Recently, the Chinese historical drama “Story of Yanxi Palace” went viral online, shattering viewership records. Set during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the show follows the story of an imperial court maid who manages to become one of the Emperor Qianlong’s favorite concubines.
The drama, with its intricate settings and delicate costumes all based on historical fact, has probably piqued your interest, making you wish you could travel back in time to the era of the drama to experience it for yourself. The good news is that you can experience the ancient charm of the Qing Dynasty in the poetic gardens in Guangdong.
Yu Yam Ancestral Garden in Panyu
Yu Yin Shan Fang, also called Yu Yam Ancestral Garden, is located on North Street in Nancun Town, Panyu District, Guangzhou. It was first built in 1864, the third year in the reign of Emperor Tongzhi in the Qing Dynasty, and enjoys a history of over 150 years.
Yu Yam Ancestral Garden is one of the four most famous gardens from the Qing Dynasty in Guangdong Province. The other three are Foshan Liang’s Garden, Dongguan Ke Garden and Shunde Qinghui Garden.
Covering an area of 1,598 square meters, the garden was the private residence of Wu Yantian. The father and his two sons scored among the top three in different national imperial examinations taken by the literati class at the time. With an ingenious layout, the garden houses pavilions, terraces, halls, bridges, lakes and hills. The exquisite style of the garden can be seen by the large variety of brick, wood, lime and stone carvings.
Add: North Street, Nancun Town, Panyu District, Guangzhou 广州市番禺区南村镇北大街
Tickets: 18 yuan; half price for students
Transport: Take a train from Shenzhen North Railway Station to Guangzhou South Railway Station, then take Metro Line 7 to Banqiao Station, take Exit A and walk to the destination.
Qinghui Garden in Shunde
Located in Shunde District, Foshan, Qinghui Garden was built in the last period of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It is one of the 10 best gardens in China and one of the four most famous gardens in Guangdong as well. It is a Lingnan-style garden featuring architectural characteristics known for belonging to traditional southern China.
Qinghui Garden was firstly built by Huang Shijun, who was ranked the No.1 scholar in the late Ming Dynasty imperial examination. The existing buildings in the garden were mainly built during the reign of Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820) of the Qing Dynasty.
The yard, buildings, ponds and decorative boulders fit with each other in a harmonious way. Buildings in Qinghui Garden are set in deliberate and picturesque order to highlight the water. Wooden or ceramic sculptures and colorful glassware can be seen everywhere throughout the garden.
Add: Qinghui Road, Daliang Town, Shunde District, Foshan 佛山市顺德区大良镇清晖路
Tickets: 15 yuan; free for local residents
Hours: 8 a.m.-6 p.m.
Transport: Take a train from Shenzhen East Railway Station to Foshan Railway Station, and then take Bus Travel Line 4 to Qinghui Garden.
Foshan Liang’s Garden
One of the four famous gardens in Guangdong, Liang’s Garden is located in Foshan. It is a traditional private garden belonging to the Liang family. The builders were a handful of the clan’s uncles and nephews: Liang Airu, Liang Jiuzhang, Liang Jiuhua and Liang Jiutu.
The garden was first built in 1796 during the Qing Dynasty and carefully built over a period of 40 years. In the early Republic of China period (about 1912), the garden was nearly destroyed. The existing part is only one fifth of the original.
Liang’s Garden features delicate configurations and complex residences, ancestral halls and diversified parks in Lingnan style, presenting an elegant pattern. The garden also houses the works of famous calligraphers from throughout history.
With history, cultural significance and a wonderful sense of serenity, Liang’s Garden is a great oasis within a busy city.
Add: No. 93, Xianfeng Gu Dao, Songfeng Road, Chancheng District, Foshan 佛山市禅城区松风路先锋古道93号
Tickets: 10 yuan; free on Saturday but visitors need to show their ID card
Hours: 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Transport: Take a train from Shenzhen North Railway Station to Foshan West Railway Station, then take Bus G12 to Xugong Hotel and walk to the destination.