Everyone knows the saying "Suzhou gardens are the best in the world", but few know that there is one garden in Nanjing which dates back to the Ming dynasty. It used to be the best in the city - that is Zhan garden.
Covering an area of about 20,000 square meters, Zhan garden has more than 20 scenic spots of all sizes, which are laid out elegantly and exquisitely. There are magnificent ancient structures built in the Ming and Qing dynasties, steep rockery, famous Taihu stone dating to the northern Song dynasty, and elegant pavilions.
Zhanyuan is located in between Qinhuai river and Confucius temple. It is also a national key scenic spot. But did you know that Zhan garden originated from the stable of a duke's mansion in the Ming dynasty?
“Did it? How could a stable have come to be what it is today?
Zhan garden is the oldest garden extant in Nanjing--- it has a history of more than 600 years. It was originally part of the mansion of Xu Da, one of the founding fathers of the Ming dynasty. Xu Da’s seventh generation grandson started the garden, and was later continuously added to by his descendants until it came to be the most famous private garden in the city, what is now called Zhan garden.
“Oh! I see. It has been standing like this since the Ming dynasty!”
“Not really. With Zhan garden, that’s a long story.”
Like most gardens in the Jiangnan area (south of the Yangtze River), it has undergone the turmoils of different regimes—the Ming dynasty, the Qing dynasty, Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and the Republic of China. In 1864, when the government armies stormed the city held by the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom then, the park was destroyed. Since then, it has been rebuilt twice, but no longer the same as it once was.
The garden as we see today was reconstructed by Professor Liu Dunzhen, a famous expert of ancient construction. After the renovation, the layout is a perfect blending of the style of the Ming and Qing Dynasties, and the elements of modern North and South gardening. It has drawn countless tourists.
Even the classical 1987 version of TV series The Dream of Red Mansions and The Legend of the New White Lady which became popular in the 1980-90s were partly shot here.
Jiangsu gardens highlight the layout of the pavilion, the perfect coordination of rockery, the perfect reflection of flowers and trees, and even distribution of close and distant views.
In addition to Zhan garden located in Nanjing, Suzhou Gardens are a gem of the architectural world, such as the Lion Forest, Canglang Pavilion, Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden.
If you are ever in Jiangsu, you mustn’t miss them. Go and have a look. Stroll through the terraces and pavilions, and absorb the rich cultural heritages of Jiangsu, you will surely like them.