The Yu Yuan Garden, located just a few steps from Shanghai’s Bund in Old Shanghai, is a 2 hectares large garden full of secrets, hideaway and beautiful adornments. It’s name, I read, translates literally into “Garden of Happiness”.
I kind of understand why.
The garden covers seven sub-gardens, each of which is completely surrounded by walls with fantasy gateways connecting each one to the next. Gateways had different forms and sizes – from circular ones to more detailed shaped ones!
Walking through the different sections, we came across beautiful garden pavilions and terraces, each symbolizing Old Shanghai’s elegance. Some of the pavilions are named after popular chinese poems, which can often be found inscribed on the pillars, hanging on either side of the gates or in the halls.
It’s easy to fall in love with this place – gold-fish swimming in small ponds, beautiful architecture and blooming flowers everywhere. But the devil (or dragon, in this case) is in the detail. When visiting Yu Yuan, a great part of surprises can be seen when looking up, above your usual eye level. I was excited to find several dragons as part of a wall or the roof of pavilions!
The whole garden is so delicately designed that we spent hours wandering through it and never really had enough of it. More than just a tourist attraction (which it still is – given the large amount of chinese tourists capturing each and every corner of it), it is a place to spend half or even a full day. All you need is a camera, a book (or even a sketch book!) and a large bottle of water. In such a poetic atmosphere, inspiration will come in no time.