The Master of Nets Garden

The Master of Nets Garden, located in Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, is among the finest gardens in China. Built almost 800 years ago, it initial name is Yuyin, meaning seclusive life like fishermen. Not until 1765 during Qianlong reign in Qing Dynasty did Song Zhongyuan, the then famous artist and calligrapher, rebuilt and renamed the garden as The Master of Nets Garden, similarly longing for as simple a life as fishermen. After centuries' development, it has become a represent of gardens with small and medium size in southeast China. In 1997, it was proclaimed World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Covering an area of around 5,333 kilometers (1.32 acres), it has a typical layout of gardens in Suzhou—living quarters in the east and main garden in the west, two of which are also main parts of the Garden. Four buildings are built in a linear sequence right behind the gate, all facing south. They are the Jiao Ting (Sedan Hall), Wanjuan Tang (Ten Thousand Volume Hall), the main structure Xiexiu Lou (Beauty within Reach Tower), on a north-to-south axis with Ti Yun Shi ( Stairway Cloud room) in the north most. Structures in western part are arranged around the Caixia Chi Pool (Rosy Cloud Pool). North of the Lake are buildings for intellectual activities, including Wufeng Shuwu (Five Peaks Study), Jixu Zhai (Meditation Study), Zhuwai Yizhi Xuan (Branch beyond Bamboo Porch), Kansong Duhua Xuan (Watching Pine and Appreciating Paintings Study) and Dian Chun (Late Spring Cottage) on an east-to-south axis. To the south of the Lake stands the main hall, mainly for banquets and social activities, the Xiaoshan Conggui Xuan ( Small Hill and Osmanthus Fragrance Pavilion), with Zhuoying Shuige (Washing Ribbon Pavilion over Water) in the southwest, Sheya Lang (Shooting Duch Corridor) in the northeast and Yuedao Fenglai Ting (Moon Comes with the Breeze Pavilion) in the west of the lake.

The Garden is relatively small, but exquisitely decorated buildings are arranged in a tight pattern to give the illusion that it is large. It is another masterpiece of ancient people's ingenuity. You may not miss it.