The Lingering Garden is a significant classical private garden in China, covering an area of 23,300 square meters, and was first constructed during the Ming Dynasty. As Lingering Garden showcases the Qing Dynasty style and is renowned for its meticulous architectural artistry. The halls are spacious and splendid, the courtyards are richly varied, and among the Taihu stones, Cloud-Crowned Peak is the most prominent, perfectly capturing "the charm of the mountain forest without leaving the city". When you roam around the lingering garden, there are two magical voices Pingtan(评弹) and Guqin music-- come along with you.
On March 4, 1961, Lingering Garden was listed as one of the first batches of national key cultural relics protection units. In December 1997, as a typical example of Suzhou's classical gardens, it was approved by UNESCO and inscribed on the World Heritage List alongside the Humble Administrator's Garden, the Master of the Nets Garden, and the Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty. In 2007, the Suzhou Gardens (including the Humble Administrator's Garden, Tiger Hill, and Lingering Garden) were rated as national AAAAA tourist attractions.
Lingering Garden Facts
- Chinese name: 留园
- Pinyin: liú yuan
- Location: No. 338 Liuyuan Road, Gusu District, Suzhou City
- Opening hours: March 1st to October 31st from 07:30 to 17:30 (ticket sales stop at 17:00, last entry at 17:00). November 1st to the following February 28th from 07:30 to 17:00 (ticket sales stop at 16:30, last entry at 16:30).
- Ticket price: 55 RMB per person (peak season);45 RMB per person (off-peak season).
- Contact: 0512 - 65579466
The Lingering Garden was originally constructed under the name of East Garden as a private garden in 1593, the 21st year of the reign of Emperor Wanli (1572-1620) of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Unfortunately, it fell into a state of disrepair and wasn’t rebuilt as the "Cold Green Village" until the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The renovated garden thereafter came to be known after its new owner, Liu Shu, and therefore it was referred to as Liu Yuan, or "Liu's Garden."
Between 1873 and 1876, the Lingering Garden was renovated and expanded by a new private owner not belonging to the Liu family, though the name Liu Yuan was preserved. This is because in Chinese, the pronunciation of the name Liu and that of "lingering" are almost identical. That is, the garden was in fact referred to as the "Lingering Garden," though the official name was written as "Liu Yuan".
In recent times, the Lingering Garden again fell into disrepair twice and was finally restored to its former beauty after the building of the People's Republic of China. Under the rule of the People's Republic of China, the local government of Suzhou took over the garden and had it refurbished. The "Lingering Garden," as it again became, was reopened to the public in 1954.
Today, the Lingering Garden is ranked alongside the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Mountain Resort in Chengde, and the Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou, as one of the four greatest classical gardens in China.
The Lingering Garden is a large-scale classical private garden in China, covering an area of 23300 square meters, and is renowned for its architectural art. Construction occupies about a quarter of the total area of the garden, the architectural style represents the Qing Dynasty style.
The Lingering Garden uses a comfortable and enjoyable mountain and water layout and a well-arranged architectural space contrast. The unique charm of the rockery landscape has become an outstanding example of southern Chinese garden art.
The Lingering Garden uses an irregular layout, which allows the buildings to blend seamlessly with the mountains, water, and stones, creating a natural environment. The garden is divided into central, eastern, northern, and western scenic areas by the cloud walls and groups of buildings. The central region is characterized mainly by the mountain and water landscapes and the core buildings; the eastern region is a combination of dense building groups and multiple gardens; the western region has a large soil and stone false mountain and natural forests; and the northern region is arranged with bamboo fields, fruit trees, and a bonsai garden.
The pavilions, terraces, buildings, and halls in Lingering Garden are unevenly distributed. The winding corridors stretch for more than 700 meters, displaying the charm of changing views at every step.
Main Scenery of Lingering Garden
Central: This is the site of the original Hanbi Mountain Villa, with a wide pond in the middle, mountains on the west and north, and buildings on the east and south. South of the pond, Hanbi Mountain House and Mingselou are the main buildings of Lingering Garden. The Green Shade Pavilion on the east side of the pavilions is small and elegant, hanging over the water between the fences, presenting a landscape painting. On the west side of Hanbi Mountain House is the Mountain-climbing Corridor, which fluctuates with the mountain, connecting to the Wenmuxiuxiang Pavilion on the top of the mountain. The mountain is covered with sweet osmanthus. On autumn days, the fragrance permeates, refreshing one's spirit. From here, one can enjoy a panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. In the middle of the pond, the small Penglai Island emerges from the blue waves. East of the pond, Haopu Pavilion, Quxi Tower, West Tower, and Qingfeng Pool Pavilion are hidden among the mountains, waters, and woods.
Eastern: There are numerous entrance doors, and the courtyards are deep. The courtyards are interlinked with windows, doorways, and long corridors, contrasting with each other, forming the most varied architectural group in Suzhou's gardens. The main hall, "Wufeng Xiangguan" (also known as the "Nanmu Hall"), is beautifully decorated and elegantly furnished. To its west are courtyards such as the Crane Residence, Stone Forest Courtyard, Yifeng Pavilion, and the "Return My Study Place", where bamboo and rocks lean against the wall, and banana trees reflect in the windows, composing a picturesque scene straight from a poem or painting.
Northern: Although the original structures in this part have been lost to time, it has been beautifully replanted with bamboo, plum, peach, and apricot trees. Areas such as "Yet Another Village" host grapevines and wisteria trellises. The remaining area has been converted into a bonsai garden, verdant with various flowers and trees, retaining the charm and easy-going atmosphere of a countryside garden.
Western: This area is dominated by artificial mountains, crafted seamlessly from earth and stone. The mountains are densely forested with maple trees, offering cool, shady retreats in the summer and turning into a stunning red tapestry come autumn. The Zhi Le Pavilion and Shu Xiao Pavilion are subtly tucked away amongst the trees. As you ascend the heights, you can take in the beautiful vistas of the western suburbs.
Lingering Garden Tour Routes
The clear zoning and the coherent layout of the buildings in Lingering Garden offer a smooth and distinct touring route. Visitors are intentionally guided to experience the essence of each area along a meticulously designed route.
- The First Route (begins with the eastern part, then goes through the northern and western parts, and finally tours the central part): Qu Xi Tower(曲谿楼) → West Tower(西楼) → Qing Feng Pond Pavilion(清风池馆) → Zi Zai Place(自在处) → Wu Feng Fairy Pavilion(五峰仙馆) → Yi Feng Pavilion(揖峰轩) → Lin Quan Qishuo's Hall(林泉耆硕之馆) → Jia Qing Xi Yu Kuai Xue Pavilion(佳晴喜雨快雪之亭) → Yet Another Village(又一村) → Earthen Mountain (Zhi Le Pavilion)(土山（至乐亭）) → Shu Xiao Pavilion(舒啸亭) → Lively Place(活泼泼地) → Unique Sky(别有天) → Wen Mu Xixiang Pavilion(闻木樨香轩) → Ke Pavilion(可亭) → Little Penglai(小蓬莱) → Hao Pu Pavilion(濠濮亭) → Qu Xi Tower(曲谿楼) → Old Trees Intersecting Branches(古木交柯) → Green Shade(绿荫) → Han Bi Mountain House(涵碧山房) → Exit.
- The Second Route (this tour route first explores the central part, then the eastern, northern, and western parts): Old Trees Intersecting Branches(古木交柯) → Green Shade(绿荫) → Han Bi Mountain House(涵碧山房) → Wen Mu Xixiang Pavilion(闻木樨香轩) → Ke Pavilion(可亭) → Little Penglai(小蓬莱) → Hao Pu Pavilion(濠濮亭) → Qu Xi Tower(曲谿楼) → West Tower(西楼) → Qing Feng Pond Pavilion(清风池馆) → Wu Feng Fairy Pavilion(五峰仙馆) → Yi Feng Pavilion(揖峰轩) → Lin Quan Qishuo's Hall(林泉耆硕之馆) → Dai Yun Nunnery(待云庵) → Guan Yun Pavilion(冠云亭) → Guan Yun Tower(冠云楼) → Yet Another Village(又一村) → Earthen Mountain (Zhi Le Pavilion)(土山（至乐亭）) → Shu Xiao Pavilion(舒啸亭) → Lively Place(活泼泼地) → Unique Sky(别有天) → Exit.
How to Get There?
- Lingering Garden Stop(留园站): Routes 34, 317, 933, Tourist Route 1, Peak Route 24 (Gusu Tourist Line 1), Haoxing Line 1, Night Line 2, Night Line 4 (get off upon arrival).
- Jinchang Experimental Primary School Stop(金阊实验小学站): Routes 7, 34, 304, 317, 318, 406, 415, 522, 921, 949, 970, 980, 9037, Night Line 5 (get off and walk south along Guangji South Road for 30 meters to Liuyuan Road, then walk about 300 meters to the west)
By Metro: Take Suzhou Rail Transit Line 2 to Shi Road Station, exit from Exit 1, walk north along Guangji South Road for 50 meters to Lingering Garden Road(留园路), then walk about 300 meters west.
Best Travel Time and Other Recommendations
Lingering Garden is suitable for visiting all year round. In summer, the lively scene of fish playing among the lotus leaves can provide a sense of leisure and tranquility.
Lingering Garden is adjacent to Shantang Street, which is also a famous historical and cultural area in Suzhou. You may consider visiting both together. Although the visitor density in Lingering Garden is relatively lower than in Humble Administrator's Garden, the flow of people during peak hours is still high. If possible, it is recommended to choose weekdays when there are fewer people for a better experience.
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