Yu Garden
Address: Located at the heart of Old Town (Nanshi), a few blocks southwest of the Bund in downtown Shanghai
Transport: Subway: Henan Zhong Lu (a mile away)
Phone: 021-63555032
Price: ¥30 ($3.75)

Yu Garden (Pinyin: Yu yuan), located in the center of the Old City in Shanghai, China, is considered one of the four finest Chinese gardens.

The garden was reportedly first established in 1559 as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years building a garden to please his father Pan En, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty, during his father's old age. Over the years, the gardens fell into disrepair until about 1760 when bought by merchants, then suffered extensive damage in the 19th century.

In 1842, during the Opium Wars, the British army occupied the Town God Temple for five days. During the Taiping Rebellion the gardens were occupied by imperial troops, and damaged again by the Japanese in 1942. They were repaired by the Shanghai government from 1956-1961, opened to the public in 1961, and declared a national monument in 1982.

Today Yu Garden occupies an area of 2 hectares (5 acres), and is divided into six general areas laid out in the Suzhou style:

    * Grand Rockery - rockery made of huangshi stone (12 m high), featuring peaks, cliffs, winding caves and gorges. Thie scenery was possibly created by Zhang Nanyang in the Ming Dynasty. This area also contains the Sansui (Three Corn Ears} Hall.

    * Heralding Spring Hall (Dianchun) - built in 1820, the first year of the Emperor Daoguang's reign. From September 1853 to February 1855, it served as the base of the Society of Little Swords (Xiaodao Hui).

    * Inner Garden - rockeries, ponds, pavilions, and towers, first laid out in 1709 and more recently recreated in 1956 by combining its east and west gardens.

    * Jade Magnificence Hall (Yuhua) - furnished with rosewood pieces from the Ming Dynasty.

    * Lotus Pool - with a zigzag bridge and mid-lake pavilion.

    * Ten Thousand-Flower Tower (Wanhua)

Garden areas are separated by "dragon walls" with undulating gray tiled ridges, each terminating in a dragon's head. It is not clear how closely today's garden resembles its earlier versions.

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