Canglangting (Surging Wave) Pavilion, located in southern Suzhou, is the oldest among the existing classical gardens in Suzhou. It is also one of the four most famous gardens in the city -- the others being the Shizilin (Lion Grove), Zhuozhengyuan (Humble Administrator's Garden) and Liuyuan (Lingering Garden). The garden was originally the private property of a prince of the Five Dynasties (907-960). During the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127), Su Zimei, a scholar, built his mansion here and named it Canglang Pavilion. The garden has been rebuilt many times but most of the present garden buildings, simple and plain, are from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).
Covering an area of 10,656 square meters (1.1 hectares), the garden features well-arranged man-made hills and waters. On the stream winding through the garden, elegant stone bridges are built. On the hills, there are age-old trees and bamboo groves.
Canglanging, a square pavilion, stands at the top of a hill. Couplets carved on its stone pillars read: "The refreshing breeze and the bright moon are priceless; The nearby water and the distant mountains strike a sentimental note." A corridor built by the canal lies in the north of the garden, linking the scenes inside the garden with that outside it.
Mingdao (Enlightened Way) Hall, located at the foot of the hills, is the major building of the garden. It was a hall for lectures during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Surrounded by verdant trees, it looks significant, though the structure is of simple architectural style.
In addition to hills and waters, the garden is also famous for buildings with unique latticed windows. With different impressive designs, these windows have extremely high artistic value.
(China.org.cn June 24, 2004)