Master of Nets Garden

Written by ivana Updated Oct. 31, 2023

The Master of Nets Garden, located in the southeastern part of Suzhou City in Jiangsu Province, is approximately 120 kilometers from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport.

As a representative work of medium-sized classical landscape gardens in Suzhou, this garden is not only a national AAAA tourist scenic spot in China but also a UNESCO World Heritage site and a key national cultural relics protection unit.

The Master of Nets Garden is the most exquisite and smallest of all of Suzhou's gardens, covering an area of approximately 0.54 hectares. In addition to understanding the mysteries of the garden layout here, watching quyi performances at night when the night garden is open each year is another major feature of this place. 

Master of Nets Garden Facts

Master of Nets Garden Map

Master of Nets Garden Map
Master of Nets Garden Map

Recommended Tour Route

The most special part of the Master of Nets Garden is the night garden, where Kunqu opera, Pingtan, Jiangnan Silk Bamboo, guzheng, flute, and other quyi programs are performed in different halls in the garden.

History of the Master of Nets Garden

Master of Nets refers to fishermen, and is synonymous with "Fisherman's Retreat," implying the idea of living in seclusion. Therefore, the name of the Master of Nets Garden can be interpreted as "the garden of a fishing father or old fisherman." This name not only borrows the meaning of the old "Fisherman's Retreat," but is also homophonous with the name of the alley "Wang Si (some say Wang Si, now known as Kuojia Tou Lane)." 

The Master of Nets Garden, established during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), was originally a small private garden named "Fisherman's Retreat," located at the former site of the Wanjuan Hall of Shi Zhengzhi, a minister of the Southern Song Dynasty. After several renovations, it was bought and rebuilt by Song Zongyuan during the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty (1736 to 1796) and renamed the Master of Nets Garden.

In the late Qianlong period, the garden had already become desolate. It was later purchased by Qu Yuancun, a wealthy merchant from Taicang, who greatly renovated it, stacking stones, planting trees, arranging them appropriately, building new pavilions, and changing the old into new. It was commonly known as Qu Garden or Qu Garden. The layout of most of the scenic buildings in today's Master of Nets Garden dates back to the Qu Garden period. It is located in the wide head alley of Shiquan Street in the southeast of Suzhou.

Master of Nets Garden Architecture Design

The Master of Nets Garden is a typical private garden that integrates a residence with a garden. It occupies about half a hectare, less than a sixth of the Humble Administrator's Garden, but through clever layout, the small bridges, running water, pavilions, towers, and pavilions do not seem cramped, and it is a model of "seeing the big through the small."

The whole garden is laid out with water everywhere, and all kinds of buildings are well-coordinated, compactly arranged, and renowned for their exquisite design. The residential part consists of four sections, including the sedan hall, the large living room, the Xie Xiu Tower, and the Wufeng Book House, which are arranged in sequence along the central axis. The main hall "Wanjuan Hall" is tall and spacious, with elegant decoration.

The structure of the Master of Nets Garden is mainly based on the main garden of the central axis. The inner garden on the west side provides delicate compactness, and the east side is the beautiful architecture of the houses. The arrangement of the central axis focuses on the pool water, with the south being the place for feasts and the north being the place for reading books. Among these, the inner garden in the west part is most loved by visitors. There is a small house named Dianchunyi in the inner garden, which was an important reference when the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York introduced Chinese gardens in 1979 and set up an indoor architectural scene "Mingxuan" in the museum.

How to Get Garden of Master of the Nets

You can take the subway, bus, or taxi to the Master of Nets Garden. There are a number of buses, including tour buses, that service the garden compound.

Metro: Line 5, Nanyuan North Road Station.


Nearby Attractions

To the north of the Master of Nets Garden is the famous dining and craft specialty street of Suzhou known as Shiquan Street. Not just on Shiquan Street, but also on Phoenix Street which intersects it, there are numerous restaurants.

Local Suzhou restaurants like Old Suzhou Tea House and Xiehe Restaurant serve authentic Suzhou dishes, where you can taste local specialties like squirrel-shaped mandarin fish, eel paste in soy sauce, and shrimp with Biluochun tea(green tea). Craft items such as Suzhou embroidery, calligraphy and painting, silk, etc. are available for purchase.

In the same area, there's also another attraction, the Canglang Pavilion, which you can visit together.

More Tour suggestions

Time Allocation: It is suggested to reserve half a day for visiting the Master of Nets Garden, so you can fully enjoy the beautiful scenery of the garden and appreciate its unique cultural art.

Best Visiting Time: In fact, it is suitable to visit the Master of Nets Garden in any season, but spring and autumn are the best viewing periods.

Plan Your Suzhou Trip with Us

Usually, it's recommended to visit Suzhou in 1 or 2 days. How can you maximize your travel experience to see Suzhou's highlights? If you tour Suzhou with us, our experienced English-speaking guides and private drivers will escort you to discover the history and stories behind this charming city. They are local experts in Suzhou.

 Please feel free to share your tour ideas with us. We look forward to helping you soon!

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