On June 24, 2011, the West Lake was successfully inscribed on the list of the UNESCO World Heritage and became the 41st world heritage in China as well as the 3rd Cultural Landscape type of the UNESCO World Heritage in China.
The real value of the West Lake is in the interaction it brings between human and nature, as well as the interaction it brings between culture and landscape.
01 West Lake Natural Landscape
The West Lake Natural Landscape is comprised of five water areas, the Outer Lake, the Small South Lake, the West Inner Lake, the Yuehu Lake and the North Inner Lake, and hills and mountains surrounding it on three sides. It is the natural carrier and a significant part of the “West Lake Landscape”.
02 City and Lake Spatial Feature
The West Lake Landscape displays the unique spatial feature of the lake being surrounded on three sides by 'cloud-capped hills' and on the fourth by the city of Hangzhou. The spatial feature was formed in the 12th century and was preserved till now.
03 West Lake Landscape Layout
The landscape layout of the West Lake is demonstrated by two causeways (Bai Causeway and Su Causeway) and three islets (Lesser Yingzhou, Mid-Lake Pavilion and Ruangong Islet). They are the results of repeated dredging of the West Lake between the Ninth Century and Nineteenth Century. They are scattered around the West Lake, forming a series of unique, rich, broad and multi-level sightseeing experience, and are the framework and the most influential landscape element of West Lake Landscape.
04 West Lake Ten Views
The origin of the “West Lake Ten Views” can date back to the Southern Song Dynasty (thirteenth century) and since then, they have continued to evolve and formed the current ten poetically named scenic areas, Spring Dawn at Su Causeway, Breeze-ruffled Lotus at Quyuan Garden, Autumn Moon Over the Calm Lake, Lingering Snow on the Broken Bridge, Orioles Singing in the Willows, Viewing Fish at Flower Pond, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Twin Peaks Piercing the Cloud, Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow. These views can only be seen in special viewing venues and angles that were passed down from generation to generation, and demonstrate special themes and establish an emotional connection with viewers through either historical relics or natural scenery. Their formation is the
results of the joint efforts of both nature and human and they, as a whole, is the existing most classic, complete and influential work of Chinese Mountain and Water Landscape design method, “Inscription Landscape.”They are of strong cultural connotation and are the core elements of the West Lake Landscape with the most creative and the most classic artistic examples.
05 West Lake Cultural and Historical Relics
During its evolution over thousands of years, “West Lake Landscape” has accumulated a considerable number of Chinese mainstream culture-related historical relics due to its political, historical and geographical reasons and its extraordinary landscape attraction and cultural charms. Among its over one hundred historical and cultural relics, the most representative ones are Baochu Pagoda, relics of Leifeng Pagoda, Pagoda of Six Harmonies, Jingci Temple, Lingyin Temple, Feilai Peak Grotto Carvings, Yuefei Mausoleum, Wenlan Pavilion, Baopu Taoist Temple, relics of Qiantang Gate, relics of Temporary Imperial Palace of the Qing Dynasty, Stele of the Poem: Dancing Crane, Tomb of Lin Bu, Xiling Seal-engraving Society and Longjing. Distributed on the banks of the West Lake and
among the lakeside mountains, they act as the barrier and carrier of these profound and diversified cultures and traditions, which make them the supporting elements of the West Lake as a “noted cultural lake”.
06 West Lake Special Plants
Among the “West Lake Landscape”, those flora landscapes with age-old history and outstanding cultural symbolic meanings include the followings, the special landscape of growing peach trees and willows along the banks and causeways of the lake which originated from the Song Dynasty, seasonal flowers (peach flowers in spring, lotus flowers in summer, osmanthus in autumn and plum blossoms in winter) in accordance with the Top Ten Views of the West Lake, as well as traditional Longing Tea Gardens which are distributed among mountains west of the lake and are the cultural carriers of China’s Buddhism Tea.