Guangfu Ancient Town is located about 17 miles (about 28 kilometers) west of Suzhou's urban area, on a peninsula of the beautiful Taihu Lake, and at the foot of Mt. Dengwei. With a history of more than 2,500 years, the town boasts historical and cultural relics, including the Bronze Kwan-yin Temple, Situ Temple, Sheng’en Temple, Shilou Nunnery, and “Sea of Fragrant Snow” (Xiangxuehai), etc. In addition, Guangfu is famous for traditional Chinese crafts such as silk and olive-stone carvings.
Bronze Kwan-yin Temple
Over 1,500 years old, the temple was originally a private residence. During the reign of Empress Wu Zetian
in the Tang Dynasty
(618 - 907 AD), it was converted into Guangfu Temple, where eminent monks preached. During the Song Dynasty
(960 - 1279 AD) a villager dug up a bronze Kwan-yin sculpture nearby and gave it to the temple. Since then, the temple has been called the Bronze Kwan-yin Temple. Presently, the preserved structures here include the main hall, the western hall, a pagoda and a bridge. The main hall and the western hall are reconstructions of the Qing Dynasty
(1644 - 1911 AD). The pagoda, known as the Guangfu Pagoda is located on top of Guishan Hill behind the temple. This pavilion style pagoda is constructed of bricks and timber. It has four sides and seven floors; with a height of 91.70 feet (about 27.95 meters). It is pleasurable to view the surrounding charming scenery from the top. The so called Guangfu Temple Bridge is located in the front of the temple. It is a girder type stone bridge measuring 52.8 feet (about 16.1 meters) long and 10.01 feet (3.05 meters) wide. The stone work has carvings of two dragons playing with a pearl and other beautiful patterns; it is a rare and yet typical Song Dynasty stone bridge.
Located in the west of Guangfu Town, Situ Temple is dedicated to the memory of Deng Yu, the chief minister of Emperor Guangwu during the Eastern Han Dynasty
(25 - 220 AD). No historical records have been found to verify when the temple was first built; the current preservations are reconstructions in late Qing Dynasty and early Republic China, and are laid out in traditional Chinese courtyard pattern. Inside the temple, there are four 2,000-year-old cypresses, said to be planted by Deng Yu. Although exposed to the elements on all sides for so long, they are strong, charming, and attractive as features of the landscape. It is said that Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty was amazed by them when making a tour of inspection here, and named them “Vigor”, "Strangeness”, "Oldness”, and "Weirdness”, in Chinese “Qing”, "Qi”, "Gu”, "Guai”. The four cypresses have become a symbol of the temple.
Stone and Bamboo Garden
Opposite to Situ Temple is the Stone and Bamboo Garden. Inside the garden, there are about 20 types of bamboos and over 1,000 special rocks. There are six exhibition zones: zone one has giant rocks and bamboos; zone two has stone animals; zone three contains stone sculptures; zone four has assorted fossils; zone five has gems; and zone six displays a variety of ores.
The construction began during the Tang Dynasty and Sheng’en Temple is at the foot of Chaizhuang Hill and facing Taihu Lake. The highlight here is the sacrifice and prayer ceremony on January 9th of Chinese lunar calendar
. Every year from January 8th to 10th, worshippers gather here to pray for peace, good luck, and great prospect, etc. The ceremony also attracts many folk artisans, tourists, and venders, making the town a bustling place.
Shilou Nunnery is on Tanshan Hill. In its yard, there are several Japanese bananas and a purple wisteria, like in a literary family’s dwelling. Its main hall is not large, being the size of an ordinary folk residence. In the left of the nunnery, there is a Wanfeng Platform boasting stone inscriptions. Standing on it, one can overlook the green hills and blue waters of Guangfu Ancient Town.
Sea of Fragrant Snow
Located on Mt. Dengwei, the Sea of Fragrant Snow is one of China’s four most famous places where one can appreciate the plum flowers. The tradition of planting plum trees on Mt. Dengwei has a very long history and there is a saying “plum flowers on Mt. Denbgwei are the best under heaven”. During the reign of Emperor Qianlong, he never missed Xiangxuehai on his inspection trips to southern China. The poem tablet on the mountain is the best proof of this. Next to the tablet is the famous Plum Flower Pavilion, one of the best sites to admire plum trees in blossom. Other architecture here includes a Smelling Plum Pavilion on the half way up to Mt. Dengwei, where visitors can drink tea while appreciating plum flowers, and a Plum Pavilion on top of the mountain. In addition to appreciating plum flowers in early spring, beautiful camelias in middle June is a new attraction here in recent years.
Guangfu is one of the origins of Suzhou silk, distinguished by beautiful patterns, careful embroidery, lively stitches, and elegant colors. Another more popular craft of Guangfu is the olive-stone carving. Guangfu olive-stone carving is delicate, fine, and lifelike. It is mainly created out of ideas in four aspects: pursuit of good luck and fortune, fairy tales, folk stories, and natural sceneries and classical gardens.
Take bus no. 63, 64, 65, 651, or 652, and get off at Tongguanyinsi Station. The Bronze Kwan-yin Temple is near this station.
After visiting the temple, you can take bus no. 63, 64, 65, or 651 and get off at Xiangxuehai Station. Situ Temple, Stone and Bamboo Garden, and Sea of Fragrant Snow are near this station.
Suzhou Bus Search
|Scenic Spot ||Admission Fee ||Opening Hours |
|Sea of Fragrant Snow (Xiangxuehai) ||CNY20 ||08:00 - 16:30 |
|Situ Temple ||CNY25 ||08:00 - 16:30 |
|Bronze Kwan-yin Temple ||CNY15 ||08:00 - 16:30 |
|Combo Ticket |
(Sea of Fragrant Snow + Situ Temple + Bronze Kwan-yin Temple)
|CNY 56 |