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Suzhou Lingering Garden Introduction


Suzhou Lingering Garden(留园), one of the four most renowned classical gardens in China(the other three are Suzhou Humble Administrator’s Garden, Beijing Summer Palace and Chengde Summer Resort), is located outside Changmen Gate in Suzhou. With a total area of 23,300 square meters, Lingering Garden originally was a private garden highlighted with an architectural style of Qing Dynasty, exquisite garden layout design and rockeries. It was constructed in the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty (1593 A.D.). Up to today, it has a history more than 400 years. In 1961, Lingering Garden was listed into the first batch by the State Council t as the important cultural relic under the national protection. In 1997, this garden was written into the list of World Cultural Heritage Site together with the Humble Administrator’s Garden. In 2012, as the extension of Suzhou classical gardens, Lingering Garden was approved to be a Five-A tourist attraction.

Lingering Garden boasts a good number of very attractive limestone peaks from Lake Tai with grotesque shapes. An artificial hill made of rocks from Taihu Lake is also always a major component of Suzhou gardens. The 6.5-meter-high Cloud-Capped Peak in this garden, which is the highest of its kind found in Suzhou's classic gardens, is believed to have been a collection from Northern Song Dynasty. Weighing about five tons, the limestone is supposed to have been carried here from the Taihu Lake, 40 km away. The number of steles in the Lingering Garden has never been surpassed by any other garden in Suzhou. Masterfully inscribed with the works of over 100 calligraphers in the Jin, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, they illustrate the evolution of Chinese calligraphy during the past 1,000 years. By the way, the garden is also the best place of Suzhou to enjoy Pingtan and Guqin music together with the calligraphy exhibition, and three of them are all the UNESCO Intangible World Heritage Arts.

suzhou lingering garden
The Cloud-capped Peak in Suzhou Lingering Garden, One of Four Most Well-known Classical Gardens in China

The History and Attractions of Suzhou Lingering Garden

The history of garden can be traced back to 1593, and a retired official named Xu Taishi(徐泰时) ordered the construction of the garden. The inside rockery designed by Zhou Bingzhong(周秉忠), a famous garden rockery designer (Stonemason) in Ming Dynasty. In the reign of Emperor Jiaqing of later Qing Dynasty, the garden was bought by Liu Shu(刘恕), a calligraphy lover. He preferred the collections of grotesque stones. And he also had masterpieces carved on both sides of the corridors of the buildings. His work was then modeled by the succeeding owners. He changed the name to be Hanbi Shanzhuang(寒碧山庄, Hanbi Mountain Villa) , which locally is also called Garden of Liu Family(刘园).

Later, it was purchased by Sheng Xuren(盛旭人), who was the father of Sheng Xuanhuai(盛宣怀, 1844 -1916), a great politician and educationist, and the founder of Tianjin University and Shanghai Jiaotong University).The whole garden was resurfaced and extended. Just for the same pronunciation of Liu(刘) and Liu(留), this garden was initially named Liuyuan Garden or Lingering Garden. Yu Yue(俞樾, 1821-1907), the last top winner(状元) of imperial examination in ancient China and the greatest educator, calligraphist and scholar of modern China, wrote a prose named Liuyuan Youji(留园游记, A Travel Impression on Lingering Garden). In the article, he commented this garden the No.1 among gardens in Suzhou, due to its great design and the unique classical gardening art. After Xinhai Revolution (1911), the Lingering Garden and other possessions of Sheng Xuren were confiscated by the revolutionary army. The Lingering Garden experienced several damages in the following years. During the anti-Japanese war, Suzhou Lingering Garden became a big staple for Japanese. In new China, it was well protected and successfully written into the national key cultural sites and the list of World Cultural Heritage Sites. The most famous tourist attractions in Lingering Garden are the Cloud-capped Peak, the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks, the Hanbi Mountain Villa, the Pellucid Tower and the Fish Fossil. The detailed depictions of these highlighted sites hereinafter:

The Cloud-capped Peak(冠云峰) is 6.5-metre-high, and is one of the most outstanding Taihu Lake Stones. It is the finest and highest limestone in Suzhou, believed to be left behind by the imperial collector of the Northern Song Dynasty.

The Celestial Hall of Five Peaks(五峰仙馆) is a main hall in the Lingering Garden. Probably no other building in the south of the Lower Yangtze can match it for its extraordinary vast size. In front of the hall is a mountain made of limestone winding and undulating along as the five famous peaks are at Lushan Mountain.  

The Hanbi Mountain Villa(寒碧山庄), popularly known as the Lotus Hall, is a chief building in the middle part of the garden. It is tall, roomy, properly furnished and carefully positioned with respect for the nearby pavilions, picturesque landscape and waterscape.

The Pellucid Tower is an exquisite two and a half storied building with a uniquely designed mountain path winding upward. The idea comes from A Commentary on the Book of Rivers (水经注), saying, "目对鱼鸟,水木明瑟"(Watching fishes and birds by the pellucid water and trees).

The Fish Fossil is a natural picture on a piece of marble. The patterns on the marble are looks like a stream surround by mountains, and cliffs. On the higher part, there is the clouds, and a white spot, which can be taken as the sun or moon. The marble is more than 1 meter wide, but only 15 millimeters. It was from the Cangshan Mountain, Dali, Yunnan Province. People are wandering that how it was delivered from thousands miles away.

Qixian Pavilion of Lingering Garden Traditional Music Show in Lingering Garden
The Cloud Capped Peak of Lingering Garden The View of Suzhou Corridor
Pingtan Show of Suzhou Lingering Garden The Pingtan Show in Suzhou Lingering Garden

The Layout of Suzhou Lingering Garden

Lingering Garden is celebrated for its artistic way of dealing with the spaces between various kinds of architectural forms and garden courts, which have successfully created the feeling of depth. The layout of Suzhou Lingering Garden is quite delicate. It combines tranquil natural scenery with manmade buildings organically. This garden consists of residences, private gardens and ancestral temples surrounded by the blend of flowers and trees harmoniously. The garden generally consists of four parts, namely the central, eastern, western and northern parts. They are divided according to the location and style of the buildings. A corridor measured 700 meters connects the four parts. And on the wall of the corridor, calligraphy carved on the stone can be found along the way. Four sections in Suzhou Lingering Garden are highlighted with different sceneries respectively.

The east part of the garden featuring happy grouping of fancy building and garden courts is the essence and origin of the whole location. The others were added later. There is a zigzagging corridor from the main gate of the garden leading visitors to the central part.

The northern part featuring the idyllic scenes of humble huts enclosed with bamboo fences was used as a vegetable field in ancient times, but now it was used to be locations for exhibiting bonsai, which is preferred greatly by locals of Suzhou.

The central part generally highlighted with the marvelous landscape garden with age-old trees features the pools and hills in west and classical buildings in east. In the east of the central part stands the Celestial Hall of Five Peaks, which is the largest hall in the complex. The beautiful natural scenery is the most characteristic feature in west of the central part. The rockery in the garden was built from soil and grotesque stones in ancient time. The hill is covered with maples, and the hill became extraordinarily beautiful when all the leaves turn red in autumn.

The western part highlighted with the delights of wilderness of woody hills, is enchanting for its natural scenery. It is a large rockery built from stacked stones and soil during the Ming Dynasty. Maples cover the hill. When all the leaves turn red in autumn, it is extraordinarily beautiful.

 The Highlighted Attractions of Suzhou

masters of the nets garden suzhou lingering garden suzhou shantang street suzhou tiger hill
Master of the Nets Garden Suzhou Lingering Garden Suzhou Shantang Street Suzhou Tiger Hill
suzhou humble administrator garden suzhou hanshan temple suzhou silk museum suzhou shantang kunqu opera house
Suzhou Zhuozheng Garden Hangzhou Hanshan Temple Suzhou Silk Museum Shantang Kunqu House

 The Travel Guide of Suzhou

suzhou travel suzhou tours suzhou attractions suzhou travel tips
Suzhou Travel Suzhou Tours Suzhou Attractions Suzhou Travel Tips

Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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