Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai (must see)
For those unfamiliar with Chinese gardening, this would be a great introduction to its elegance manifested, among other things, in the hidden bat and dragon features and, in this particular case, a huge authentic rockery dating back to the Ming period. Overall, the garden has less emphasis on flora and more on water and the harmonious position of elements.
It may well look small, but you will be amazed at how much actually fits in here. The corridors, archways and zigzag bridges all are carefully placed with a great deal of meaning. Of special interest is the Ming-style rosewood furniture in three halls within the garden, one of which is historically famous as the headquarters of the anti-imperialist “Little Sword” society during the Taiping uprising in the 1850s-60s. The roofs and tops of the walls here are decorated with incredible carvings of dragons, horses, and warriors.
Among other highlights is the famous Jade Rock, a 5-ton boulder said to have been one of the private collection items of the Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong. Interestingly enough, this rock's 72 holes are reportedly positioned so as to make the water or smoke sent into one of the holes, come out from all the other holes simultaneously. Sometimes, the guides show another trick with a coin dropped into a hole at the top and exiting from a certain hole down below (each time different) in accordance, they say, with the person's astrological sign.
Depending on the time of your visit, the garden may be quite crowded – but that's China! Try coming early, as closer to the opening hours as possible; otherwise, later in the day, the queues are usually long! Don't forget a bottle of water or check out a two-storey teahouse on the island in the middle of the garden. The Queen of England herself once dropped in for a cup of tea there, so these days it’s a bit pricey, but you’re welcome to poke about anyway.
Want to visit this sight? Check out these Self-Guided Walking Tours in Shanghai. Alternatively, you can download the mobile app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play Store. The app turns your mobile device to a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.
Yuyuan Garden on Map
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