Shanghai. A huge, bustling metropolis. China’s biggest city. Its financial nerve center. A city in a constant move and development but in the middle of everything there is a Garden Oasis called Yu Yuan Garden.
Yu Yuan Garden is one of the top tourist attraction in Shanghai. And unfortunately, it is now crowded with tourist shops everywhere. But despite this, it is still amazing. If you are in Shanghai, it’s a perfect attraction to visit before going to the Shanghai Bund.
A little bit of history
Yu Garden was first built in 16 century during the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan as a relaxation place for his father, the minister Pan En. The construction took almost 20 years to be complete but once completed, it was the largest and most prestigious of its kind in Shanghai. The huge expenses of the construction eventually ruined Pan Family.
Actually, Yu Yuan is a complex formed by two things:
Yuyuan Market or Yuyuan Bazaar is just next to the Yuyuan Garden. Originally there was just a temple – The City God Temple, that was built in the 15th Century. Over 100 years ago there was an increase in pilgrims who came to worship at the temple. As a result, businesses began to open up shops in the immediate area for these pilgrims. Since that time this market has continued to grow in importance. Today the market is the representative spot of Old Shanghai. Many locals and tourists go to find unique items to purchase and grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants.
Buildings are built in the same redwood in oriental style. The Bazaar has a great number of small streets and lanes where you can find many restaurants, tea houses, and shops. It is a good place to sample some local snacks and buy some souvenirs. Or just to stop and drink a cup of tea in one of these amazing buildings.
Ok, the place was crowded but the buildings and the whole complex was simply wonderful.
The garden itself, Yu Yuan, (which literally means Yu Garden), is in the center of the complex.
It is spreading on more than 20,000 sq. and is divided into six general areas laid out in the Suzhou style, which is considered the “most refined form” of garden art.
For those looking for a glimpse into ancient China, as reflected in movies and books, this is the place.The garden is unique in design. It perfectly blends decorative halls, elaborate pavilions, glittering pools, zigzag bridges, pagodas, archways, and impressive rockeries.
When walking in the garden, you do not just focus on the huge items like buildings and bridges, but keep your eyes on the details. Much of the garden’s beauty is in the tiny carvings and sculptures.
You will find many clay sculptures and brick carvings, calligraphic and painting works of famous artists, as well as some inscriptions and couplets.
Although the garden was crowded with tourists, it was the perfect place and one of the most beautiful gardens that I have ever seen in my entire life.
The best time to visit Yu Garden is in spring when the garden is dotted with green trees and blossoming flowers.
If you are in Shanghai for a few days, visit the garden on a weekday as it will be less crowded than on a weekend.
If you do not mind large crowds, you can visit the garden during the Spring Festival when the garden will be decorated with beautiful lanterns of dragons and phoenix.