Lion Grove Garden (first built 1342, rebuilt 1918)
The Lion Grove garden was first built in 1342 by the Monk Tianru and other disciples in memory of their teacher, the monk Zhongfeng. The garden is approximately 10,000 square meters and contains 22 pavilions, 71 steles, and numerous other works of art. The garden is famous for its rockery, which is mostly made of limestone taken from Taihu lake. The rocks have been piled up into forms resembling lions. The name of the garden "Lion Grove," came from a reference to lions in a Buddhist story which included descriptions of a rocky place in a bamboo forest (resembling the garden).
In its early years, the garden was famous as a place of retreat for painters and calligraphers. After Tianru's death, the garden passed through a number of hands and declined in later centuries. It was revived in 1918 by a wealthy industrialist named Mr. Pei, but was given to the State after the founding of the People's Republic of China.
It is said that Emperor Qianlong (18th century) visited the site six times and inscribed the word "Zhenqu" (true delight) to describe the garden's beauty. The inscription is still on display in a pavilion of the same name.
Plan viewDrawing by Timothy M Ciccone, based on multiple sources (see bibliography).
Bird's eye viewImage adapted from signpost on site.
All images copyright 2008 Timothy M. Ciccone
Boyd, Andrew. Chinese Architecture and Town Planning: 1500 B.C. - A.D. 1911
Holmesdale Press Ltd, 1962. London
Cheng, Liyao. Ancient Chinese Architecture: Private Gardens
Springer-Verlag/Wein, 1999. New York
Dong, Xiaoming. Cultural Heritage: The Old City of Suzhou
Guwuxuan Publishing House, 2002. China
Feng, Chaoxiong & Fan, Yiguang. The Classical Gardens of Suzhou
New World Press, 2007. China
Liu, Dunzhen. Classical Gardens of Suzhou
China Architecture and Building Press, 2005. China