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Zhuozheng Yuan, Suzhou

There is a saying goes, "Above there is heaven and below there is Suzhou and Hangzhou." Suzhou is a city with many beautiful gardens. The Humble Administrator's Garden (or Zhuozheng Yuan) is one of four great Chinese gardens. It is the largest garden (nearly 52,000 square meters or 13 acres) in Suzhou and generally considered the finest garden in southern China. In 1997, Zhuozheng Yuan, along with other classical gardens of Suzhou was proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The garden's site was a scholar garden during the Tang Dynasty, and later a monastery garden for the Dahong Temple during the Yuan Dynasty. In 1513, during the Ming Dynasty reign of Emperor Zhengde, it privately owned by Wang Xianchen, an imperial official of the Ming Dynasty. He converted it into a private villa with gardens, which were constructed by digging lakes and piling the resultant earth into artificial islands. It centers around a pool of water, with a clear-cut and balanced layout. Pavilions and islets are linked by bridges and a winding corridor. The garden was designed in collaboration with the renowned Ming artist Wen Zhengming. The Wang family sold the garden several years later, and it has changed hands many times since.

The garden was divided in the later Ming dynasty, and it still neglected until the Qing Dynasty reigns of Emperors Shunzhi and Kangxi, when the garden was extensively rebuilt with major modifications according to its earlier plan. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, the gardens were again divided into the Shu Yuan (Book of Study Garden) and the Fu Yuan (Restored Garden).

The garden consists of Eastern, Central and Western sections as well as some residences of the former owners. Taking water as the mainline, the arrangement in the garden is very natural in space. The water is wide and peaceful on the surface.

Edited By Athena Lee
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