Having a rich history of 2,500 years, Suzhou is a major ancient city in the southeast of Jiangsu province. Particularly renowned for its city’s winding canals, stone bridges, and meticulously designed gardens, Suzhou is one of the most popular tourist cities in China. As you walk along the streets of Suzhou, you will notice many landscapes still retains its old rustic charm. Commonly known as the “Paradise on Earth”, Suzhou is a beautiful waterside city with its World Heritage Gardens enjoying a great reputation local and aboard.
Classical Gardens of Suzhou – As the Chinese saying goes – ‘gardens to the south of Yangtze River are the best in the world, and Suzhou gardens are the best among them’. Indeed, the Classical Gardens of Suzhou are a tourist trademark of Suzhou. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou is only a 15 minute drive from Fraser Suites Suzhou and is definitely worth a visit. Out of the original 2 there are more than 60 gardens that have been left intact in the city maintaining their charming natural beauty and meticulous design. Given UNESCO World Heritage Site status, the Four Classical Gardens of Suzhou – The Humble Administrator’s Garden, The Lingering Garden, The Garden of the Master of the Nets and The Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty exemplify the charming natural beauty and elegance of the Suzhou gardens. Most of the gardens were built for private use by aristocrats and the wealthy families, and date back to the sixth Century BC. The Suzhou garden originated from the desire to retire from the strife and politics of officialdom and to shun from worldly affairs. It seeks the return to nature and the cultivation of temperament. In Taoist philosophy, a man with a good temperament and refined culture is a step closer to enlightenment. And this attempted cultivation can be seen throughout the theme of the garden. These gardens have many of the key features exemplary of classical Chinese garden design such as structure, style, cultural attainment, aesthetics, and arrangement of the furniture.
The gardens are mainly comprised of two portions – a residential section and a garden. In order to replicate a natural environment but on a much smaller scale; pavilions, ponds, pagodas, bridges, rockeries, stones, and flowers were added to the gardens. It is believed that each and every structure, rock, and flower was strategically placed to showcase Chinese philosophy, ideology and fengshui – demonstrating the unique architectural culture of the Orient. While walking around the garden, visitors may notice that it is almost as if they’ve stepped into another world, a different era. There is this elegant and peaceful cultural aura which has almost disappeared from modern life. The gardens’ unique architecture combined with its tranquil surrounding scenery has led to a zen-like haven away from the hustle and bustle of the world. Keep an eye out for the carvings and inscriptions on the doors and windows that sometimes shows the ideals or followings of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian thoughts or philosophy. In the living rooms, the rosewood furniture is simple but elegant. Beautiful works of Chinese calligraphy and paintings are displayed on the walls and the residential rooms are adorned with Suzhou-styled bonsais and parallel couplets.
The Humble Administrator’s Garden, the largest, occupies four hectares. It was built in 1522 during the Ming Dynasty and has a natural, flowing artistic theme. Water accounts for 60% of its total area and all the major structures face the water. With the pool as the center, bridges and corridors harmoniously link up isles, rockeries, pavilions and towers. The Lingering Garden, on the other hand, demonstrates a compact layout and a delicate decorative art. Built in the Ming Dynasty, it was renovated and expanded in the early 19th century during the Qing Dynasty to cover an area of 3.3 hectares as we see it today. Garden of the Master of the Nets – It is the smallest of all the gardens but its use of space creates the illusion of an area that is much greater than its actual size. First constructed in 1140 this 5,400 meters garden is divided into two sections, the east and west. The eastern part consists of residential quarters and the western part has the gardens. In the garden, various plants and rocks are used to create views which represent several seasons. The two impressive elements of the garden are the cypress tree dating from the Ming Dynasty, and several centuries old pine trees.
Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty – Celebrated for its wonderful man-made limestone mountain, this entire garden is based on mountains and ponds. It fully embodies a Suzhou garden’s splendour of piling rocks and dividing waters. Despite the garden’s small size, there is a feeling of spaciousness due to artistic divisions created by pathways, stone steps, and bridges. At its summit are towering old trees, and at its foot, murmuring streams. It is surrounded by pines, cypress, magnolia among others which give the illusion of a green wall.
Dating back to 514BC, the city of Suzhou is the traditional cradle of Wu culture, and today is an intriguing mix of the ancient and the modern. The original double-chessboard layout of the streets and waterways remains intact, and the city proudly retains the gardens that it has long been renowned for. Yet alongside these charming reminders of its historic past, modern buildings, shopping & entertainment zones, residential areas and commercial hubs point the way to China’s future.
Housed in an iconic, landmark building, Fraser Suites Suzhou offers extended stay travellers a haven of luxury and refinement, where every need is taken care of, and every desire satisfied. Each of the 276 serviced apartments features only the finest, most elegant of décor, designed to soothe and relax, an oasis of personal indulgence.