Located along the side of Lake Taihu in the Yangtze River region, 62 miles east of Shanghai, Suzhou is an ancient cultural city built 2,500 years ago.
Suzhou is crisscrossed by rivers and enjoys a mild and humid climate, easily accessible by water, land and air transportation. Many private gardens were built during and after the Song Dynasty, making the city famous for its awe-inspiring classical gardens. The natural scenery of hills and streams in Suzhou is as charming as a delicate flower. Streets and alleys in Suzhou run parallel to centuries-old canals. Small bridges and flowing waters, white walls and dark gray roof tiles match one another in tranquil elegance. In addition, many historical sites are extremely interesting for visitors.
Most of the gardens in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province were private gardens built in ancient China. They are tranquil, exquisite, elegant, and created to be in complete harmony with nature. The creators of these gardens invented ingenious techniques to put a cramped space to best use. There are flowers and trees, pools, hills, and pavilions within the boundaries, thus forming a natural yet richly landscaped environment. The most famous gardens in Suzhou are the Humble Administrator’s Garden, the Garden to Linger In, the Wangshi Garden, and the Lions Grove.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden
The Humble Administrator’s Garden was built from 1506 to 1521 during the Ming Dynasty. It is regarded as one of the four major gardens in China along with the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Mountain Summer Resort in Chengde, and the Garden to Linger In in Suzhou. It is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and is famous for its water landscapes. The scenery in The Humble Administrator’s Garden is focused on a central pond with various pavilions, terraces, chambers and towers dappled along the water or on hillocks in a natural and unsophisticated composition.
The Garden to Linger In
The Garden to Linger In is another one of the four major gardens in China. It was built during the reign of Emperor Jia Qing of the Ming Dynasty (1522-1566). The garden is a prime example of artfully and architecturally manipulating a given space. It is a typical garden of the Ming period with its characteristic elegance and ethereal nature. The Cloud Crowned Peak located within it is a treasured piece of Taihu rock noted in the region.
Tiger Hill is located in the northwestern outskirts of Suzhou. It is 85 feet high and has been a favorite place for poets, writers and painters for centuries. The hill is of moderate height, but has a large number of historical relics. The 1000-year-old Slanting Pagoda on the hill was built in the year 959 is recognized as the symbol of the ancient Suzhou City.
The Embroidery Research Institute
The Embroidery Research Institute is an organization dedicated to the study of needling techniques and is a part of the Suzhou School of Embroidery. Its other task is to provide the State with embroideries for presentation to foreign countries as gifts or for use as exhibits.
Han Shan and Shi De, eminent monks of the Tang Dynasty, once lived here. The temple is famous for its exquisitely designed halls, as mentioned in a poem by the Tang Dynasty poet, Zhang Ji, who wrote, “Beyond the Suzhou walls, the Hanshan Temple, rings bells, which reach my boat.” On every New Year’s Eve, the bell rings 108 times to welcome the New Year and has become a special tour feature.
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