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Humble Administrator's Garden

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Humble Administrator's Garden (拙政园)

A Brief Introduction of Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden, covering about 52,000 sq. meters (12.85 acres), is the largest and most famous Chinese garden in Suzhou.It is also the best representation of Chinese classical gardens of the Ming Dynasty in the south regions of the Yangtze River, and hailed as the “mother of Chinese gardens”. Has been inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO along with other classical gardens of Suzhou in 1997, Humble Administrator's Garden is celebrated by its delicate layout of pools, rockeries, islets, bamboo grove, pines, pavilions and corridors.And its design is duplicated in many gardens all over China, and there is even a replica in the New York Metropolitan Museum. 

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History of Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden was originally built in 1509 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was initially a private garden of a former government servant named Wang Xianchen. It was said he intended to build a garden after retired and just do some gardening work like planting trees and vegetables there, which was said to be the life of a humble man by him. Hence is the name of thegarden.However, after the owner’s death, his son lost out the garden in a gambling to Xu family. And for over 500 years, the garden has undergone numerous changes and divisions as private garden, or government offices, or dwellings. It is till 1950s that the garden was reunited eventually by the government. In April 1991, the Humble Administrator's Garden was set as special scenic spot in the whole country.In May 2007,it was officially approved by the National Tourism Administration for the 5A tourist spot.

What to see
Design of Humble Administrator's Garden
The garden boasts plenty of pavilions and bridges set among a maze of connected pools and islands.The garden consists of Eastern section(once called Dwelling Upon Return to the Countryside), Central section and Western section(the Supplementary Garden) as well as some residences of the former owners. The resident houses are typical of the style of Suzhou Local Residences, whose feature can be seen in the famous water township Zhouzhuang not far from Suzhou City. The site of the residences has been rebuilt as the Garden Museum now. The house lies in the south of the garden. In total, there exists 48 different architectures with 101 tablets, 40 stelae, 21 precious old trees, and over 700 Suzhou-style bonsai in the garden.Most of the existing architectures in the garden were built in 1850 when it served as the palace garden of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom (1851-1864). By the end of the Qing Dynasty,it developed into three respective gardens,Central Garden,Eastern Garden and Western Garden.

Central Garden
Occupying about 12350 square meters, the Central Garden is the truly elite of the Humble Administrator Garden. Nearly one-third of its area is covered by water. The Central Garden is lined with exuberant trees and elegant parlors. Pavilions and courtyards are clustered throughout. Judging from the recording pictures of Qing Dynasty, the layout style of the garden is basically reserved as its original one in Ming Dynasty.The main scenic spots there are Drifting Fragrance Hall, the Paeonia Suffruticosa Pavilion, the Loquat Pavilion, the Hall of Elegance, the Pavilion in Lotus Breezes and so on. Yuanxiang Hall (Drifting Fragrance Hall), which is Located on the southern bank of the pool and facing two islets in the east and west, is the main architecture of the Central Garden. It is in square rebuilt during the rein of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1795) on the original base of Ming Dynasty. Equipped with french windows in four sides, the Yuanxiang Hall can fully introduce in surrounding sceneries. The furnishings inside are classical elegant. And a horizontal inscribed board of “yuanxiang tang” on the central of the hall inscribed by Wen Zhengming, the designer of the garden. In the south of the hall are waters, rockeries and a bamboo grove, while in the north is a spacious terrace connecting a lotus pool which offers flourishing lotus flowers. In summer, fragrance emanate from the flowers, and the air in the hall is full of the fragrance of flowers.So it will be a good choice to tour in the Yuanxiang Hall during the summer.And because of the perfume of lotuses,the hall there was named Yuanxiang Hall. Obviously, the names of many buildings in the Central Garden are related to lotus, which is a plant with pure and lofty character in Chinese culture. And the founder Wang Xiancheng mainly wanted to express his incorruptible quality, which is similar to the character of lotus.

Eastern Garden
Occupying about 20670 square meters, most of the scenes in Eastern Garden are new constructions. It is dotted with sheer hills,green grasses,dense bamboo and pine forests and winding streams. In the west of the garden is a hill with lush green trees,surrounded by zigzagging waters on all sides.A large lawn and a number of hills and pools are integrated with the buildings.The eastern garden is spacious in layout while the environment there is open and fresh,which is indeed an excellent work of Suzhou gardens.The main scenic spots there are the Hall of Orchid and Snow, the Lotus Pavilion, the Celestial Spring Pavilion and so on.

The Hall of Orchid and Snow is the first classical building across the yard from the garden's entrance to the east section. Though small in size,the hall has three bays. With a stress on fragrance and purity of the orchid and snow,the name connotes the owner's morality and noble character.The former owner Wang Xinyi often invites his scholarly friends to chant poems or verses in the hall.

Western Garden
Covering 8350 square meters, the Western Garden is only half the size of the central part, and is also mainly dominated by water and rocks. Architectures,which were built near the hills and by the pool, are in the mature style of Qing Dynasty. And architectures are numerous,however, do not clutter. The main architecture in the Western Garden is a stately and ornate hall which is divided into two by a massive screen. The south section is 18 Camellias Hall and the north section is the 36 Pairs of Mandarin Duck's Hall. Decorated with exquisite furnishings,the 36 Pairs of Mandarin Ducks Hall was the site for feting guests and enjoying operas in the past. In a nearby pool where the ducks were fed, stands an octagonal Pagoda Reflection Pavilion; There is an optical illusion here - it appears as if a pagoda was lifting when all we actually see is the reflection of the pavilion. Another renowned architecture of Western Garden is a small and delicate fan-shaped pavilion, Yushuitongzuo Pavilion, means "With Whom Shall I Sit" Pavilion, which provides a preferable scene of the garden. 

Transportation
Bus Route: take tourist buses No.1, 2, 5, or buses No. 40, 78, 202, 313, 529, 923, and get off at the stop of Humble Administrator’s Garden (拙政园站, Zhuo Zheng Yuan)

Information
Opening Time: 07:00 to 17:30 (March 1 to November 15)
                          07:30 to 17:00 (November 16 to the end of February of next year)
Admission Fee: CNY 90 (Apr. - Oct.)
                         CNY 70 (Low season)
Address: No.178 Dongbei Street Pingjiang District, Suzhou City

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