Home » China Winter Attractions » Shanghai Attractions » Yu Garden and Bazaar

Yu Garden and Bazaar

The only existing ancient garden in Shanghai, the Yuyuan Garden occupies an area of 20,000 square meters. Although small for a traditional Chinese garden, its layout, architecture, and design put it on par with any in China.

The garden was built in 1577 by Pan Yunduan, a government official of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). He built it as a place for his parents to enjoy their old age in a tranquil setting. The name “Yu Yuan” means “Pleasing Garden”. By the end of the Ming Dynasty, the Pan family’s influence and wealth had declined, which left the garden largely neglected, and by the beginning of the Qing Dynasty, it has become very dilapidated. In 2760, a couple of rich merchants purchased the garden and restored and rebuilt it over a period of 20 years. In the early 20th century, the garden was severely damaged during the Opium War. Restoration began on the garden in 1956 and it was opened to the public in 1961.

Design and Layout
Yuyuan Garden’s rockeries, pavilions, ponds, and halls are stunning examples of the Chinese garden designers’ art. Although smaller than most Chinese traditional gardens, the garden’s layout is designed so that it seems very large and every turn a visitor takes brings them upon a whole new scene. The paths are almost labyrinthine in design making for a wonderful experience full of surprises.

Upon entering the garden, visitors see the Sansui Hall in front of them. Built in 1760, the hall was originally used to entertain visitors. It is the largest building in the garden. Its name means; three ears of corn. The panels in the doors are decorated with carved ears of corn. Corn is a symbol of abundance and plenty in China. Located behind the Sansui Hall is the Yangshan Hall, and behind that is the Great Rockery.

The Great Rockery, the largest rockery in the Yuyuan Garden, is the oldest rockery south of the Yangtze River. It is a stunning example of the garden rockery art.

To move east from the Great Rockery, visitors walk down the Double Lane Corridor. The corridor consists of two corridors connected by a wall. Since men and women in ancient China kept apart, men would use one path and women the other. The corridor opens into a courtyard in front of the Wanhua Chamber. In the courtyard is an ancient gingko tree which, according to legend, was planted by Pan Yunduan, who had the garden built. The tree is over 400 years old and is 21 meters tall.

Located east of the Wanhua Chamber is the Dianchun Hall. The hall was once the headquarters of a revolutionary group named the Xiaodao Hui, who fought against the Qing Dynasty’s (1644-1911) rule and objects from their revolution are displayed in the Hall. Located in behind the hall are the Ancient Well Pavilion and Relic Hall. Across from the Dianchun Hall is the Acting and Singing Stage. This small stage was built over a pond and was located so that people could enjoy performances from Dianchun Hall.

The treasure of the Yuyuan Garden is the Exquisite Jade Rock. It is located south of Yuhua Hall. The rock is 3.3 meters tall and has 72 naturally formed holes in it. What makes the rock special, is that if incense is burned beneath it, smoke will come out of all 72 holes, and if water is poured on the top of the stone, water will flow out of all the holes. Yuhua Hall was built facing the rock, so it could be admired from within the hall.

The southern section of the garden, located south of the Huanlong Bridge was originally part of a separate garden, but it was incorporated into the Yuyuan Garden during the Qing Dynast. 

Located next to the Yuyuan Garden, the Yuyuan Market is a favorite shopping area with visitors and local Shanghai residents. The City God Temple, built in the 15th century was located in the area and pilgrims came to worship at the temple. Business and peddlers began to set up shops in the area to cater to the pilgrims. The businesses grew in size and number, until today, you can find over 100 shops and restaurants. The buildings are built in the traditional Chinese style and there are performers showing traditional Chinese arts and entertainment. The Huxinting Teahouse, located next to the market, was built during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and is a fantastic place to relax, enjoy Chinese tea, and people watch. The market is a great place to mingle with the locals, eat local snacks, and pick up unique items for your friends and family back home.