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Lingering Garden

Lingering Garden, situated outside the Cang Gate of Suzhou city, is one of the four most famous gardens in China. (The others are: the Summer Palace in Beijing, the Mountain Resort of Chengde, and the Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou). With an area of 23,310 square meters, it is celebrated for its artistic way of dealing with the spaces between various kinds of architectural form. The garden was listed from the first as cultural relics of national importance in 1961.

Lingering Garden was built in the 21st year of the reign of Wanli (1583 A.D.) by Xu Taishi, a bureaucrat, as his private garden-residence. During the Jia Qing period of the Qing Dynasty, Liu Shu rebuilt it and changed its name to Cold Green Villa (Han Bi Shan Zhuang). In the first year of reign (1875) of Emperor Guang Xu of the Qing dynasty, Sheng Xuren acquired the garden and gave it a new name "Lingering Garden ".
In 1953, the government rebuilt the garden and restored its former splendor.

The whole garden possesses 42 rooms and halls , a 670-meter-long roofed walkway, 200 lattice-windows of different kinds, 44 parallel couplets and stone carvings , 373 stelae, and 17 valuable old trees which fall into 8 catalogues.

Lingering Garden is separated into the central, eastern, northern and western parts.
The central part of the garden is the original site of the Xu's East Garden and the Liu's Hanbi Villa, and is regarded as the best part of the whole garden. It is features a man-made mountain and lakeside scene, resembling a long scroll of traditional Chinese painting. There are a numger of attractive buildings in the southwest, such as the Hanbi Moutain Villa, the Pellucid Tower, the Green Shade Pavilion, the Zigzag Stream Tower, the Hao Pu Pavilion, and the Refreshing Breeze Pavilion by the lake.

The eastern, northern and western parts are the extensions of the Sheng's Garden. The eastern part is noted for its joyous groupings of garden courts and elegant buildings. An artificial hill made from Taihu rock is always the main component of Suzhou gardens. The 6.5-meter-high Cloud-Capped Peak in this garden, as the highest limestone in classical gardens of Suzhou, is believed to have been left behind by the imperial collector of the Northern Song Dynasty. The northern part is noted for cottages with bamboo fences and idyllic scenes and the western part for the enchantment of woody hills.

The four parts of the garden are connected by corridors which twists and turns with the terrain, spiraling up hills, spanning valleys, skirting ponds, or leading to secluded nooks. There are numbers of stelea in the Lingering Garden, which are inscribed with the works of over 100 calligraphers in the Jin, Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties.

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