Suzhou is almost synonymous with its gardens which are considered to be among the best in the world. According to legend, during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the city had become a garden city with more than 200 gardens some of which have been perfectly preserved over time, such as:
Humble Administrator’s Garden the largest and most renowned among elegant classical gardens in Suzhou. Lingering Garden well-known for the exquisite beauty of its magnificent halls, and, and colors of the buildings. Garden of the Master of the Nets the smallest of the Suzhou residential gardens, yet most impressive because of its creative use of space. Couple’s Retreat Garden features green mountains, water, rockeries, exquisite pavilions and halls, towers, beautiful trees and flowers. Yiyuan Garden one of the youngest and most representative of classical gardens in Suzhou.
Located just northwest of downtown area Tiger Hill is probably one of the most beautiful scenic spots in Jiangsu province. Su Dongpo, a famous Song Dynasty poet, spoke fondly of Tiger Hill, saying, It’s a pity not to visit Tiger Hill when travelling in Suzhou. Tiger Hill is an epitome of serenity with its pagoda and temple. The 1,000-year-old Yunyan Temple and pagoda appear plain, yet are remarkable structures. Tourists can visit the older part of Suzhou and enjoy the scenes of the surrounding countryside by going to the Xiaowu Pavilion, Wangsu, or the Zhishuang Pavilion on top of the hill.
Panmen Scenery Area
Built on the base of some historic sites by using the architectural structure of classical gardens, the Panmen Scenery Area is famous for numerous historic relics and has become a tourist resort in Suzhou. The main scenic spots here are:
Ruiguang Pagoda which is the oldest pagoda in Suzhou. It is as high as 53.57 meters (175.6 feet) and was built in a masonry-timber structure with eight sides and seven floors. In 1978, a little pagoda with Sheli (Buddhist shrine) was found on the third floor of Ruiguang Pagoda and some other cultural relics were also found there, such as Miaofalianhua Scripture written on green paper and bronze Buddhist Statue.
Panmen City Gate first built during the Wu Kingdom of Spring and Autumn Period (770 BC – 476 BC), it is the only well preserved water-and-land city gate in the world and was a place of utmost importance for the army in ancient times. The double water city gate is a pioneering work in architectural history; its tower was built in 1986 to commemorate the 2,500-year-anniversary of the establishment of Suzhou.
Wumen Bridge Not far from Panmen City Gate, visitors can see this bridge that was built in 1084 and is the highest ancient bridge in Suzhou. The bridge is 11 meters (12 yards) high and 66.3 meters (72.5 yards) long with 50 steps on either side of the bridge. Standing on it, visitors can see not only the boats coming and going frequently over the river but also the high pagoda and the beautiful landscape in the distance.
Zhouzhuang Water Town
Zhouzhuang, one of the most famous water townships in China, is only 30 kilometers (18 miles) southeast of Suzhou. It is noteworthy for its profound cultural background, well preserved ancient residential houses, and elegant waterways.
Twin Bridges comprises Shide Bridge and Yongan Bridge are the most famous of the 14 stone bridges offering distinctive views of the water-town. They are symbolic of Zhouzhuang and were built in the Wanli era (1573 – 1619) of the Ming Dynasty.
Fuan Bridge located at the eastern end of Zhongshi Street, it was built in 1355 during the Yuan Dynasty. The unique trait of the Fuan is the consummate combination of the single-arch bridge and the bridge towers which are used as tearooms, restaurants and stores, and are good places to relax and take in the views.
Shen House built in 1742, the house was the private property of the descendant of Shen Wansan, the first millionaire of Jiangnan (South of Yangtze River) in the early†Ming Dynasty.
Chengxu Taoist Temple This temple was built during 1086 – 1093 of the Song Dynasty and is also known as Sanctity Hall (Shengtang Hall). It is one of the most famous Taoist temples in the Wuzhong Region.