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West Lake

Hangzhou's fame rests mainly with the picturesque West Lake. So named because it is located on the west side of the city.

Originally a shallow sea inlet, this section of the Qiantong river was dredged and damned off in the eighth century to form the West Lake that exists today. Covering about four square miles,West Lake is surrounded on three sides by rolling wooded hills. The natural setting of strangely shaped peaks, serene forests and springs, dense foliage and a myriad of blossoms especially in springtime are enhanced by a treasury of sculpture and architectural features. It was a favourite imperial retreat.

Fairy Islet, an island at the lake's centre, is a wonderful spot to savour its scenic expanse. From here one can view the Three Pools Mirroring the Moon when at night candles are lit in stone lanterns jutting out of the water thus creating the impression of the reflections of three moons. The scene is truly magical on the night of the Autumn Moon Festival.

There are two causeways on West Lake. One is known as Bai causeway after Bai Juyi, a poet of the Tang Dynasty, and the other known as Su causeway after Su Dongpo, a poet of the Song Dynasty. Su Causeway bisects the lake from north to south. The blue water is dotted with elegant stone bridges and charming pavilions. Su Dongpo has wrote a poem to praise the picturesque scenery of West Lake. He compared the West Lake to Xi Zi, the most beautiful woman in ancient China.

There are now more than 40 places of scenic and historical interest scattered around West Lake, such as Lingyin Temple, Feilai Peak and others.

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