Canals and gardens in Suzhou

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Asia » China » Zhejiang » Suzhou
November 13th 2015
Published: December 30th 2017
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Eventually the time had come and I was about to be in a city that I had, for a very long time, been dreaming for. Suzhou. I had been studyng the history of China for a long time and Suzhou was famous for its arched stone bridges, emerald green canals and its beautiful willow trees with hanging branches caressing the water of the canals.

Of course, the modern days Suzhou has changed a lot and, at my arrival, the narrow streets running a long the sumptuous canals were lined with colourful and crowded cafeterias, bars, restaurants, souvenir shops and local ladies brushing and cleaning the staircases leading to the boats docking area. It was drizzling but still ok for a visit around the city.

Even in Suzhou things change fastly and I could see many constuction sites where they were building new shops and condos. Even though the city follows the path of the bigger ones that are scattered along the eastern coastline of China where most of the population live, I felt still a more welcoming ambiance by the people of Suzhou which was really positive, but who knows for how long yet. Suzhou is a city of more than 6 million inhabitants, with over 13 million in its greater area.

I think was absolutely great to havestudyed the hystory of China and then visiting the places and imagining how these cities were in the past and how they changed.

"The only negative point was still my very basic and low level of Chinese that prevented me to integrate and to communicate with the local people but, in the long run, I am sure I will be able to surpass this obstacle and to achieve my goal." For the moment, I just have a bit of practice that is already a good beginning.

Suzhou has got an ancient history of over 2500 years and, as an Italian, I like to say that Suzhou is also called the "Venice of the east" for its so many waterways, streams, rivers and arched bridges. Even though, now, with its new skyscrapers and condominiums Suzhou looks more like a typical modern city than Venice.

In Suzhou there are many interesting places to lose yourself around and in particular the so many lush gardens spread allover the city.

The one that caught my eye was the "Lions grove garden" which was really attractive and huge with its 10,000 square meters.

I just stood in awe to admire the large multi-story rock maze with numerous openings and routes. while adventuring inside the labirinth of pathways I watched the other people to find their way out. It truly gave me the impression to be back in the Qing dynasty period (1644 - 1911).

Continuing along the path I saw a beautiful two story pavillion allowing me to admire the entire garden and sat there for a bit to absorb the old and forgotten beauty of true China. It was a place that hardly anyone would want to leave. While sat in the pavillion I stared at the many lion-like silhouettes that appeared in my mind and thinking that where I was sitting at that moment the great Emperor Qianlong (1711 - 1799) liked sitting in the pavilion.

I was surrounded by traditional buildings and a lovely pond with the typical red fish moving in their usual slow motion. Such a stunning place and still well preserved often gets packed up with numerous tourists even on a poor, cloudy and hazy day.

This garden was originally built in 1342 (ShiZiLínYuán) during the Yuan Dynasty (1279 - 1368) (Mongol Dynasty) by a Monk called Tianru and a group of Zen Buddhist disciples.

The Lions Grove garden was also a place where some of the great artist of the past used to spend their time in the garden to compose their work. Especially in the Plum Blossom pavillion where there were some furniture made of the plum blossom as ornamentation.

At the beginning of the 20th century the rock garden was bought by a wealthy family named "Bei" in 1917. But, after a few years, the Chinese government took control of that, made of it a tourist attraction and opened it in 1954.

I absolutely fell in love with the garden that creates a perfect ambiance of peaceful harmony to escape the hassle and bustle of daily life.

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