21 September 2010

The gardens of Suzhou

Less than an hour away from Shanghai is the city of Suzhou. We spend the whole of today seeing the older parts of this amazing city.
We were here mainly to see the city's famed gardens which are collectively listed by the UNESCO as a world heritage site, but the fabric of the old city is probably as exciting as the gardens and is made up of dense collection of traditional courtyard houses.

The best place to appreciate the city's layout is from the top of the Beisi Pagoda as it is one of the only tall structures in the old city.
The Pagoda itself was built between 1131 and 1162 during the Song Dynasty (with later renovations) and is 76 m (243 ft) tall.
Within the premises of the Pagoda was our first garden of the day.
After that we started our tour of the more famous gardens in the city ...
Classical Chinese garden design, which seeks to recreate natural landscapes in miniature, is nowhere better illustrated than in the nine gardens in the historic city of Suzhou. They are generally acknowledged to be masterpieces of the genre. Dating from the 11th-19th century, the gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous design.After seeing the garden we headed out to see the ancient water town part of the city The main canal in downtown Suzhou from where we decided to take an hour long canal tour.
Though we had heard that Suzhou was partly a water town we had no idea that it was this awesome .. An elaborate network of smaller canals connected all the houses in this area with the larger canals... it was like being in Venice .. probably we better than being in the greater Italian city as we were not expecting it at all..I end this post with another image of the great stone bridge that arched over the grand canal.

What a pity we have only one day to spent in this amazing city!

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