Humble Administrator's Garden
The Humble Administrator's Garden, located in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, was established during the Ming Dynasty. Is renowned for its water sights, natural elegance, scattered courtyards, and lovely flora. Every corner of the Humble Administrator's Garden is finely carved and delicately made, with white walls, black tiles, small bridges over flowing water, green trees, and red flowers. The garden is divided into three sections: east, central, and west, each with its own distinct characteristics.
The Humble Administrator's Garden is one of the four most famous gardens in China, with the longest history. It is also considered the foremost among the four renowned gardens of Suzhou (The Humble Administrator's Garden, the Lingering Garden, the Lion Grove Garden, and the Canglang Pavilion), as well as the largest classical garden in Suzhou (78 acres existing now, originally 200 acres in the Ming Dynasty), and an outstanding representative of classical gardens in southern China, known as the "Mother of Gardens under Heaven." In December 1997, as a typical example of Suzhou's classical gardens, the Humble Administrator's Garden was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. In 2007, the Suzhou Gardens (including the Humble Administrator's Garden, Tiger Hill, and Lingering Garden) were rated as national AAAAA tourist attractions.
Humble Administrator's Garden Facts
- Chinese name: 拙政园
- Pinyin: Zhuō zhèng yuán
- Location: 178 Dongbei Street, Gusu District, Suzhou
- Opening hours: March 1 to November 15: Open from 7:30 a.m., stop ticket checking and admission at 5:00 p.m., and start clearing the garden at 5:30 p.m. November 16 to the end of February: Open from 7:30 a.m., stop ticket checking and admission at 4:30 p.m., and start clearing the garden at 5:00 p.m.
- Ticket price: 70 RMB (off-peak season); 80 RMB (peak season)
- Contact: 0512-67510286
The History of the Humble Administrator's Garden
The garden was established in the fourth year of the Ming Dynasty Zhengde period (1509 AD), built by Wang Xianchen. The name of the Humble Administrator's Garden is derived from the phrase "The garden supplies vegetables for daily meals, this is also administration by the unskilled," in Pan Yue's "Idle Dwelling" from the Jin Dynasty.
This place was originally the residence of the Tang Dynasty poet Lu Guimeng and was the Dahong (Hong) Temple during the Yuan Dynasty. During the Hongzhi period of the Ming Dynasty, Wang Xianchen, who had become an imperial censor, became disillusioned with his career. He retired to Suzhou, purchased the original site of the Humble Administrator's Garden, and invited Wen Zhengming to design the garden. It took 16 years to complete the creation of the Humble Administrator's Garden.
Soon after the completion of the Humble Administrator's Garden, Wang Xianchen died. Since then, the Humble Administrator's Garden has undergone many changes, changing hands several times. After the establishment of the People's Republic of China, the Humble Administrator's Garden was nationalized and underwent several rounds of restoration, with an existing area of 52,000 square meters.
Over hundreds of years, the Humble Administrator's Garden has changed hands and changed names, experienced many trials and tribulations, and finally became a legendary garden.
Humble Administrator's Garden Architecture Layout
The layout of the Humble Administrator's Garden is naturally dense and sparse, The scenery is plain and natural, clear and free. characterized by its water-centric approach. The water surface is wide, accounting for a fifth of the total area of the garden, with pavilions situated around the pool. Corridor windows and traditional Chinese galleries connect them.
The combination of rocks, ancient trees, green bamboo, and flowers in the garden creates a tranquil and far-reaching picture, exemplifying the Ming Dynasty garden architectural style. The garden skillfully incorporates various landscapes, such as lakes, streams, and ponds, blending poetic and picturesque landscapes with the actual environmental conditions, creating a garden filled with poetic imagery.
- The eastern section has a spacious layout with a wide variety of plants, featuring verdant bamboo groves and vibrantly contoured waterways.
- The middle section is the essence of the Humble Administrator's Garden, with the pond covering 1/3 of the area. Buildings with different forms and heights are arranged along the water. The guest halls, pavilions, rocks, and plants are distributed around the pond as if in a natural forest. The waterside gallery is twisting and turning, presenting changing views at each step. The gallery houses Ming and Qing Dynasty inscriptions, especially those by Wen Zhengming, that tantalize the viewer. The garden cleverly incorporates the distant North Temple Pagoda into its scenery. At the "Yu She Tong Zuo Xuan" location, one can feel as if the North Temple Pagoda has broken through the spatial barrier and integrated into the garden landscape.
- The western section features a square-shaped pool, characterized by pavilions, fluctuating galleries, and water reflections, offering a unique charm with its exquisite and intricate decorations.
- The southern section of the Humble Administrator's Garden is made up of residential buildings. These magnificent and solemn quadrangular buildings were opened as the Suzhou Garden Museum in 1992. The museum comprehensively showcases the development of Suzhou Gardens from the Qin and Han Dynasties. It introduces the construction methods, gardening techniques, and garden masters of Suzhou's famous gardens throughout the ages. It displays a large amount of graphics, models, and cultural relics. For travelers interested in architectural art and gardens, it is a must-see.
East Garden: Reed Fragrance Pavilion(秫香馆)(the main building in the east), Enveloping Greenery Pavilion(涵青亭), Heavenly Spring Pavilion(天泉亭), Hibiscus Pavilion(芙蓉榭), Joined Cloud Peak(缀云峰), Connected Jade Peak(联璧峰).
Middle Garden: Distant Fragrance Hall(远香堂) (The main building in the middle, a great place to enjoy lotuses), Fragrant Isle(香洲), Snow Fragrance and Cloud Pavilion(雪香云蔚亭), Tranquil Bamboo Residence(梧竹幽居), Pine Wind Water Pavilion(松风水阁), Little Flying Rainbow(小飞虹)(Classic view of Humble Administrator's Garden), Lotus Wind Four-Sided Pavilion(荷风四面亭), Begonia Spring Dock(海棠春坞), Rain-Listening Pavilion(听雨轩), Magnolia Hall(玉兰堂).
West Garden: Hat Pavilion(笠亭), Suitable for Two Pavilion(宜两亭), Thirty-Six Mandarin Duck Pavilion(卅六鸳鸯馆) (The main building of the western garden, the southern part is called 'Eighteen Mandala Flower Pavilion十八曼陀罗花馆', and the northern part is named 'Thirty-Six Mandarin Duck Pavilion'. This is a type of mandarin duck hall format in ancient architecture."), Reflection Tower(倒影楼), Lingering Listening Pavilion(留听阁), Floating Greenery Pavilion(浮翠阁), Tower Shadow Pavilion(塔影亭), With Whom Shall I Sit Pavilion(与谁同坐轩), Wave-Formed Corridor(波形廊).
Humble Administrator's Garden Travel Guide
Visit route recommendations for the Humble Administrator's Garden: East - Middle - West
- East: Orchid Snow Hall(兰雪堂) - Hibiscus Pavilion(芙蓉榭) - Reed Fragrance Pavilion(秫香馆) - Enveloping Greenery Pavilion(涵青亭)
- Middle: (East and Middle are separated by a long complex corridor) Distant Fragrance Hall(远香堂) - Little Flying Rainbow(小飞虹) - Fragrant Isle(香洲) - Lotus Wind Four-Sided Pavilion(荷风四面亭) - Rain-Listening Pavilion(听雨轩) - Snow Fragrance and Cloud Pavilion(雪香云蔚亭)
- West: (Enter from the Have a Unique Appeal Garden Gate) Thirty-Six Mandarin Duck Pavilion(卅六鸳鸯馆) - Suitable for Two Pavilion(宜两亭) - With Whom Shall I Sit Pavilion(与谁同坐轩)
Transportation to the Humble Administrator's Garden
You can reach the garden by taking Haoxing Line 1 to "Zhuo Zheng Yuan Transfer Center", or Bus No. 5, 301, 305, 9009, 9016, 9025, or Night Line 1 to "Suzhou Museum (Humble Administrator's Garden, Lion Grove Garden)" and then walking east.
Alternatively, you can take the Suzhou Rail Transit Line 4 to the North Temple Tower Station and walk approximately one kilometer east.
Best Travel Time and Other Recommendations
- The Humble Administrator's Garden is suitable for tourism all year round, but it is best to avoid the peak holiday period. Flower exhibitions (azalea and lotus exhibitions) are held from April to October.
- Handheld electronic tour guides are available for rent at the entrance.
- When photographing in the garden, pay attention to the interplay of light and shadow and use flash for backlighting. As there are many green plants in Suzhou gardens, compared to other color flowers, the contrast is greater, therefore it is recommended to choose a lens with good imaging and use high-resolution shooting.1. The Humble Administrator's Garden is suitable for tourism all year round, but it is best to avoid the peak holiday period. Flower exhibitions (azalea and lotus exhibitions) are held from April to October.
- Dining: Pine Crane Tower and De Yue Tower located on the other side are famous for authentic Su-style cuisine.
- Shopping: There are numerous craft shops on Northeast Street and Garden Road near the entrance to the Humble Administrator's Garden. Local special products, Suzhou fans, Suzhou embroidery, and more can be found here.
- Nearby Attractions: After visiting the Humble Administrator's Garden, walking 100 meters west will take you to the Loyal Duke Mansion of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, Suzhou Museum, and Suzhou Garden Museum. A short walk down Garden Road will bring you to the Lion Grove Garden and the Suzhou Folk Museum.
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