Yuyuan Garden, located in the center of Shanghai's Old Town and next door to Mandarin Gardens Bazaar, is considered one of the the city's finest, most lavish Chinese gardens. A traditional private Chinese garden park, Yuyuan Garden is replete with beautiful pavilions (it has some 30 Ming (CE 1368-1644) and Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty pavilions), lotus ponds, stone bridges and - of course - rock formations. The garden park was built in typical Suzhou style (i.e., the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu Province, not the city of Suzhou in Anhui Province) in CE 1559, during the reign (CE 1521-1566) of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty by a former treasurer of Sichuan Province, Pan Yunduan, in honor of his father. Considered the best garden in Southeast China, Yuyuan Garden has maintained its classic beauty over the centuries.
The garden park includes such highlights as the Hall of Jade Magnificence, the Hall of Heralding Spring, the Ten-Thousand-Flower Pavilion, the Gathering the Moon Pavilion, the Pavilon of Spring, the Inner Garden, the Lotus Pool, and the Grand Rockery, to name only a few. The windows of the halls reveal glimpses of trees, ponds, streams and corridors. The eaves of the halls and pavilions are decorated with dragons, dogs and elephants in an amusing arrangement (e.g., the dragons are depicted with wide-open gapes as if trying to swallow the corners of upturned eaves). The overall arrangement of the individual elements of the garden, from the placement of the trees and ponds to the halls and pavilions, is carefully planned so as to enhance the garden's harmony and ambience, yet nothing about this arrangement seems forced or unnatural.
The Pavilion of Spring in the northeast corner of the park has an interesting history as the headquarters of the anti-imperialist "Little Sword Society", which, in 1853, led an uprising against the Qing Dynasty rule. The society occupied Shanghai for 17 months. A number of artifacts from this historical period, including weapons, coins and other objects used by the Little Sword Society are now housed in a special exhibition hall.
A major restoration of Yuyuan Garden was commenced some years after the establishment of the PRC. The garden park was formally opened to the public in 1961. Yuyuan Garden's Huxin Ting teahouse is very popular with locals and tourists alike, and there are numerous nearby kiosks and stalls that sell delicious Chinese snacks and desserts.