Suzhou Classic Bonsai Garden – World Cultural Heritage in China

Classical Chinese garden design, which seeks to recreate the natural landscape in miniature, is nowhere better illustrated than in the nine gardens in the historic city of Suzhou. They are generally acknowledged as masterpieces of the genre. Dating from the 11-19th centuries, the gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous design.

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Accreditation year: 1997
Substantial Boundary Modifications : 2000
Criteria: (i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Area: 11,922 ha
Buffer zone: 26,839 ha
Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province

Outstanding global value

The classical gardens of Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, China date back to the 6th century BC when the city was founded as the capital of the Wu Kingdom. Inspired by the royal hunting gardens built by the King of Wu, private gardens began to appear around the 4th century and eventually reached its peak in the 18th century. Today, more than 50 the gardens of these still exist, nine of which are the Humble Steward’s Garden, the Extended Garden, the Master Net’s Garden, the Mountain Villa with its enveloping beauty, Canglang Communal House, The Garden The Lion, Cultivation Garden, Couple’s Retreat Garden, and The Garden of Retreat & Reflection, are considered to be the best embodiment of China’s “Mountain and Water” garden. The earliest of these, the Canglang Pavilion was built in the early 11th century on the site of a previously destroyed garden. Formed and built under the influence of the unrestrained free verse style originally seen in traditional Chinese landscape paintings, they are noted for their profound fusion of exquisite craftsmanship. , artistic elegance and rich cultural significance. These gardens provide insight into how ancient Chinese intellectuals harmonized notions of aestheticism in a reclusive culture within urban habitats.


Gardening masters from each dynasty adapted different techniques to artistically mimic nature by skillfully adjusting and using only the physical space available to them. Limited in space to a single house, the classical Suzhou gardens are intended to be a microcosm of the natural world, incorporating basic elements such as water, rocks, plants, and more. type of building of literary and poetic significance. These exquisite gardens are a testament to the outstanding craftsmanship of the master gardeners of the time. Unique designs inspired but not limited by concepts of nature have had a profound influence on the development of both Eastern and Western garden art. These gardens include buildings, stones, calligraphy, furniture, and decorative artworks that serve as showcases of the most important artistic achievements of the Eastern Yangtze River Delta region; In essence, they embody the content of traditional Chinese culture.

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Criterion (i): The classical gardens of Suzhou influenced by traditional Chinese arts and crafts were first introduced with freehand strokes of traditional Chinese paintings, showing subtle sophistication of traditional Chinese culture. This embodiment of perfection in art has earned them the reputation of being the most innovative horticultural masterpieces of ancient China.

Criterion (ii): Over a period of more than 2,000 years, a unique but systematic landscape for these special types of gardens has been formed. Its planning, design, construction techniques as well as artistic performance have had a significant impact on the development of landscape in China as well as around the world.

Criterion (iii): The classical gardens of Suzhou were first rooted in the desire of ancient Chinese intellectuals to harmonize with nature while cultivating their temperament. They are the best remnants of the wisdom and traditions of ancient Chinese intellectuals.

Criterion (iv) : The classical gardens of Suzhou are the most vivid specimens of the culture embodied in garden landscape design from the East Yangtze River Delta region in the 11th century to the present. 19th century. Basic philosophy, literature, arts and crafts embodied in architecture, horticulture and crafts reflect the great achievements of social, cultural, scientific and technology of this period.

Criterion (v): These classical Suzhou gardens are outstanding examples of the harmonious relationship achieved between traditional Chinese housing estates and artfully created nature. They introduced the lifestyle, rituals and customs of the Eastern Yangtze River Delta region in the 11th to 19th centuries.

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The heritage property’s settings and features include all the essential elements and key values ​​of the classical gardens of Suzhou. Archives from the 11th to 20th centuries, such as the Suzhou City Chronicle, Wu District Chronicle, Tongli Town Chronicle, and Tong Jun’s Notes of Jiangnan Gardens In 1937, the Map of Binh Giang engraved, Ying zao fayuan (Traditional Architectural Rule) by Yao Chengzu in 1937, and the Classical Garden of Suzhou by Liu Dunzhen in 1979, are records of surveys, maps and surveys. and detailed drawings of these classical gardens. These gardens preserve diverse architectural features such as structure and composition, architectural forms such as stone and plant configurations, arrays, couplets and furniture. Within the boundary of the buffer zone, essential elements including rivers, streets, alleys, indigenous houses as well as cultural atmosphere, are all preserved. These essential elements comprehensively express the style, setting, atmosphere and artistic mood of the “urban scene” surrounding the classical gardens of Suzhou.

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The stylistic evolution of classical gardens in Suzhou has been detailed in volumes of poems, poems, paintings, and maps reminiscent of each historical period from the 11th Century. Gardens of each historical period are found in the ancient trees, plaques, couplets, carved bricks and stones, inscriptions and other precious immovable cultural relics in these areas. Traditional local horticulture techniques and values ​​have been handed down from generation to generation, always adhering to design concepts that strive to create miniature worlds in limited spaces and methods. The horticultural approach attempts to emulate nature with meticulous details while adapting to local conditions. The master gardeners of each dynasty have always used traditional materials and techniques in the repair and maintenance of these gardens.

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Protection and management requirements

The classical gardens in Suzhou on the World Heritage List are all listed as State Priority Protected Sites by the State Council, and are therefore subject to strict laws and regulations governing management. management and conservation, including the Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Cultural Relics. The Suzhou City Government established an agency for the conservation and management of gardens and cultural heritage in 1949. The Suzhou City Garden and Landscape Management Bureau, including the Heritage Supervision Bureau, China The heritage monitoring and conservation center and the monument management office are responsible for the management of each garden.

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So far, the classical gardens of Suzhou are still well preserved. Regulations on management and protection of Suzhou gardens and Suzhou Classical Garden World Heritage Preservation Plan have been promulgated, which clearly define ownership and buffer zones. The protection of these gardens has been included in the framework of the Master Plan of Suzhou City. Conservation and management agencies at all levels have identified and will focus on developing and enforcing all relevant laws and regulations as well as temporary and long-term conservation plans. All measures serve a common purpose: to reduce the impact of urbanization by closely monitoring and monitoring the various factors that are likely to affect these gardens, including approve the adjustment of approved procedures for construction projects in the buffer zone; reduce population density; improve the living conditions and heritage awareness of residents around the area, and reduce pressures arising from commercial and tourism activities. The ultimate goal is to ensure the orderly, scientific management and preservation of the classical gardens of Suzhou.

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Map of Suzhou Classical Ornamental Garden

The Humble Administrator’s Garden
Luu Vien (The Lingering Garden)
The Master-of-Nets Garden (The Master-of-Nets Garden)
Hoan Tu Son Trang (The Mountain Villa with Embracing Beauty)
Thuong Lang Dinh (The Canglang Pavilion)
The Lion Forest Garden (The Lion Forest Garden)
The Garden of Cultivation
The Couple’s Retreat
The Retreat & Reflection Garden

Video of Suzhou Classic Bonsai Garden

See also: UNESCO World Cultural/Natural Heritage Sites

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