Yugarden in Shanghai - Photos by AliceLiu, China, Shanghai

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Yuyuan Garden is a famous classical garden located in Anren Jie, Shanghai. The garden was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan's parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age.

In the 400 years of its existence, Yuyuan Garden had undergone many changes. During the late Ming Dynasty, it became very dilapidated with the decline of Pan's family. In 1760, some rich merchants bought Yuyuan Garden and spent more than 20 years reconstructing the buildings. During the Opium War of the 19th century, Yuyuan Garden was severely damaged. The Yuyuan Garden you see today is the result of a five year restoration project which began in 1956. The garden was open to the public in September, 1961.

Yuyuan Garden occupies an area of 20,000 square meters (about five acres). However, the small size is not a representative of the attractions of the garden. The pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters all have unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas in the garden: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden. Each area features several scenic spots within its borders.

Upon entering the garden, you will encounter a rockery, which is called the Great Rockery. With a height of 14 meters (about 50 feet), it is the largest as well as the oldest rockery in the southern region of the Yangtze River. On the top of the rockery, you can get a bird's eye view of the garden. Cuixiu Hall sits at the foot of the rockery. It is a quiet and elegant place surrounded by old trees and beautiful flowers. Visitors will find curio shops in the Cuixiu Hall.

The true treasure of Yuyuan Garden is the Exquisite Jade Rock. Located across from Yuhua Hall, it is one of the three famous rocks in the southern region of the Yangtze River. (The other two are Duanyun Feng in Suzhou and Zhouyun Feng in Hangzhou.) The rock is 3.3 meters (about 10.8 feet) in height and has 72 holes. What is interesting about this rock is that if you burn a joss stick just below the rock, the smoke will magically float out from all of the holes. Similarly, when you pour water into the rock from top, the water will flow out from each hole creating a spectacular sight to see. Pan Yunduan was very fond of the Exquisite Jade Rock, and he built Yuhua Hall facing the rock so it was convenient to sit in the hall and admire it. The furnishings in the hall were made of top grade rosewood of the Ming Dynasty, appearing both natural and graceful.

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