Yu Garden (Yu Yuan)

Yu Garden (Yu Yuan)

One of the five classical gardens of Shanghai




SIGHTSEEING - Gardens and Parks


HUANGPU - Yu Garden


Yu Yuan (Yu Garden) is an excellent representation of the arts of China's classical garden construction, it is credited with abundant heritage preeminences established in a wide history span 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 construction was committed to building an outstanding private garden over the cropland of Pan's family. Zhang Nan Yang 张南阳, a renowned landscape architect at the time was invited to undertake the garden construction. Zhang's extraordinary garden design as well as the sophisticated exercise in the construction led the project a peerless achievement impressing the world. The garden was named "Yu Garden 豫园" with the wish of well-being to all members of the Pan family, occupying the ground area of about 24,000 square meters at the west side of the City God temple.

However, the excessive garden area consequently resulted in an enormous cost on the maintenance, it gradually turned into a heavy burden to the Pan family, which was one of the factors accelerating the falling of the family's destiny. After the death of Pan Yun Duan in 1601, Yu Garden was out of maintenance and getting neglected piecemeal due to Pan's family could no longer afford it, hence, this once-thriving garden was eventually abandoned and changed hands several times in the following decades until 1760.

In the year 1709, prior to the turning point of Yu Garden, there was an adjacent plot of land about 1,500 square meters on the right side of the City God temple bought by some socialites aiming at building a temple garden for worship activities. After construction accomplished,  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 reconstruction to the Yu Garden, in the pursuit of restoring the garden's original scenery. After substantial renovation and reconstruction made to Yu Garden through a total 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 the inclusion in the list. In 1956, a renovation project was launched in the commitment to bringing back original charms to the two gardens on the spot with the dedicated fund of millions of Chinese Yuan at the time. 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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