West Lake

An old Chinese saying declares, "There is heaven above, Suzhou and Hangzhou below." Centuries later, Marco Polo called Hangzhou the most enchanting city in all the world. This is most evident in the West Lake area--the effective, if not geographic, center of Hangzhou. Hills embrace the lake on three sides; the city proper lies to the east. Ancient Chinese people praised the West Lake area as a land of intoxicating beauty. Su Shi, a poet from the Song Dynasty, likened the lake to Xizi, a Chinese Cleopatra, for its allure. Ten of the most beautiful sites include:

1. Spring Dawn at Sudi Causeway

2. Melting Snow at Broken Bridge

3. Sunset Glow over Leifeng Hill

4. Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard

5. Autumn Moon on Calm Lake (a lakeside park at the west end of the Bai Causeway)

6. Listening to Orioles Singing in the Willows

7. Viewing Fish and Lotus Ponds at Flower Harbor

8. Evening Bell at Nanping Hill

9. Three Pools Mirroring the Moon

10. Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds

The West Lake is a like a shining pearl inlaid on the vast land of China, reputed for beautiful scenery, a multitude of historical sites, brilliant cultural relics, and a profusion of native products. Legend has it that the West Lake was a heavenly jewel fallen to earth. Pragmatists insist that it is a mere lagoon on Hangzhou's western fringe. In any case, West Lake has inspired painters for centuries.

In ancient times, this place had been an shallow sea gulf before it evolved into a residual lake. The Baidi and Sudi causeways provide access to many parts of the lake. Most of the best known tourist sites lie around and within the lake. With a circumference of 15 kilometers , the lake area itself is easy for the visitor to negotiate.

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