In East China, for travelers, both the professionals and the locals recommend you the West Lake, which is reputed as the artistic center of traditional China. The West Lake is the only lake of China inscribed into the list of UNESCO world cultural heritage sites. Located in the west downtown area of Hangzhou, West Lake is not so big as Taihu Lake or Poyang Lake, but a typical sightseeing one valued by the scholar-officials for thousands of years. Crowned to be the cultural landscape approved by the authorities of the UN, the West Lake is so charming that has been chosen as the top ideal destination for painters, calligraphers, musician, poets, philosophers, photographers. Many people don’t like Chinese urbanization development, but the city construction of Hangzhou, which is a special example thoroughly different from majority of cities in mainland China, thanks to the ancestral people’s contribution and the protection of modern scholars and officials in the Republic of China. Love in Hangzhou, firstly could be defined to be loving the West Lake. The West Lake is the soul of Hangzhou, and the exterior embodiment of Chinese elites’ spiritual world. Let us have a systematic reading about this lake.
The Introduction to The West Lake
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Mentioning the West Lake of Hangzhou, nearly all of Chinese people know it is a beautiful and elegant destination for traveling and leisure, due to its uniqueness and enchantment formed over the past thousands of years. Therefore, travel professionals may always say it will not be the real China tour if the itinerary excludes West Lake Scenic Area of Hangzhou. In a word, Hangzhou West Lake to a most degree is the representative or visualized reflection of Chinese spirituality and interiority of Chinese culture.
Hangzhou West Lake located on the west side of downtown Hangzhou, but it still belongs in the urban zone. Anciently, West Lake had diversity of names like Wulin Shui, Qiantang Hu and Xizi Hu. And being called West Lake started during the early period of Song Dynasty. Traditionally, it has a widespread fame for its picturesque natural landscape and multiple cultural and historic attractions. Many people consider the West Lake to be the eyes of Hangzhou, who is honorably titled Earthly Paradise on the basis of the beauty of West Lake.
West Lake Scenic Area centered on West Lake is comprised of Hubin Zone, Huxin Zone, Beishan Zong, Nanshan Zong and Qiantang Zone, all of which cover roughly 49 square kilometers. The beauty of West Lake lies in its floating gold-like wave in sunny day and dream-like surroundings in rainy day. No matter whether it is rainy, snowy, sunny, cloudy, or has sunglows at dawn and dark, the look of West Lake is always changing and transferring in beauty. Its diversity of beauties can be exactly shown as the spring flowers, autumn moon, summer lotus and winter snow, Most of the scenes can be seen from Su, Bai and Yang Causeways.
Just for its charming beauty and time-honored history, West Lake is also traditionally considered as the most important showcase of Chinese elite culture, specifically speaking, the exclusive culture of scholars or official bureaucrats, who was the backbones of the development of ancient China. West Lake historically was the center of scholars since Sui Dynasty, and also became the resort of Emperors, and lots of officials or famous figures preferred living in Hangzhou. They generally selected West Lake as their spiritual partner. Since then, West Lake was humanized and endowed with many beautiful titles and stories, and also becomes a classical cultural imagery in literature and art.
Historically, the highly comment on West Lake is:”Hangzhou West Lake is the most beautiful one among 36 west lakes sharing the same name on earth”. Hangzhou is a large-scale comprehensive museum exhibiting the beauty from nature, history, culture, custom, tradition and art of Hangzhou. Traditionally, the scholars and artists of different dynasties and times summarized the beauty of West Lake with many graceful names like Su Di Chun Xiao, Duan Qiao Can Xue, Ping Hu Qiu Yue, San Tan Ying Yue, and so on. Actually, today’s amount of scenic spots of West Lake exceeds 180. These scenic spots are not only the natural scenes but the cultural and historic sites with many touching historic stories and folk legends. There are more than 60 cultural and historic sites under the protection of different levels and over 20 museums and memorials partially opened to the public all the year around. These famous scenic spots later not only became the tangible cultural and leisure sites but also the classic literary imageries in Chinese classic literature. Moreover, many learners collected them to be a list, which is also quite well known such as Top Ten Classic Scenes of West Lake, Top Ten New Scenes of West Lake, Top 18 Scenes of West Lake in Qing Dynasty, Top 10 Scenes of Qiantang in Yuan Dynasty and Top Ten Latest Scenes of West Lake. These brief summaries of Hangzhou beauties largely show the history of West Lake in ancient times.
Hangzhou West Lake inscribed on World Cultural Heritage List in June, 2011 and becomes the 41st site of World Heritage in China. The 35th session of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee officially defines it as Hangzhou West Lake Cultural Landscape. It means that Hangzhou West Lake is formally accepted by the world. West Lake Scenic Area also belongs to the List of National Key Scenic Places of Interest in the first batch, and also one of national top ten civilized scenic zone as well as Five-A tourist destination. The whole west lake seems like a moving painting, and each part of it can be a poem, a painting, a charm and a dream.
Since 2002, the whole West Lake Scenic Area was freely opened to the public, besides, the Hangzhou Municipal government also made a great decision of implementing the Protection Project of the West Lake. There are more than 150 scenic sites rebuilt, resurfaced and extended. And the whole west lake has a new and refreshing look. The lakeside parks and museums are all freely opened, the classic scene of One Lake, Two Pagodas, Three Isles and Three Causeways returned to the world again. And a new feature also forms, which generally shortened to be Hot East, Prosperous South, Tranquil West, Elegant North and Pretty Center. This is a great and rarely-seen contribution of government to the West Lake.
Nowadays, a series of themed festivals are also held in West Lake Scenic Area, and they are the other new highlights of West Lake. They approximately include: West Lake Cuckoo Festival lasted from April 20 to May 20; West Lake Lotus Festival from July to August; West Lake Sweet-Scented Osmanthus Festival from Late September to Early October; West Lake Soirees of Mid-Autumn Moon Appreciation from August 14 to August 16 in lunar calendar; and West Lake International Fireworks Festival, which is the most impressive festival annually of Hangzhou. Surely there are also many other festivals like temple fairs, local festivals available as well. We dare to say that each day of Hangzhou is the festival. Also, each day of West Lake is the enjoyment of comers and goers of Hangzhou. West Lake is the best destination for tour. Don’t miss it, if you are traveling in China.
West Lake cultural &natural landscapes (Ten Classic Scenes of West Lake)
In many experts’ mind, West Lake firstly is a cultural landscape site and then a natural attraction. We believe it is acceptable, and also formally agreed by the authoritative judges of UNESCO. It is actually the city's biggest draw, an endlessly photogenic expanse of fog-shrouded water crisscrossed with stone causeways and dotted with willow-heavy islands. There are numerous paths around the lake for bikers and strollers, but it's best to get out on a boat, either early in the morning or by night from the southern shore, to see the waterside pagodas lit up. This is a visual touch of the West Lake, and where is the aspect of the West Lake in culture and humanism? Please read further :
There are hundreds of tourist attractions in the West Lake Scenic Area. The names of these tourist sites are difficult to be remembered and understood, if you are not familiar to the classical literature and Chinese language, and on the contrary, the names are strongly poetic and romantic, if you know what they depict. The most famous tourist attractions and the most popular names of these sites are mingled into the “Xihu Shijing”(西湖十景, Ten Classic Scenes of the West Lake). They are the quintessence to visit amid your travel in West Lake Scenic Area. In different phases of history, there were different types of ten views. We have done a collection job to list all the ten sites of different times in history. They are available in the page of >The Ten Classic Scenes of The West Lake >>>.
Generally, these classic sites are named with four Chinese characters. It is related to a tradition in Chinese literature. Four characters used in essay or prose is a popular symbol of written language, a type of elegant words based on the long-term literary education. Just as the ancient idioms, which are considered as the highlights of Chinese literature and language, the poetic and classical names release the educational level of the namers, the oldest ten scenes of the West Lake were named by the great scholars or the imperial painters in the central government of Southern Song Dynasty. All of these classic sites owned the strong features of literature after their named were confirmed, and then massively accepted as the classic words to describe the similar environment and sceneries. They are of a strong poetic imagery that inspires many poets, painters and musicians too much.
They are well reputed as the cultural landscapes, thanks to the artistic, cultural and academic souls who deeply loved them and largely promoted them. As early as the Southern Song Dynasty, four imperial painters of the Southern Song Dynasty’s Imperial Palace created 10 paintings themed with ten classic scenes of the West Lake, after ten scenes were fixed officially. Four great painters together entitled historically to be “Four Great Painters of Southern Song Dynasty”, were Li Tang(李唐, 1083-1163), Liu Songnian(刘松年, 1155-1218), Ma Yuan(马远) and Xia Gui(夏圭). They firstly gave a great literary and artistic imagery, and it basically shapes the obvious characteristics of these cultural landscapes. They were born in the elite culture.
Apart from those classic views in the West Lake Scenic Area. There are many other top-rated tourist sites such as Lingyin Temple, Green Tea Plantation, Liuhe Pagoda, The Solitary Hill, Xiling Society of Seal Arts, Fanghe Pavilion and so on. West Lake is a complex or cluster of a variety of cultural and natural attractions with high value of art, history, culture and aesthetics.
The stories of the West Lake
The West Lake is widely loved and traveled, not only for its natural and cultural charm, but the touching stories, especially the love stories happened around the West Lake. Hereinafter, several selected legends are displayed:
The famous people in the history of the West Lake
Speaking of the historic and cultural figures related to the West Lake, it will be uncountable. We select some of them below, and they were most famous and influential in history of China.
The services inclusive of seasonal tours, cuisines, cruises and performances
West Lake is the highlights of travel in Hangzhou. In this way, stay in Hangzhou or enjoy a holiday here, West Lake is a must-see part. To meet most of the clients’ needs and make the tour of clients in Hangzhou convenient, we offer a list of services as below:
| The Highlighted Attractions of Hangzhou
| The Travel Guide of Hangzhou
Editor: Julius from Mildchina
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