Yu Garden (Yu Yuan)

Yu Garden (Yu Yuan)

One of the five classical gardens of Shanghai




ATTRACTIONS - Gardens and Parks


HUANGPU - Yu Garden


Yu Garden is one of the five best classical gardens of Shanghai represents the brilliant arts and techniques in garden design and construction that survive from ancient China. It is credited with abundant prominent heritage examples that had been established in a wide span of history as well as the rich cultural foundation sprung up across the entire parcel of land.

The garden is located in the northeast part of the old city, lying next to Gucheng Park, and adjoining Yuyuan Bazaar and the City God Temple.

The construction of Yu Garden was started by Pan Yun Duan 潘允端 who is a local government official at the time of the year 1559, Ming Dynasty, years after the erection of the old city's fortification (built in 1553). The garden was expected to be an outstanding recreation courtyard built over the cropland of Pan's family. Zhang Nan Yang 张南阳, a renowned landscape architect at the time was commissioned to undertake the garden's construction. Zhang's extraordinary design work and sophisticated in-person practice led the project to a peerless outcome impressing the world. The garden was named "Yu Garden 豫园" for the wish of well-being to all members of the Pan family, it totally covered a plot of land 5.9 acres next to the west side of the City God temple.

However, the excessive garden area consequently brought in an enormous cost on the maintenance, it gradually turned into a heavy burden to the Pan family and was considered one of the factors resulting in the falling of the family. After the death of Pan Yun Duan in 1601, Yu Garden was getting out of the regular maintenance and was deserted piecemeal. In the following decades, it has been changed hands several times, until 1760, it sees the turning point.

In the year 1709, prior to the turning point of Yu Garden, an adjacent small plot of land (about 0.39 acres) on the right side of the City God temple was bought by some socialites with the aim of building a temple garden for worship activities. After the construction of the garden was completed, the garden was named "Ling Yuan 灵苑" or "the East Garden" corresponding to the western garden - Yu Garden.

With the increasing demand for more open space for leisure and recreation purposes, in 1760, local magnates considered raising money to launch a renovation for the Yu Garden, pursuing restoring the garden's original landscape. After substantial renovation and reconstruction made to Yu Garden through a span of 24 years, most of the landscape attractions had been restored to their original levels. In addition, a couple of new halls and pavilions were built over the sites where the initial structures were radically demolished. The reconstruction marks a new age to the garden, in which it has been transformed from a private garden into a public temple garden, people came for recreation and worship activities just like they did in the east garden. This new age peacefully lasted for almost 60 years, the situation changed by the burst of the First Opium War in 1842.

The warfare and the later civil conflicts brought in extensive damage to the heritage preserved in Yu Garden, the rockery was torn down, the pond was filled up to the ground, the halls and pavilions were both vandalized at varying extents, moreover, the dense occupation of the garden land made by local business entities, which emerged since the 1870s, was also part of the factor diminishing the garden's original landscape.

It was the establishment of the People's Republic of China initiating a program to have a bunch of heritage sites nationwide under conservation, Yu Garden and its adjoining east garden were both included in the list. In 1956, a renovation project was launched with the expectation of bringing back the original charms of the two gardens. With the great efforts and devotion made by the specialists and the renovation team, the project was eventually led to a remarkable achievement in which the arts of classical garden prevailing between the Ming Dynasty and Qing Dynasty are well exhibited to the people living in nowadays.

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Venue Details
  • Yu Garden (Yu Yuan)

    No.279 Old Yuyuan Street, Yu Garden


    31.227128 121.492255


    PriceCNY 30/adult, CNY 15/child

    CardsCash, WeChat Pay, AliPay, Local Cards

    HoursDaily 9am-4:30pm, last entry by 4pm


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