Yuyuan Garden: A 400-Year-Old Oasis in Shanghai

Unlock the Secrets of This Ming Dynasty Treasure in the Heart of the City

Yuyuan Garden (Happy Garden) is located in the old one Next to Chenghuang Temple northeast of the city. It is adjacent to Yuyuan Tourist Market, Huxinting Teahouse and Yuyuan Market.

This Garden is accessible from Yuyuan Station of Line 10 and Line 14 of the Shanghai Metro.

The centerpiece is exquisite jade (Yu Linglong), a porous rock measuring 3.3 meters and weighing 5 tons. According to rumours of its origin, it was originally intended for Emperor Huizong (Northern Song Dynasty, 1100-1126 AD) in the Bianjing Imperial Garden. Still, it was rescued from the Huangpu River after the ship’s sinking.

2000 Years in the Making: The Story & History of Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai

Yu Garden was first built in 1559 in the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan to offer his condolences to his father and minister Pan En in his later years. Pan Yunduan started the project after failing an imperial exam.

He named the garden “Yu Garden, ” meaning “to satisfy the parents”. His motivation for building this Garden was to honor his parents and let them enjoy their old age. Therefore, the Yu Garden is also known as the “Garden of Ease”. However, after Yun Duan became governor of Sichuan, construction was postponed for nearly two decades until 1577.

View of Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai
View of Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai

In its original form, the Yu Garden featured many carefully designed streams, paths, rock farms, plants, and buildings. The site is designed as a complex of different gardens within a central Le Shou Tang. According to Pan’s records, the Garden was the center of many social activities that influenced Shanghai’s social structure when he lived here.

Design of the Yuyuan Garden

Today, Yu Garden covers 2 hectares (5 acres). The entrance to the Garden is a nine-span bridge spanning a small pond with a tea house. The entrance is located in the forecourt at the end of the bridge. Yu Garden embodies the garden style of garden architecture in the south of the Yangtze River in the Ming and Qing dynasties. It perfectly blends richly decorated halls, elaborate pavilions, shimmering ponds, winding bridges, arches and magnificent rockeries.

Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai
Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai

Yu Garden is divided into six general Suzhou-style areas:

  • Sansuitang (三羽堂, Sān Suì Táng, lit. “三羽堂”) – includes the Great Rockery (大火山, Dà Jiǎshān), a 12-meter-high Yellowstone rockery with peaks, cliffs, winding caves and a ravine. Zhang Nanyang may have created this scene in the Ming Dynasty.
  • Wanhualou (万花楼, Wàn Huā Lóu, lit. “万花室”) – includes Wanhua Hall, Yule Pavilion, Shuangli Corridor and 400-year-old ginkgo trees that line the courtyard
  • Dianchuntang (点春堂, Diǎn Chūn Táng, lit. “报春堂”) – built in 1820, the first year of Daoguang; served as the base of the Little Sword Club from September 1853 to February 1855
  • Huijing Hall (Huì Jǐng Lóu) – Yushui Corridor, Sanzhuan Bridge, Nine Lions Study Hall.
  • Yuhuatang (玉华堂, Yù Huá Táng, literally “Yuhuatang”) – furnished with Ming Dynasty rosewood, shares the same name with a mountain near Xinye, Zhejiang.
  • Inner Garden (内园, Nèi Yuán) – rock farm, ponds, pavilions; first laid out in 1709, most recently rebuilt in 1956 by merging its east and west gardens.

Each area is separated from the others by “dragon walls” with undulating ridges of grey tiles, each ending in a dragon’s head.

Top View of Yuyuan Garden, China
Top View of Yuyuan Garden, China

Remark and Surroundings

There are City God Temple and Yuyuan Market around the Garden. Adjacent to Yu Garden, Yuyuan Bazaar features beautiful Chinese architecture and design as well as hundreds of shops selling jewelry, silk, antiques, art, crafts, souvenirs and local snacks. Over the years, Yu Garden has maintained a delicate balance of scientific elegance and ostentatious consumption since its inception and has become the scene of Pan family drama and popular Shanghai drama.

Gallery of the Yuyuan Garden

  • The Yuyuan Dam Huxinting Teahouse, built-in 1855, is still in use as of 2018
  • Shopping at Yu Garden Bazaar near Yu Garden,
  • rounded gate and Crooked bridge
  • Koi in the large pond
  • The Exquisite Jade Rock
  • One end of the dragon wall
  • One of the rockeries
  • The door of the dragon wall
Yuyuan Garden, China
Yuyuan Garden, China

Features of the Yuyuan Garden

It is now extended across 5 acres of land and consists of six key picturesque locations with different features. Each region is divided by ‘dragon walls,’ which are undulating stone walls topped with a dragon’s head. Sansui Hall is a 12m high huangshi stone rockery with peaks, cliffs, meandering caverns, and gorges. The ‘Chamber of Ten Thousand Flowers’ is Wanhua Chamber; Dianchun Hall is the ‘Heralding Spring Hall’; Huijing Hall includes the Three-Turn Bridge, the Nine Lion Study, and the Jade Water Corridor; and Yuhua Hall, or the Jade Magnificence Hall, is one of the Garden’s most renowned areas, housing the magnificent Jade Rock Sculpture. The Inner Garden is densely packed with rockeries, ponds, pavilions, and towers.

The Garden also has an Acting and Singing Theatre and a Stone Boat.

It consists of ornate halls, ornamented pavilions, gleaming lakes, many-turn bridges, pagodas, hallways, archways, and majestic rockeries.

Five Things to Do in the Yuyuan Garden

  1. Exquisite Jade Rock is a 3.5-meter-tall, 5-ton porous, beautifully-shaped, spiky rock.
  2. Climb to the summit of the 14-meter-tall Great Rockery, which was erected with hundreds of tons of stone.
  3. For good luck, go to the Jiu Qu Bridge or the Nine-Turn Bridge (the number nine is said to be auspicious)
  4. Enjoy tea at the Mid-Lake Pavilion Teahouse, Shanghai’s oldest teahouse.
  5. Appreciate and photograph the historic architecture of the buildings and bridges. Pay attention to the details, such as the fine little brick carvings and clay sculptures, famous artists’ calligraphy and paintings, and couplet and poem inscriptions.
Hotels in the Neighborhood of Yuyuan Garden
Hotels in the Neighborhood of Yuyuan Garden

Hotels in the Neighborhood of Yuyuan Garden

  • Renaissance Hotel Shanghai Yu Garden (0.4 Km away)
  • Wanda Rules the Bund (0.6 Km away)
  • (Shanghai Yu Garden) Yitel (0.6 Km away)
  • Yu Garden Mercure Shanghai (0.7 Km away)
  • The Hotel Indigo Shanghai Bund (0.7 Km away)

Facts about Yuyuan Garden

  • Address: 137 Anren Street, Huangpu District, near the Old City God Temple.
  • Age: more than 400 years
  • 20,000 square meters of land (about five acres)
  • Attractions include magnificent classical gardening art, rockeries, sculptures, and the Yuyuan Bazar.
  • Spring and fall are the best times to visit.
  • Two hours are required for a visit.

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