Garden of the Humble Administrator – Suzhou, Jiangsu, China

Landscape Art That Still Casts a Spell

An ancient Chinese proverb remains true today: “In Heaven there is paradise; on earth, Suzhou.” Known as the Venice of the East, and with more than 100 gardens and as many silk factories, Suzhou was one of the oldest and wealthiest cities in the empire during the Ming dynasty, and was mentioned by Marco Polo when he wrote about the fabu­lous cities of the East.

Suzhou’s gardens are the very embodiment of Chinese landscape design, with every rock, plant, path, stone lan­tern, and pond carefully placed so that each step frames another impeccable vista. The Lingering Garden and Garden of the Humble Administrator enjoy special designation and government protection as two of China’s four most important gardens.

The latter is the larg­est, built on 10 acres of marshy lakes and pools connected by graceful arched bridges and stepping-stone pathways. Your impres­sion is that the entire middle section of the garden is floating on water.

The city, with dozens of silk factories still in operation, is fascinating in itself. Detrac­tors of Venice will see the same decrepitude and decadence here, but for others this photo­genic, canal-threaded city still casts its spell effortlessly.

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