Suzhou is a famous historical and cultural city in China. In the olden days, Suzhou has attracted many imperial officials and scholars due to its bustling waterways and for being the center of trade for the region. Because of its natural beauty and mild weather, many of them built their residences complete with gardens as retreats for their retirement years.
During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, Suzhou saw a period of economic growth and prosperity where culture flourished. Consequently, the number of privately-owned gardens in the city of Suzhou and its surrounding increased to over 280. It is during these periods that saw the rise of many great builders and scholars and the art of landscaping and gardening reached its apex. Ancient Chinese builders and scholars were all highly educated and accomplished in literature, Chinese calligraphy and painting.
To date, many are still well-kept and are open to the public. The Humble Administrator's Garden and the Lingering Garden, noted for their artistic perfection and individual characteristics, are known as China's four most famous gardens along with the Summer Palace in Beijing and the Imperial Mountain Resort in Chengde.
A Suzhou garden is a microcosm of the earth. The basic elements of the earth like water, rocks, and plants are all are harmoniously arranged in such a way that they reflect the natural beauty of the garden, as if all the elements of the four seasons are reflected within the boundaries of the four walls.
Indeed the classical gardens of Suzhou are the places where people can experience Chinese aesthetics at its best. A walk through the gardens will bring countless different experiences - garden courts in succession, stone bridges, streams, whitewashed walls, gray roof-tiles and more. It is impossible to explore and learn all in one visit.