Lake has an area of over 480 mu and a length of 4.3 kilometers. In Tang and Song Dynasties, it was the moat of Luo Town of Tang Dynasty and Da Town in Song Dyansty. It extends from Beicheng River of the north to the foot of Shugang(蜀冈). In Ming and Qing Dynasties, the considerably rich salt businessmen settled down on both sides, due to the special location of Yangzhou in the line of Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, which used to be the main waterway of business and transportation between south China and north China. The great merchants paid a lot to invite many gardening masters and stonemasons to design and build the garden around the Slender West Lake. Most of these salt businessmen were from Huizhou, and they were historically called Huizhou Merchants represented by Jiang Chun(江春), who was a close friend of Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty, and his story to build the White Pagoda overnight on Slender West Lake becomes a famous analects in local history. Therefore, many buildings around this lake are strongly featured of the architectural style of Huizhou.

As for the classic sites in the Slender West Lake Scenic Area highlighted with culture and history, they can be summarized to be 24 classic views, which are respectively constituted of Juanshi Dontian(卷石洞天), Xiyuan Qushui(西园曲水), Hongqiao Lansheng(虹桥览胜), Yechun Shishe(冶春诗社), Changdi Chunliu (长堤春柳), Hepu Xunfeng(荷浦薰风), Biyu Jiaoliu(碧玉交流), Siqiao Yanyu(四桥烟雨), Chuntai Mingyue(春台明月), Baitan Qingyun(白塔晴云), Snaguo Liucong(三过流淙), Shugang Wanzhao(蜀岗晚照), Wansong Diecui(万松叠翠), Huayu Shuangquan(花屿双泉), Shuangfeng Yunzhan(双峰云栈), Shanting Yetiao(山亭野眺), Linshui Hongxia(临水红霞), Lvdao Xianglai(绿稻香来), Zhushi Xiaolou(竹市小楼), Pinggang Yanxue(平岗艳雪), Lvyang Chengguo(绿杨城廓), Xianghai Ciyun(香海慈云), Meiling Chunsheng(梅岭春生), and Shuiyun Shenggai(水云胜概) . The whole scenic area was highly valued by emperors. Emperor Kangxi and his grandson, Emperor Qianlong, evenly visited Jiangnan area for six times, and all stayed here for a whole. They both give this scenic area a high comment.

slender west lake yangzhou
The Slender West Lake View of Yangzhou

And the origin of the Slender West Lake is closely connected with a poem created by Wang Hang(汪沆), a poet living in Yangzhou, and he wrote a poem to release his mind on the luxurious life of businessmen.

垂柳不断接残芜-The extended willows connected with the wild area
雁齿红桥俨画图-The delicate steps and the red bridges look like in the painting
也是销金一锅子-It is actually a rich man’s paradise just as Hangzhou
故应唤作瘦西湖-Therefore, it is called the Slender West Lake

The characteristic of the Slender West Lake is its slender and long shape. Dozens of private gardens and pavilion together form a grand view like the hills. After 1815, as the declination of salt industry in Yangzhou, the gardens around the lake gradually turned desolate. After that, the wartimes of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom directly caused the breakage of the garden. In 1980, the 24 bridges site, Xichuntai and Juanshi Dongtian were all restored. In 2007, the sites like Siqiao Yanyu and Shibi Liucong were resurfaced.

The Highlights of Tourist Attractions in Slender West Lake Scenic Area

People having been to the Slender West Lake Scenic area always depict it as a traditional Chinese painting- Poetic, Classic and Traditional. There are 36 west lakes under the heaven, and the best one is Hangzhou West Lake, and the most unique one is Slender West Lake of Yangzhou. The whole slender water area is dotted with many delicate decorations of buildings, pagoda, towers, pavilion and corridors. It is a typical outdoor exhibition of Chinese gardening art. The highlighted tourist attractions in Slender West Lake Scenic Area are listed hereinafter:

Dahong Bridge(大虹桥, Grand Rainbow Bridge) – there is a classic ci(词, a classic literary style popularized in Song Dynasty of China, the expression way basically is between the traditional poem and the prose)

扬州好, 第一是虹桥 – What a beautiful Yangzhou ! The first is the Bridge of Rainbow
杨柳绿齐三尺雨 – The willows make three inches rain green and orderly flow
樱桃红破一声萧 – A red point of cherry breaks through the desolation
处处驻兰桡 – Orchid oars are kept all the sites that people come and go

These great words illustrate the beauty of this bridge. It used to attract plentiful talents and scholars here to have literary party and creation. And surely a lot of valuable legacies and touching stories are left. In Qing Dynasty under the reign of Emperor Kangxi, there was a poet named Wang Yuyang(王渔洋) created a poem to depict the view of this site:

红桥飞跨水当中-The red bridge crosses over the water
一字栏杆九曲红-A baluster links to nine turnings of the red
日午画船桥下过-At noon, the cruises go through the bridge
衣香人影太匆匆-Beauties come and go in a rush

Five Pavilions Bridge(五亭桥, Wuting Bridge) - Five Pavilions Bridge or Wuting Bridge is the landmark of the Slender West Lake and also becomes the symbol of Yangzhou. Originally built in the 20th year of Emperor Qianlong’s region, up to today, it has a history over 200 years. There are five unique pavilions built on the bridge, which look like the lotus flower above the water. The bridge pier is built by 12 big bluestones. The whole bridge is quite beautiful. Mao Yisheng(茅以升), the most famous bridge expert of modern China, commented it in a comparison : The oldest bridge of China is Zhaozhou Bridge, and the most magnificent and beautiful bridge is Lugou Bridge (Macro Polo Bridge), and the most artistically beautiful bridge is Five Pavilion Bridge of Yangzhou. Also, the Five Pavilion Bridge is also the best site to view the moon traditionally. The bridge has fifteen holes, and in the full-moon night, there are 15 moons in 15 holes. A classical verse like this:

天下三分明月夜-Of all the moonlit nights in the world,
二分无赖是扬州-Why, oh why, 2/3 of them are found in Yangzhou?

Yangzhou is the moon city of China, and the best site to view the moonlight is this Five Pavilion Bridges in the Slender West Lake Scenic Area. Seen on the Five Pavilion Bridge, the remote lake view looks like a classic painting. On the east of the bridge, there is an architecture called Fuzhuang(凫庄, Mallard Villa), which was built in 1921 for its shape like a wild duck. It is an essential part to show the beauty of the Five Pavilions Bridge and the White Pagoda

Dahong Bridge(The Grand Rainbow Bridge) Wuting Bridge(The Five Pavilion Bridge)
The Cruise of The Slender West Lake Little Jinshan Mountain
Xichun Tai(Crowded Spring Platform, a Grand Tower) Diaoyu Tai(Fishing Platform, a Pavilion)

Little Jinshan Mountain(小金山, Little Gold Mountain) – Little Jinshan Mountain or Little Gold Mountain is the largest isle in the Slender West Lake, and also the area with the largest number of architecture. The wind pavilion, the blowing platform, guqin room, muxi study, chess room and moon pavilion. About the name origin of Little Jinshan Mountain, it is named after the Jinshan Mountain or Gold Mountain, a famous Buddhist mountain for Jinshan Temple in Zhenjiang. There is a story. Two monks from Yanghzou and Zhenjiang had a free chat. The monk of Zhenjiang said that the green mountains also hate the vulgar of Yangzhou, and then many of them do not go across the Yangtze River. The monk of Yangzhou disagreed with him, and then betted via playing chess. As a result, the monk of Yangzhou succeeded, and this site was named officially Little Jinshan Mountain. And he also hang a pair of couplet:

弹指皆空,玉局可曾留带去-all is emptiness every moment, and nothing was carried away including the chess board
如拳不大,金山也肯过江来-it is as small as the fist, and Jinshan Mountain is also willing to go across the Yangtze River

The monk of Yangzhou just used a Chinese character “小”(little) and successfully moved Jinshan Moutnain from Zhenjiang to Yangzhou. Actually, the Little Jinshan Mountain is highlighted with a bizarre rock, which was a remainder of Huashi Gang(花石纲, Flower-Stone Imperial Collection, it is a special transportation of unique flowers and stones to satisfy the Emperors in Song Dynasty, especially to meet the needs of Emperor Huizong. Actually, Gang means a transportation fleet. Generally, ten ships together is called Gang). At the time Emperor Huizong, the last emperor of North Song Dynasty (960-1127), was fond of the weird flowers and unique stones. On his 60th anniversary of birthday, he decided to build a longevity hill in Kaifeng. This is a rock of stalactite from Guangxi province. During its transportation, it was lost in Yangzhou due to the Peasant Insurrection of Fang La, and it is also the largest stalactite of Yangzhou. The top point is Wind Pavilion, which is also the highest point of the Slender West Lake Scenic Area. It is traditionally is the great site to view the moonlight.

Xichun Platform(熙春台, Crowded Spring Platform) – is the highlights of 24 bridges scenic spot, which include Xichun Platform, Linglongjie, Xiaojiangjun Huaben, Wangchun Tower and 24 Bridges. It is opposite to the Little Jinshan Mountain. Xichun as a name from the Book of Lao-tzu- “众人熙熙,如登春台”(the crowed world looks like the spring platform). It means a busy and crowded area. Xichun Platform is the center of Chuntai Mingyue(春台明月, The Bright Moon of the Spring Platform, one of 24 classic views of the Slender West Lake Scenic Area) , Yu Dafu(郁达夫), an influential author of the modern China commented the moon view from Xichun Platform is one of four most classic autumnal views in south China. it was said that this area used to be the site of Yangzhou salt businessmen offered birthday congratulations to Emperor Qianlong, so this site was also called Chuntai Zhushou(春台祝寿). The architectural style around the Xichun Platform thoroughly expresses the magnificence of royal gardens.

Siqiao Yanyu(四桥烟雨, the Misty Rain of Four Bridges) – also called Yellow Garden is one of the villas built four brothers with a surname of Huang(Yellow), who were the famous businessmen of salt. They preferred to establish the garden. Their private gardens are respectively called Yiyuan Garden, Shijianfanghua Garden, Rong Garden and Biepu Garden. The second elder one built several gardens, and Siqiao Yanyu garden is one of them. Why it was called Siqiao Yanyu? Because people can partially see four great bridges in the Slender West Lake Scenic Area (Dahong Birdge, Changchun Bridge, Chunbo Bridge and Lianhua Bridge), when they stand on the buildings in garden. It is really a fascinating view seen from the building. Many salt businessmen of Yangzhou liked money, gardens, poems and elegance. This is also a memorable site of Yangzhou.

Other typical tourist attractions also include Siqiao Yanyu Scenic Area, Songjiacheng River Wedland Park, Banghua Village,Wanhua Garden, Xuyuan Garden, 24 Bridges Scenery, Yueguan, Wangchun Tower, Fishing Platform. They are all the classic views of the Slender West Lake Scenic Area.

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Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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