Yu Garden (or Yuyuan Garden), is an extensive Chinese botanical garden located beside the City God Temple, in the northeast of the Old City of Shanghai. It presents the main features of traditional Chinese architecture with many rocks, trees, ponds, walls aligned with dragons and zigzag bridges that separate many gardens and various pavilions.
History of Yu Garden
The garden dates back to the 16th century; constructed between 1559 and 1578. The garden was built during the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years ago. Did you know that this peaceful and serene place was the scene of clashes and political struggles during the 19th century? At the heart of the fighting, the garden was ravaged several times. Bombed during the Opium War in 1842, City God Temple was occupied by the British army for a few days; finally, the French army destructed the Garden during the retaliatory operation at the end of the 19th century in Taiping Rebellion. It was in 1956 that the reconstruction of the Garden was started and it lasted 20 years; Yu Garden was reopened to public in 1961.
Yu Garden aims to represent the world in miniature with its rivers, mountains and villages. There are no geometric shapes, everything is round and symbolizes the sky: small hills, ingeniously mingling pavilions and corridors and carefully selected and well-placed rocks, lotus ponds, bridges, winding paths and trees. In the garden, there is also a number of pavilions. In each of them, there is a dragon statue, a symbol of imperial power.
The garden covers a large space and houses some halls, buildings, cultural relics including old century furniture, calligraphy and precious paintings of famous artists, clay and brick sculptures as well as inscriptions.
Today, Yu Garden occupies an area of 2 hectares (5 acres) and is divided into six general spaces furnished in the Suzhou style:
- Sansui Hall: this means literally Three Tassel Hall. It includes the Grand Rockery, a 12-meter-high rockery made of huangshi stone, featuring peaks, cliffs, winding caves and gorges. This scenery was possibly created during the Ming Dynasty.
- Wanhua Chamber : A “tower of a hundred thousand flowers”.
- Dianchun Hall: built in 1820, the first year of the Daoguang Emperor, Dianchun Hall served as the base of the Small Swords Society from September 1853 to February 1855
- Huijing Hall: a hall with a zigzag bridge and a central pavilion.
- Yuhua Hall: it means “Jade Magnificence Hall”; it is furnished with rosewood pieces from the Ming Dynasty.
- Inner Garden: rockeries, pavilions, ponds and towers. It was first laid out in 1709 and more recently recreated in 1956 by combining its east and west gardens.
“Walls of the dragons” with rippling gray curved ridges, each terminated by a dragon’s head, separate the spaces of the gardens.
How to Get to Yu Garden?
Take bus line 11, 26, 64, 304, 736, 801, 920, 926 or 930 and get off at Xinbeimen station (Renmin Street/Lishui Street). Otherwise, you can take the tourist bus and join directly Yuyuan garden.
For getting to Yu Garden by metro, take subway line 10 and get off at Yuyuan station. Then leave the station by exit 1.
Yu Garden Visiting Tips
- The problem of all the beautiful spaces is that they are very busy with tourists. To avoid the crowds, think about visiting the Yu Garden early in the morning and during the week as the weekends are very busy.
- The best season is the spring or in August when all the flowers offer their open petals and diffuse an intoxicating scent.
- If you are in the area, take the opportunity to see the other attractions around the Yu Garden. Do not miss the Bazaar, which is ideal to buy some souvenirs and immerse yourself in the traditional atmosphere.
From April 1 to June 30 and September 1 to November 30: 40 RMB
From July 1 to August 31 and December 1 to March 31: 30 RMB
8: 30 – 17:30 (there is no ticket available after 17:00)