Before we kicked off our brief spring break in Shanghai, we took a high speed train to visit Suzhou, Shanghai’s neighboring city famous for its picturesque canals and historical gardens about 100km northwest of Shanghai. Today, Suzhou is the second largest city in Jiangsu Province, and is only half an hour of high speed train away from Shanghai. Its gigantic train station is conveniently located by the Waicheng River just north of the old city. Across Waicheng River, the north gate and the ancient city wall reminded visitors its 2500 years of history. The full blossoms of peach flowers along the river promenade signified the pleasant spring season south of Yangtze River.
We crossed a bridge to enter the old city, and continued to headed southeast towards Suzhou’s tourist heartland, the area around Humble Ambassador’s Garden. Just before reaching Humble Ambassador’s Garden, we decided to first check out Suzhou Museum. Designed by architect I. M. Pei, the museum is a pleasant destination to have better understanding about the ancient city. Borrowing design motifs, colour palette and planning strategies from the local architecture, Suzhou Museum expresses a contemporary atmosphere with touches of the local heritage. At the heart of the complex, the central courtyard maintained the spirit of a Suzhou garden, with water ponds, pine trees, and a contemporary reinterpretation of Suzhou artificial mountains.
The collections in the Suzhou Museum ranged from artifacts to historical paintings. We were more interested in the architecture itself, from its minimalist rock garden to its interior water feature where a prominent staircase connected all floors. After a brief tour of the building, we exited the museum at a side entrance leading to a well preserved historical garden complex. The complex belonged to Prince Zhong of Taiping Heavenly Kingdom, a state that ruled part of China in the mid 19th century. By the time we exited the complex onto the main pedestrian street, we were only a stone throw away from the entrance into Humble Ambassador’s Garden.
High speed rail links Suzhou to Shanghai in only half an hour.
Suzhou Railway Station stands at the opposite to the city’s old north gate.
Peach and plum flowers greeted us outside Suzhou Railway Station.
Inside Suzhou Museum, we were soon attracted by these huge vine plants that dominated the trellis of a courtyard.
The giant vines.
Well lit corridors connect all exhibition rooms in the museum.
Within the museum complex, the central courtyard and its reflective pool often serve as a visual focus beyond the windows.
This magnificent landscape painting in the garden is made of various thin sheets of rocks. The layering of the mountain-like stones and its reflections make a perfect scenery for the garden, presenting a twist to the traditional Chinese gardens.
The simple geometry and the elegant aesthetic of the building were greatly inspired by the regional tradition of architecture.
Feature stair in the museum.
Feature stair with the mini water fall beyond.
Feature stair in the museum.
Skylights were used in a number of exhibition halls to provide soft ambient lighting.
The pleasant main hallway where visitors come and exit the museum.
A stage for Chinese opera in the former Prince Zhong Complex.
Decorative planting, rock display and natural light in small courtyards at Prince Zhong’s Complex.
The front hall of Prince Zhong Complex opens directly to the main pedestrian streets.
Read other posts on Shanghai 2016:
0.0 SHANGHAI, 2016
1.0 SUZHOU MUSEUM, Suzhou, China
2.0 HUMBLE ADMINISTRATOR’S GARDEN, Suzhou, China
3.0 LION GROVE GARDEN, Suzhou, China
4.0 SOUP DUMPLINGS AND MORNING STROLL, Shanghai, China
5.0 ROCKBUND, Shanghai, China
6.0 M50, Shanghai, China
7.0 1933 SHANGHAI (老場坊) , Shanghai, China
8.0 POLY GRAND THEATRE (上海保利大劇院), Shanghai, China
9.0 FORMER FRENCH CONCESSION, Shanghai, China
10.0 POWER STATION OF ART, Shanghai, China
11.0 LONG MUSEUM (龍美術館), West Bund, Shanghai, China
12.0 THE BUND (外灘) AT NIGHT, Shanghai, China
13.0 TIANZIFANG (田子坊), Shanghai, China
14.0 CHINESE HAND PRINTED BLUE NANKEEN GALLERY (藍印花布博物館), Shanghai, China
15.0 LUJIAZUI (陸家嘴) OF PUDONG (浦東), Shanghai, China