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Useful Information | The Humble Administrator's Garden | Lingering Garden | Panmen Gate | The Lion Grove | The Canglang Pavilion | Garden of Master of the Nets | Tiger Hill | Hanshan Temple | Guanqian Street | Suzhou Silk Museum | Tongli Ancient Town | The Twin Pagodas | Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal | The Garden of Harmony | Suzhou Museum | Maple Bridge | Suzhou Opera Museum |

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The Humble Administrator's Garden

Located in northeast Suzhou, it is the largest private garden in the city. It's a more traditional "outdoors" garden with streams, ponds, bridges, and islands of bamboo forests. It was constructed in the 1500s in the Ming Dynasty by Wang Xianchen, an imperial censor. Wangxianchen gave his garden this name, meaning humble Administrator's Garden, because it was built after he was dismissed from the imperial court.

The complex consists of four parts: the eastern, central, western parts and a dwelling quarter. The dwelling quarter is filled with typical Suzhou architectures which used to be residential houses for the administrator and his family, which now serves as the exhibition halls of the Museum of the Gardens. The eastern part features pine forests and lawns, bamboo groves and flowing water. Many famous attractions here include Orchid Snow Hall, Dotted Clouded Peak, Lotus Flower Waterside Pavilion and much more. In the center part, visitors will find pavilions, mansions, corridors, lush vegetations and willow sheltered ponds. The main attraction in the western part is the 36 Mandarin DucK Hall. Ponds, corridors, terraces also scatter everywhere in this part.

The large garden will afford a leisure walk and stroll around for an hour or so. The layout, natural and unsophisticated, is a manifestation of the Ming Dynasty landscape art.

Lingering Garden

One of the four renowned gardens in Suzhou, Liuyuan, or Lingering Garden, was first built in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was rebuilt by a Qing official. Its Taihu Lake rocks boost its reputation both at home and abroad.

The core of the two-hectare garden is a pond, with hills to the northwest and buildings to the southeast responsible for a good many of the contrasting effects. The eastern section features mainly halls and courtyards. The imposing Wufengxian (Five-Peak immortals) Hall is the largest hall of all the Suzhou gardens. The western section is dotted with vegetation whereas the northern section is reminiscent of a peaceful countryside.

Panmen Gate

Located at the southwest corner of the city, the Panmen Gate was first constructed in 514 B.C. The much younger present one was built in 1351, consisting of two water passes, two land gates, an ambush area outside a city gate, a city tower and city walls on both sides,  which are rarely seen in the rest of the country. Panmen Gate towers in a majestic manner.

Inside the gate are the Ruiguang Pagoda and Wumen Bridge, which, with the gate, make up the three Sights of Panmen. A seven-storey octagonal architecture, the Ruiguang Pagoda is the oldest Buddhist pagoda in the area. Taking a shape of a full moon, the Wumen Bridge is a typical over- water bridge in the Southern Reach of the Yangtze River.

The Lion Grove

Lion Grove is another interesting garden in Suzhou, which is well-known for oddly-shaped rocks and deep caves. Like the Humble Administrator's Garden, this one was also built hundreds years ago in the Yuan Dynasty. A monk called Tian Ru constructed this garden to commemorate his teacher. The garden's name comes from the rocks' resemblance to lions.
Occupying an area of over one hectare, Lion Grove is filled with rockeries of various shapes and sizes, which have made the garden the "Kingdom of Rockeries" in China. Qing Emperor Qianlong once paid a visit to Lion Grove and was impressed by the intricate labyrinth of caves there. Delighted, he wrote the inscription "Really Interesting".

The buildings in Lion Grove are representative works of the Yuan-dynasty architecture.

The Canglang Pavilion

Not only one of the four most renowned Suzhou gardens, Canglangting is also the oldest existing garden in the city and a model of Song-dynasty gardens. It was first constructed in the 10th century, and Su Shunqin, a poet of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), gave it this name, meaning Surging Wave Pavilion.

Breaking away from the traditional style of encircling tall walls, its layout allows a combination of inside and outside natural landscape. Long corridor traces the bank of the pond right outside the garden. The rocks, winding corridors and flowery walls are the three characteristic features of Canglang Pavilion.

Garden of Master of the Nets

Also called Fisherman's Garden, this is the smallest garden yet supposed to be the most delicate one in the city. The 0.6-hectare garden is an elegant structure of a typical official's residence in the Qing Dynasty.

The present garden is found on the former site of a Song dynasty official's mansion. Its owner, an early Qing-dynasty official Song Zongyuan, gave its present name based on the earlier one, "Fisherman's Retreat". 

Garden of Master of the Nets consists of a residential quarter and the garden proper. Inside the refined residential quarter, the halls are linked closely by a corridor. The garden, petite but substantial, is focused on a pond and decorated with plants, rocks, pavilions, and stone bridges.

The garden is especially fancied by overseas visitors and is praised as the most ornate and intact private gardens in Suzhou. Some tourists even offer a huge amount of money to buy it.

Tiger Hill

The 36-meter-tall Huqiu (Tiger Hill) stands outside the lumen Gate to the north west of Suzhou. It was where the King of the State of Wu( a small state in the Spring and Autumn Periods over thousands of years ago) Fu Chai, buried his father-Helu along with 3,000 swords. Legend has it that on the third day after the burial, a white tiger appeared to guard the tomb, hence the name of the hill.

Midway up the hill beside the Qianren (Thousand Men) Rock, there is the rectangular crystal-clear Sword pond flanked by sheer cliffs. It is said that both Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of Qin Dynasty (221-207 B.C.), and Sun Quan of the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), had sent people to search the swords by digging into the hill but no avail. The Sword Pond is believed to result from the digging.

According to records, the door of He Lu's tomb was revealed once when the pond went dry. Archaeologists speculated that the tomb is right below the Tiger Hill Pagoda. This pagoda, first built in the Five Dynasties Period, is an octagonal seven-storey structure. Since the Ming Dynasty, it started tilting northwards, which has been supposed to be caused by the tomb's structure.

The Yunyan Temple, another key attraction on the hill, is one of the most famous Buddhist land in this part of China. Even Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty could not resist its peaceful ambience so he decided to make the temple his temporary residence during his Suzhou trip.

Hanshan Temple

Right on the Grand Canal, the Hanshan Temple has become the city's most important landmark. The temple was first built between the years 502-519. It was named after Han Shan, a Tang-dynasty monk who lived there. Through the years, the temple had undergone several rounds of destruction and restoration. The existing one is a late-Qing architecture work.

The temple has been immortalized by the famous poem Anchorage by the Maple Bridge written by the prominent Tang Dynasty poet, Zhangji. Zhang's poem reads" The moon is down, the raven calls, the cold frost fills the sky; Off near the Gusu Town( Suzhou) as midnight passes by. The chiming of a temple bell comes to my boat tonight". Visitors can still see the Maple Bridge and the stone inscription of the poem. A large bell not the original one mentioned by Zhangyi in his poem hangs in the bell tower. The original Song bell was somewhere in Japan and this one was contributed by some Japanese. Many Chinese tourists will like to pay a small fee to strike the bell for this practice is believed to bring good luck.

Guanqian Street

The location of this 150-year-old street lying in front of the Xuanmiao Taoist temple explains its name, which means "before a temple". It is known far and wide because of the century-old shops, such as Daoxiangcun, Caizhizhai and Huangtianyuan, established there. Gourmands should not miss the section from Bifengfang to Taijian Alley where restaurants serving authentic Suzhou cuisine are assembled.

The street running 760 meters long, consists of the eastern, middle and western sections. The eastern part is filled with nice ancient buildings of historical significance. The middle is mainly the temple and fashionable shops occupy the western part.  

Strolling on Guanqian Street is a favorite pastime of the locals. Now, the restored street attracts not only Suzhou people but also visitors, as it is an attraction blending business, culture, religion and food delights.

Suzhou Silk Museum

Suzhou Silk Museum is the only silk-centric museum in the world. The museum falls into three parts, the Ancient, Modern and Contemporary Halls. The Ancient Hall mainly display silks from ancient time from the Neolithic Age through the thriving Tang and Song Dynasties to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, explaining the silk production history in ancient China. The modern and Contemporary Halls show the silk process and some products that won international prizes.

Tongli Ancient Town

Tongli is an aged town located a short drive from Suzhou, which is about a hour drive outside of Shanghai. Tongli is over 1000 years old and has only recently been changed into a tourist attraction. The town is characterized by stone bridges and well preserved ancient architecture including private gardens, temples and houses.  

15 small river lanes crisscrossed the town, over which spans around 49 stone bridges in variety of styles. Bridges are important parts of the town. The most famous bridges among the 49 bridges in Tongli are the three bridges called Taiping (peace), Jili (luck) and Changqing (celebration) bridges, which has been important landmarks of the place and regarded as the sacred architecture by the locals. Whenever there is an important occasion, such as wedding, people would like to walk through the three bridges, which is supposed to bring peace, fortune and happiness in their lives.  

Buildings well preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties standing by the rivers fill the town. The traditional gardens are well worth seeing. The Tuisi Garden makes a good example. The garden was constructed between 1885 and 1887 by an imperial scholar. In the garden, pavilions, terraces, halls, rockeries, ponds and other elements of the garden were harmoniously integrated together.

The Twin Pagodas

The Twin Pagodas is part of the Arhat Temple complex, located in the Dingshuisi Lane in Phoenix Street. The two pagodas can be dating back to the Northern Song Dynasty over one thousand years ago. They are two octagonal brick pagoda constructed in a wooden-architecture style. The two structures are exactly the same, same in the shape, size and height, with a distance of 20 meters between them.

Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal

The 1,700-kilometer-long Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is a water conservancy project in ancient China. It begins in Beijing and ends in Hangzhou. First constructed at the end of Spring-Autumn Period, in the 5th century BC, the Grand Canal was extended in the 7th century, and again in the 13th century. It has played an important role in the development of water, conservancy and the economic and cultural exchange between the northern part and the southern part of China. It has become a full of distinguishing cultural tour route.

The Garden of Harmony

The Garden of Harmony otherwise called Yuyuan in Chinese is a newer private garden, which was built in the Qing Dynasty by Gu Wenbin, an official in the Qing Dynasty. The garden borrowed all the stylistic elements of other gardens in the area, caves in the Lion Grove, a stone boat resembling that in the Humble Administrator Garden, corridor like that at Cangliang Pavilion, and so on. The garden is divided into two parts, the eastern and western parts. The eastern part mainly consists of residential buildings, courtyards, while the western part take the middle part of the Humble Administrator's Garden as a model, composed of ponds, flowers, rockeries and oddly shaped rocks.

This garden witnesses fewer visitors and it's a good place for a stroll.

Suzhou Museum

The museum was constructed on the former site of residence of Li Xiucheng, the Duke of Loyalty of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom in the Northeast Street. The museum houses around 3,000 cultural relics including calligraphy works, paintings, porcelain and arts, crafts and so on. There are also 10,000 ancient books and reference materials stored in the museum.

Maple Bridge

The Maple Bridge, Hanshan Temple, Tieling Pass, Maple Bridge Town and the Grand Canal make up the five sights of the Maple Bridge Scenic Area. The bridge was simple, unsophisticated and elegant. Like the Hanshan Temple, this bridge has been also eternalized by the poem Anchorage by the Maple Bridge. From on the bridge, visitor can enjoy a nice view of the ancient city of Suzhou. Tieling Pass, also known as Maple Bridge Watchtower, was a Ming Dynasty architecture, which witnessed ancient Chinese fighting against the Japanese invasion in the Ming Dynasty. Maple Bridge Town is a time-honored town dating back to the ancient Liang Dynasty, over one thousand years.

Suzhou Opera Museum

Located at the Zhongzhanjia Street, the museum consists of buildings well preserved from the Ming and Qing Dynasties with elegant carvings. Suzhou is considered to be the cradle of Kunqu Opera, which is supposed to be the ancestor of all the operas prevailing around the country. Four rooms are arranged to remind visitors of the history of Kunqu Opera, local Pingtan Song( a local folk art of storytelling), Suzhou Opera, and traditional musical instruments. Two stages set in the museum where residents used to watch performance. The museum house a collection of over 10,000 exhibits which showcase the development of Kunqu Opera and Pingtan Song.


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