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Garden Architecture

The most distinguishing feature of ancient Chinese gardens is their natural mountains-and-waters (landscape) style. In a selected space, a miniature imitation of nature is created. In this environment, both body and mind can relax and be remolded.

All China's emperors likes to build their own imperial gardens. There, the emperor would handle state affairs, amuse himself and hold religious ceremonies. So imperial gardens are all in a large scale. containing palaces, and recreational and religious structures.

Covering smaller areas than imperial gardens, private gardens are mostly attached to residences. Within a limited area, the beauty of natural mountains and waters can be re-created by using the variation of space, imitating real mountains and waters, and constructing exquisite miniature structures. Throughout the ages, Chinese artisans built up a rich body of theory of garden construction, and bequeathed to posterity a lot of delicate and beautiful gardens.

Garden architecture, an important part of ancient Chinese architecture is a combination of structures and man-made landscape with natural scenery. It does not only provide lodging but also landscaping with architecture, environment and human in full harmony.


The ancient Chinese garden originated in the Shang and Zhou dynasties, when monarchs began to build parks for their own leisure and pleasure. During the Spring and Autumn period and the Warring States period, it was a fashion to build gardens. Until the Han dynasty private gardens appeared. After the Jin, and Northern and Southern dynasties, private gardens came into vogue as the rich and powerful sought to express their sentiment in landscaping. During the Tang and Song dynasties, a poetic touch was added to the layout and scenes of a garden, and became a general feature. In the Qing dynasty, garden architecture reached its peak.


There are many classifications according to different criteria. Herein garden architecture falls into four categories.

Imperial gardens: These gardens, usually spacious, exquisite and grandiose, were built for royal families by thousands people. Images of these gardens will linger in one's mind forever. Now most former imperial gardens are in Beijing.

Private gardens: These gardens are usually built in urban areas, neighbored with residences. Since land is expensive in cities private gardens are generally small and simple but delicate and look tasteful and play multiple functions. Most famous private gardens are situated in Suzhou, Jiangsu.

Monastic gardens: These gardens are commonly found in monasteries against quite and verdant mountains. With natural beauty, these gardens are solemn within the sacred atmosphere.

Garden architecture in scenic resorts: These gardens usually occupy large public areas since they are based on the combination of natural scenes and man-made landscape and structures in suburb area or mountains.

--- Gardens in Yangzhou City
--- Suzhou Gardens
--- Chengde Summer Resort
--- Summer Palace 

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