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Yuyuan Garden


Situated in Anren Jie, Yuyuan Garden is the only fully restored classical Chinese garden in Shanghai. It was initially built by government officer Pan Yunduan in 1577 as a resort for his parents to spend their remaining years in comfort and happiness. “Yu” in Chinese signifies pleasure and satisfaction, thus, the garden was named as “Yu”. As a perfect model of the south Chinese landscaping style garden of the Ming and Qing dynasties, it is a MUST for all tourists coming to Shanghai. Wandering in pavilions, corridors, streams, courtyards and other natural features of the Garden, you will enjoy both the natural beauty and man-made creations.


History


Originally built in the Ming Dynasty, Yuyuan Garden was once a private garden dating back 400 years. The first proprietor of the garden was Pan Yunduan, a Ming-era governor of Sichuan Province. To show his filial piety to his parents and also to make their final years as pleasant as possible, he ordered a private garden to be built in 1559 and named it Yu Garden, implying peace and comfort.

In fact in his own later years, Pan Yunduan made Yuyuan Garden a recreation center for himself. He invited artists to perform opera and fortunetellers to predict his destiny. He also hosted ancestral worship rituals and cricket fights, celebrated birthdays, punished servants and invited prostitutes. People in various professions came and went every day. Due to the long-term extravagance and the large expenses on maintenance and management of the garden, Pan Yunduan’s family fortune declined in his later years. In the end, he had to sell his land and other long-held antiques to make ends meet. The garden gradually fell into ruin. In the late Ming Dynasty, Yuyuan Garden was owned by Zhang Zhaolin. Afterwards, no single family could afford to own such a grand garden. As there was already a garden in the eastern Chenghuang Temple named East Garden, the Yuyuan Garden was regarded as West Garden due to its location.

During the first Opium War, Yuyuan Garden was seized by the British army and  ravaged. In 1853, the Small Knife Society based in Shanghai responded to the Taiping Uprising led by Hong Xiuquan and launched a rebellion, which unfortunately got crushed by the central government. The Manchu army breached the city and caused permanent damage to the garden, inside which the famous buildings like Dianchun Hall, Xiangxue Hall and Guihua Hall, and Deyue Tower were burned to the ground.

In the late Qing Dynasty, commercial business was booming, and the garden was used to host various clubs, along with which restaurants, hotels, and other business arose.

From 1875, the whole garden became a public place and began hosting over 20 enterprises, but remained dilapidated even before the establishment of new China. From 1956, the garden underwent a series of big renovations and finally opened to the public in 1961.


Highlights


Sansui Hall Area

Sansui Hall is one of the major buildings in the Yuyuan Garden, built in 1760, with a height of 9 meters. In the Qing Dynasty, it served as a place for local scholars and officials to get together.

Inside the Sansui Hall area, there is a giant rockery with height of about 14m, which is one of the must-see sights here. North of the Giant Rockery, you will see the tranquil Cuixiu Hall built in 1760 facing the precipice. It provides a great perspective to view the rockery.

Going forward you will encounter the Taihu Stone Peak standing in the middle of the stone-paved corridor, just like the ‘Waist of A Beauty’. Before entering the corridor, you will see two iron lions from the Yuan Dynasty guarding each side.


Wanhualou Scenic Area

Inside the Wanhualou area, there is an old ginkgo tree planted by the proprietor of the garden 400 years ago towering over everything else. When autumn comes, the ginkgo tree turns yellow, attracting many visitors to take photos. Walking forward, you will see the very central sight of this area - Wanhualou with four windows decorated in patterns of plums, orchids, bamboo, and the chrysanthemum (four typical plants used to symbolize the noble characters of a person). Surrounding the building, there are meandering corridors leading to somewhere even more tranquil. Meander along and you will find a double-corridor, with quite an exquisite design. You can walk on both sides and see through from the hollow wall in the middle. Strolling in such a quiet place, you will feel very relaxed and calm.


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