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 to the 19th centuries, the gardens reflect in their meticulous design the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture. Garden masters from each dynasty adapted various techniques to artfully simulate Nature by skilfully adapting and utilising only the physical space available to them. Limited to the space within a single residence, classical Suzhou gardens are intended to be a microcosm of the natural world, incorporating basic elements such as water, stones, plants, and various types of buildings of literary and poetic significance.
These exquisite gardens are a testament to the superior craftsmanship of the garden masters of the time. These unique designs that have been inspired but are not limited by concepts of Nature have had profound influence on the evolution of both Eastern and Western garden art. These garden ensembles of buildings, rock formations, calligraphy, furniture, and decorative artistic pieces serve as showcases of the paramount artistic achievements of the East Yangtze Delta region; they are in essence the embodiment of the connotations of traditional Chinese culture.
I N F O R M A T I O N
HOW TO GET THERE
Suzhou has no airport, so you’ll want to fly to Shanghai or Pudong and then take a direct train to Suzhou. From Shanghai, the bullet train to Suzhou takes just 30 minutes, while regular trains, buses or taxis will get you there in around 90 minutes. There are also direct high-speed trains from Beijing, which take 5 to 6 hours.
WHEN TO GO
The best time to go is spring (March to May), when flowers are in full bloom and festivals are in full swing. Temperatures are also cool and pleasant in autumn (September to November).
WHERE TO STAY
With its Oriental gardens and rooms featuring traditional Chinese décor, the Pan Pacific Suzhou (www.panpacific.com) perfectly blends local flair with state-of-the-art facilities.
Fancy a luxurious hotel that used to be the private garden of Kuomintang leader Chiang Kai-shek? Book your spot at Garden Hotel Suzhou (www.gardenhotelsuzhou.com).
By Asian Geographic Magazine
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