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2 Days Suzhou Classical Garden Arts Tour from Shanghai

2 Days Suzhou Classical Garden Arts Tour from Shanghai
Tour Code: SHA-GDN01
Price from:(per people)
CNY 1130 p/p
Duration:
2 day
Departure Date:
You Deside !
Departure/Pick-up:
Shanghai
Traffic:
Car
Main Destination:
Suzhou
021-53069239
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Itinerary Features
Why we suggest this tour itinerary?

There are few tour itineraries like this designed for foreign tourists to thoroughly explore the southern China classical garden arts in Suzhou. Although Suzhou is quite near Shanghai and the classical garden arts of China is one of the two major garden arts in the world.  

 

Suzhou,The City of Classical Gardens” and around 90km to the west of Shanghai center, is famous for its classical gardens. It is very easy for tourists from Shanghai to explore this spectacular arts in this area.

 

Suzhous classical gardens occupy an unique and irreplaceable position in the history of world landscape gardening. Do not like the western garden arts which is in pursuit of the artificial beauty, Chinese gardens focus on the natural beauty. As the traditional retreat of scholars and gentleman, the classical Chinese garden provided a place not only to meditate, but also to socialize, play music, indulge in the calligraphic arts, paint, write, eat, drink, and play games. The beauty of classical Chinese garden and architecture lies in its knowledge about the world, its combination of aesthetic theory and architecture practice, and its containment and demonstration of the philosophy of ancient China.

 

Now in Suzhou, there are 4 most famous classical gardens: The Surging Waves Pavilion - representing the garden style in Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD), Lion Forest Garden - representing the garden the style in Yuan Dynasty (1206-1368 AD), Humble Administrators Garden - representing the garden style in Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD), Lingering Garden - representing the garden style of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD). All of them are in the UNESCO World Heritage List and will be visited in this itinerary. Other World Heritage List Gardens will be visited in this itinerary are Ouyuan Garden (translated as The Couples Retreat Garden or Twin Courtyards Garden), Wangshi Garden (Master-of-Nets Garden), Yipu Garden (Translated as Cultivation Garden or Art Nursery).  

 

Main Tourist Attractions in the Itinerary:

Suzhou: 

Tiger Hill, Liuyuan Garden (Lingering Garden, UNESCO World Heritage), Canglangting Garden(Surging Waves Pavilion, UNESCO World Heritage), Yipu Garden (Translated as Cultivation Garden or Art Nursery, UNESCO World Heritage), Pan Gate (the only well preserved water and land city wall gate in China), Suzhou Museum, Zhuozhen Garden (Humble Administrators Garden, UNESCO World Heritage) and Chinese Classical Garden Museum, Pingjiang Historical and Cultural Street Block, Shizilin Garden (Lion Forest Garden, UNESCO World Heritage), Ouyuan Garden (translated as The Couples Retreat Garden or Twin Courtyards Garden, UNESCO World Heritage), Wangshi Garden (Master-of-Nets Garden, UNESCO World Heritage).

   

Experience in the Itinerary:

1. In this itinerary, tourists can explore, enjoy and study the stunning beauty of the Chinese classical gardens, to know more about Chinese arts such as garden arts, paintings, brush calligraphy, literature, philosophy and so on.

2. Visit the famous Suzhou Museum to know more about the Wu Culture (the local culture) in this area. Wu Culture occupies a very important position in traditional Chinese culture. 

 

More info about Suzhou city:

The ancient city of Suzhou occupies an area of 14.2 square kilometers, and the city was built as the capital city of the Wu Kingdom in 514 BC by Wu Zixu, the primary mister of the kingdom by the order of King Helu. Hence the name of "Great City of Helu", the ancient name for Suzhou. With a history of more than 2,500 years, the city (old city with around 14 square meters) still stands at its original site when it was established around 2500 years ago! The two moats inside and outside the city wall and the city gates of Chang, Qi, Lou, Xiang, Pan and Xu remain basically unchanged. Suzhou is the only one ancient city in the world which never moved its location for over 2500 years. According to the inscribed stone "Pingjiang Map" in the second year of the Shaoding reign of the Southern Song Dynasty (1229), there were seven north-south rivers and 14 east-west rivers inside the city of Suzhou, totaling 82 kilometers, and 314 bridges. InSuzhoutoday, there are still 35 kilometers of rivers and more than 160 bridges.

 

The layout of the ancient city of Suzhouwas in the form of double chessboards, that is, rivers and streets run parallel to each other. The river and streets were intermingled, and the waterfront houses varied in height, together representing a rich flavor of water town. There are numerous cultural heritages such as ancient pagodas and temples, government offices, former residences of celebrities, gardens and mansions, ancestral temples, halls and public places, archways and ancient wells in the city.  

 

The ancient city of Suzhou has rich cultural heritages. There are now 47 historical and cultural areas and 126 historic sites under protection, including 11 under national protection, 30 at provincial level and 85 at municipal level. In addition, there are also many under controlled protection: 200 buildings, 22 sections of ancient revetments, 22 ancient archways, 70 ancient bridges, 37 gate towers with brick carvings, and 639 ancient wells. Of these cultural heritages, eight classical gardens have already been inscribed in the World Heritage List. The historical and cultural street blocks of Pingjiang, the Humble Administrators Garden and Shantang, as typical areas of the ancient city of Suzhou, will apply for being inscribed in the World Heritage List. Now in Suzhou , totally there are still 69 ancient classical gardens with hundreds of years history.

 

Situated at the temperate zone and with subtropical oceanic monsoon climate, Suzhou enjoys four distinct seasons, a mild temperature and abundant rainfall. The city spreads on a low terrain, with the plain covering 55% of the total area. With a network of rivers and canals as well as a fertile land, the city is rich in a variety of agricultural products. Major crops vary from rice to wheat, rape, cotton, mulberry, and fruit. Its specialties include Biluochun(Green Spiral Spring) Tea, Dao Fish from Yangtze River, Silver Fish from TaihuLakeand Hairy Crabs fromYangchenhuLake. As a well-known "Land of Fish and Rice" as well as a "Silk Capital",Suzhouenjoys a fame of "Paradise on Earth".

 

 

The Classical Garden Arts of Suzhou

The Classical Garden of Suzhou is a group of gardens in Suzhou region which have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is the form of harmony created by the man’s artistic manipulation of nature and space.

 

Spanning a period of almost one thousand years, from the Northern Song to the late Qing dynasties (11th-19th century), these gardens, most of them built by scholars, standardized many of the key features of classical Chinese garden design with constructed landscapes mimicking natural scenery of rocks, hills and rivers with strategically located pavilions, chambers and corridors.

 

The elegant aesthetics and subtlety of these scholars gardens and their delicate style and features are often imitated by various gardens in other parts of China, including the various Imperial Gardens, such as those in the Chengde Mountain Resort. According to UNESCO, the gardens of Suzhou "represent the development of Chinese landscape garden design over more than two thousand years," and they are the "most refined form" of garden art.

 

These landscape gardens flourished in the mid-Ming to early-Qing dynasties, resulting in as much as 200 private gardens. Today, there are 69 preserved gardens in Suzhou, and all of them are designated as protected "National Heritage Sites." In 1997 and 2000, eight of the finest gardens in Suzhou along with one in the nearby ancient town of Tongli were selected by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site to represent the art of Suzhou-style classical gardens. Their names are: the Humble Administrator’s Garden, Lingering Garden, the Master-of-Nets Garden, the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty, the Canglang Pavilion, the Lion Forest Garden (or translated as Lion Grove Garden), the Garden of Cultivation, the Couple’s Garden Retreat, and the Retreat & Reflection Garden (except the last one which is in Tongli, a small town near Suzhou, other 8 gardens are in the ancient Suzhou city proper.) Dating from the 11th-19th century, the above 9 gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous design - Valued by UNESCO World Heritage Website.

 

Design of the Classical Garden

A Chinese garden was not meant to be seen all at once; the plan of a classical Chinese garden presented the visitor with a series of perfectly composed and framed glimpses of scenery; a view of a pond, or of a rock, or a grove of bamboo, a blossoming tree, or a view of a distant mountain peak or a pagoda. The 16th-century Chinese writer and philosopher Ji Cheng (1582 - ?), also one of the most famous garden designers in ancient China who wrote the first garden arts monograph in the world “Yuan Ye” (means "The Craft of Gardens"), instructed garden builders to "hide the vulgar and the common as far as the eye can see, and include the excellent and the splendid."

 

Chinese classical gardens varied greatly in size. The largest garden in Suzhou, the Humble Administrators Garden, was a little over ten hectares in area, with three-fifths of the garden occupied by the pond. But they did not have to be large. Ji Cheng built a garden for Wu Youyu, the Treasurer of Jinling (the South Capital at that time, current Nanjign city), that was just under one hectare in size, and the tour of the garden was only four hundred steps long from the entrance to the last viewing point, but Wu Youyu said it contained all the marvels of the province in a single place.

 

The classical garden was surrounded by a wall, usually painted white, which served as a pure backdrop for the flowers and trees. A pond of water was usually located in the center. Many structures, large and small, were arranged around the pond. In the garden described by Ji Cheng above, the structures occupied two-thirds of the hectare, while the garden itself occupied the other third. In a scholar garden the central building was usually a library or study, connected by galleries with other pavilions which served as observation points of the garden features. These structures also helped divide the garden into individual scenes or landscapes. The other essential elements of a scholar garden were plants, trees, and rocks, all carefully composed into small perfect landscapes. Scholar gardens also often used what was called "borrowed" scenery where unexpected views of scenery outside the garden, such as mountain peaks, seemed to be an extension of the garden itself.

 

Architecture

Chinese gardens are filled with architecture; halls, pavilions, temples, galleries, bridges, kiosks, and towers, occupying a large part of the space.

 

Some gardens have a picturesque stone pavilion in the form of a boat, located in the pond. These generally had three parts; a kiosk with winged gables at the front, a more intimate hall in the center, and a two story structure with a panoramic view of the pond at the rear.

 

Galleries are narrow covered corridors which connect the buildings, protect the visitors from the rain and sun, and also help divide the garden into different sections. These galleries are rarely straight; they zigzag or are serpentine, following the wall of the garden, the edge of the pond, or climbing the hill of the rock garden. They have small windows, sometimes round or in odd geometric shapes, to give glimpses of the garden or scenery to those passing through.

 

Windows and doors are an important architectural feature of the Chinese garden. Sometimes they are round (moon windows or a moon gate) or oval, hexagonal or octagonal, or in the shape of a vase or a piece of fruit. Sometimes they have highly ornamental ceramic frames. The window may carefully frame a branch of a pine tree, or a plum tree in blossom, or another intimate garden scene.

 

Bridges are another common feature of the Chinese garden. Like the galleries, they are rarely straight, but zigzag or arch over the ponds, suggesting the bridges of rural China, and providing view points of the garden. Bridges are often built from rough timber or stone-slab raised pathways. Some gardens have brightly painted or lacquered bridges, which give a lighthearted feeling to the garden.

 

Gardens also often include small, austere houses for solitude and meditation, sometimes in the form of rustic fishing huts, and isolated buildings which serve as libraries or studios.

 

Artificial mountains and rock gardens

The artificial mountain or rock is an integral element of Chinese classical gardens. The mountain peak was a symbol of virtue, stability and endurance in Confucian philosophy and in the I Ching (The Book of Change).

 

The first rock garden appeared in Chinese garden history in Tu Yuan (literally "Rabbit Garden"), built during the Western Han dynasty (206 BC – 9 AD). During the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), the rock was elevated to the status of an art object, judged by its form, substance, color, and texture, as well as by its softness, transparency, and other factors. The poet Bai Juyi (772–846) wrote a catalog of the famous rocks of Lake Tai, called Taihu Shiji. These rocks, of limestone sculpted by erosion, became the most highly prized for gardens.

 

During the Song dynasty, the artificial mountains were made mostly of earth. But Emperor Huizong (1100–1125) nearly ruined the economy of the Song Empire by destroying the bridges of the Grand Canal so he could carry huge rocks by barge to his imperial garden. During the Ming dynasty (1368-1644 AD), the use of piles of rocks to create artificial mountains and grottos reached its peak. During the Qing dynasty (1644-1911 AD), the Ming rock gardens were considered too artificial and the new mountains were composed of both rocks and earth.

 

The artificial mountain in Chinese gardens today usually has a small view pavilion at the summit. In smaller classical gardens, a single scholar rock represents a mountain, or a row of rocks represents a mountain range.

 

Water
A pond or lake is the central element of a Chinese garden. The main buildings are usually placed beside it, and pavilions surround the lake to see it from different points of view. The garden usually has a pond for lotus flowers, with a special pavilion for viewing them. There are usually goldfish in the pond, with pavilions over the water for viewing them.



The lake or pond has an important symbolic role in the garden. In the I Ching (The Book of Change), water represents lightness and communication, and carried the food of life on its journey through the valleys and plains. It is also the complement to the mountain, the other central element of the garden, and represents dreams and the infinity of spaces. The shape of the garden pond often hides the edges of the pond from viewers on the other side, giving the illusion that the pond goes on to infinity. The softness of the water contrasts with the solidity of the rocks. The water reflects the sky, and therefore is constantly changing, but even a gentle wind can soften or erase the reflections.

 

Small gardens have a single lake, with rock, plants and structures around its edge. Middle-sized gardens will have a single lake with one or more streams coming into the lake, with bridges crossing the streams, or a single long lake divided into two bodies of water by a narrow channel crossed by a bridge. In a very large garden like the Humble Administrators Garden, the principal feature of the garden is the large lake with its symbolic islands, symbolizing the isles of the immortals. Streams come into the lake, forming additional scenes. Numerous structures give different views of the water, including a stone boat, a covered bridge, and several pavilions by the side of or over the water.

 

Some gardens created the impression of lakes by places smooth areas of white sand, bordered by rocks, in courtyards. In the moonlight these looked like real lakes. This style of dry garden was later imported into Japan and transformed into the Zen garden.

 

The streams in the Chinese garden always follow a winding course, and are hidden from time to time by rocks or vegetation. A French Jesuit missionary, Father Attiret, who was a painter in the service of the Qianlong Emperor from 1738 to 1768, described one garden he saw:

 

"The canals are not like those in our country bordered with finely cut stone, but very rustic and lined with pieces or rock, some coming forward, some retreating. which are placed so artistically that you would think it was a work of nature."

 

Flowers and Trees

Flowers and trees, along with water, rocks and architecture, are the fourth essential element of the Chinese garden. They represent nature in its most vivid form, and contrast with the straight lines of the architecture and the permanence, sharp edges and immobility of the rocks. They change continually with the seasons, and provide both sounds (the sound of rain on banana leaves or the wind in the bamboo) and aromas to please the visitor.

 

Each flower and tree in the garden had its own symbolic meaning. The pine, bamboo and Chinese plum (Prunus mume) were considered the "Three Friends of Winter" by the scholars who created classical gardens, prized for remaining green or blooming in winter. They were often painted together by artists. For scholars, the pine was the emblem of longevity and tenacity, as well as constance in friendship. The bamboo, a hollow straw, represented a wise man, modest and seeking knowledge, and was also noted for being flexible in a storm without breaking. Plum trees were revered as the symbol of rebirth after the winter and the arrival of spring.

 

The peach tree in the Chinese garden symbolized longevity and immortality. Peaches were associated with the classic story The Orchard of Xi Wangmu (The Mother of Kings), the Queen Mother of the West. This story said that in Xi Wangmus legendary orchard, peach trees flowered only after three thousand years, did not produce fruit for another three thousand years, and did not ripen for another three thousand years. Those who ate these peaches became immortal. This legendary orchard was pictured in many Chinese paintings, and inspired many garden scenes. Pear trees were the symbol of justice and wisdom. The word pear was also a homophone for quit or separate, and it was considered bad luck to cut a pear, for it would lead to the breakup of a friendship or romance. The pear tree could also symbolize a long friendship or romance, since the tree lived a long time.

 

The apricot tree symbolized the way of the mandarin, or the government official. During the Tang dynasty, those who passed the imperial examination were re