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As a combination of garden, temple and market providing a variety of food options, Yuyuan Garden and Chenghuang Temple present strong local characteristics. The ancient classical garden, as the most famous historic structure in Shanghai, attracts millions of tourists from China and abroad every year. Its exquisite layout, beautiful scenery, and the artistic style of the garden architecture form part of its charm. At the same time, the garden together with nearby Chenghuang Temple lies in the old area of Shanghai where shoppers flock to purchase traditional Chinese products as well as gold and jewels.
Yuyuan Garden is a beautiful traditional garden positioned in Anren Jie, Shanghai. It is believed that this spectacular garden was built some 400 years ago. The breathtaking layout, stunning scenery, unmatched garden architecture and tranquility at Yuyuan Garden have made it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Shanghai.
Yuyuan, which literally means Happy Garden, was built during the Ming Dynasty. It was built by government official Pan Yunduan. It is recorded that he built this peaceful garden for his parents in their old age to make them feel relaxed and happy.
Situated in the heart of Shanghai Old City, Yuyuan Garden occupies about 20,000 square meters. The entire garden boasts about 40 different attractions.
During its long 400 years, the garden has experienced some severe changes. It was terribly run down during the latter part of the Ming Dynasty mainly with the decline of the Pan family. A team of wealthy merchants purchased the garden in 1760 and it is said that they spent nearly 20 years revamping the buildings. Yuyuan was heavily destroyed as a result of the 19th-century Opium War. Following the war the garden underwent a five-year renovation in 1956. It was open for public viewing in September 1961.
Even though the garden is small, its attractions are enchanting. The impressive pavilions, stunning man- made ponds, dragon-lined walls and bridges all have distinct features. The impressively shaped Jade Rock is a unique highlight. Legend says that this smooth five-ton rock dates back some 1,000 years.
The original garden was severely damaged. The Yuyuan Garden you see today is the restored one from 1956. Now occupying an area of 20,000 square meters, Yuyuan has more than 40 deftly designed ancient constructions, like the giant Rockery, the Iron Lions, Exquisite Jade Rock, and the Deyue Pavilion, all of which are divided by dragon walls, winding corridors and beautiful flowers. Among them, Exquisite Jade Rock is the true treasure of the garden. The rock is 3.3 meters high with 72 holes as clear as jade. The unique feature of this rock is that if you burn a joss stick just below the rock, the smoke will magically float out from all the holes. Similarly, if you pour water into the rock from the top, the water will flow out from each hole.
Yuyuan Garden is regarded as the most beautiful garden south of the Yangtze River. The pavilions, halls, stones and streams form a unique picture featuring “one step, one beauty; every step, every beauty.” It vividly shows the quintessence of southern Chinese landscape design in the Ming and Qing Dynasties.
Yu Garden enjoys the reputation of “the crown of beauty in southeast China.” With flora and exotic rocks complementing each other, it serves as a perfect model of a “famous Jiangnan garden.” Inside the garden is the site of the famous uprising of Shanghai’s Small Sword Society in the Qing Dynasty. On the 440th anniversary of the establishment of Yu Garden, comrade Jiang Zemin brandished his writing brush and left the inscription “Famous Garden above the Sea.” Scenic spots include the Wall of Cloud Piercing Dragon, Spring Transforming Hall, Yu Linglong (Jade Exquisite), Moon Appreciating Pavilion, Ancient Performance Stage, Grand Rockery.
Address: No. 218, Anren Street （安仁街218号）
Business Hours: 8:30～4:30pm
Tickets: 40 yuan
Chenghuang Temple (City God Temple)
During the reign of Yongle in Ming Dynasty (1403—1424), over 150 years after Shanghai’s establishment as a county, Jinshan Shrine on the northern bank of Fanghong was expanded and transformed into the City God Temple of Shanghai County. Legend has it that Chenghuang is the Taoist god who protects the city as well as citizens within its boundary. City God Temple is the place to offer sacrifices to local deities, who were mostly honest and outstanding officials who rendered favors to people in their lives. They are worshipped as gods in the hope that they can still in their afterlife protect people against disasters. Originally a sacred shrine for Jinshan god Huo Guang, Da Sima of West Han Dynasty, Shanghai City God Temple is shared today by Huo Guang in the front hall and the god of Shanghai city Qin Yubo in the rear hall. This is a rare phenomenon in the country, which is popularly referred to as “two city gods sharing the same temple.”
Address: No. 1 Yicheng Road （邑城路1号）
Business Hours: 8:30-4:30pm
Tickets: 10 yuan
More than 400 years ago, the owner of Yu Garden Pan Yunduan had a square pavilion constructed in the lotus pool. Later as the Pans declined in fortune, cloth tycoon Zhu Yunhui and others built a hexagonal pavilion on the site of the square pavilion in the 49th year of Qianlong Emperor (1784). Named “Pavilion in Lake Center,” it served as a venue for cloth businessmen to gather and talk. In the 5th year of Xianfeng Emperor (1855), it was converted into a tea house, which was successively named “Yeshi Tea House,” and “Wanzai Tea House.” Finally restored to the name of “Pavilion in Lake Center,” it is the oldest tea house in Shanghai.
Located northwest of City God Temple, Chenxiang Pavilion, Profound Fragrance Pavilion, was originally built by Pan Yunduan, the owner of Yu Garden. With a history of over 400 years, the pavilion derived its name from precious Chinese eaglewood used to sculpt Buddhist statues, which permeate the air with intense fragrance in cloudy and rainy weather. On a par with the three famous Buddhist temples of Longhua, Jing’an, and Jade Buddha, Chenxiang Pavilion has become one of the largest nunneries in Shanghai.
Address: No. 29, Chenxiang Pavilion Road (沉香阁路29号)
Business Hours: 7am-4pm
Tickets: 10 yuan