The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising the West Lake and the hills surrounding its three sides, has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the 9th century. It comprises numerous temples, pagodas, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees, as well as causeways and artificial islands.These additions have been made to improve the landscape west of the city of Hangzhou to the south of the Yangtze river.The West Lake has influenced garden design on the rest of China as well as Japan and Korea over the centuries and bears an exceptional testimony to the cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of vistas reflecting an idealized fusion between humans and nature.In 2011,UNESCO listed Hangzhou West Lake in the World Cultural Landscape Heritage and made an evaluation as mentioned above.
The West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou dates back to the 9th century, was formed in the 13th century and thrived in the 18th century, and is inherited to this day. Hangzhou West Lake, so to speak, as a cultural landscape of continued inheritance, has summarized and shown the aesthetic ideology of China’s landscapes of all periods, and has extremely significant influence on landscape designs of later generations.It is both a spiritual home of traditional cultural elites of China and the heaven on earth for Chinese people of all classes to yearn for from generation to generation.
As a famous cultural lake with the longest history and largest influence in China, Hangzhou West Lake is composed of five main landscapes: natural scenery,“one lake, two causeways and three islets”,“surrounded on three sides by cloudy mountains and on one side faced by the city”,“Ten Views of the West Lake”as well as important cultural relics, boasting rich historical and humanistic connotations and unique aesthetic style, as well as prominent spiritual value. The heritage covers an area of 43.3 square kilometers.
Eight hundred years ago, the Southern Song Dynasty chose Hangzhou as its capital, when West Lake had become the object that poets rushed to chant, thus the “Ten Views of the West Lake” which integrated culture, history, legend, weather, and season were formed in their works.The ten views are Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring, Orioles Singing in the Willows, Fish Viewing at the Flower Pond,Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer, Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds, Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow,Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Moon over the Peaceful Lake in Autumn, Evening Bell Ringing at the Nanping Hill, and Melting Snow at Broken Bridge. The ten views from ancient times to the present have experienced fluctuations, although, they still enjoy their reputations.