Pictures by: Father Tomas Del Valle-Reyes
Yu Garden is located to the south of the Bund, the old Chinese city was a walled fishing town when the
British arrived in 1843. Modern Shanghai grew up around it. It used to be a maze of tiny alleys, but the
streets have been widened in recent years and are crowded with tourists.
At the center of the Old City are the Chenghuang Temple and the Yu Garden, in which stands the Huxining Teahouse, said to be the model for the design on the willow-pattern plates much loved by Europeans in another era. The Bridge of Nine Turns zigzags to make it difficult for evil spirits to get across (since, as is well known, evil spirits have problems with corners).
The Yu Garden is a classical Chinese garden with over 30 pavilions linked by a maze of corridors and bridges over ponds.
Yu Garden was first conceived in 1559 during the Ming Dynasty by Pan Yunduan as a comfort for his father, the minister Pan En, in his old age. Pan Yunduan began the project after failing one of the imperial exams, but his appointment as governor of Sichuan postponed construction for nearly twenty years until 1577.
The garden was the largest and most prestigious of its era in Shanghai, but eventually its expense helped ruin the Pans.