Category: News@West Lake.

UNESCO honor for scenic West Lake

WHS#1334 | West Lake | Tourist Maps | Travel Guide | Photo & Video | News Update

By Zhang zixuan (China Daily)

Breeze-Ruffled Lotus at Winding Garden (left) and Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill are among West Lake's 10 poetic scenic areas. Photos Provided to China Daily.

On June 24, at the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) held in Paris, the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou, comprising West Lake and the surrounding hills was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

Located in the old city area of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, the landscape covers an area of 3,322.88 hectares, including the 559.30-hectare West Lake, two pagodas, three causeways, three artificial isles, and numerous temples, pavilions, gardens and ornamental trees. The lake, which has inspired famous poets, scholars and artists since the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), is testimony to Chinese landscape aesthetics.

The 10 poetically named scenic places of West Lake that date back to the 13th century are Su Causeway in the Morning of Spring, Breeze-Ruffled Lotus at Winding Garden, Autumn Moon over the Calm Lake, Lingering Snow on Broken Bridge, Viewing Fish at Flowery Pond, Orioles Singing in the Willows, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Twin Peaks Piercing the Cloud, Leifeng Pagoda in Evening Glow and Evening Bell Ringing at Nanping Hill.

“The landscape belongs to not just Hangzhou, but also to (the rest of) China and the whole world,” says Wang Guoping, director of the Standing Committee of the Hangzhou Municipal People’s Congress, who led the UNESCO listing application.

The first steps were taken in 1999. A new town was built for the city’s economic development, leaving the old city area as a protection zone for West Lake. In 2002, a comprehensive protection project was officially launched. West Lake became the nation’s first free top tourist site.

As part of the project, 0.9-square-kilometers of the lake were regained and more than 180 scenic spots restored or rebuilt. Also, 265 organizations and 2,791 households were moved out, to reduce the population of the area by 7,021.

When British physicist Stephen Hawking visited in 2002, he regretted not being able to tour the lake by himself on his wheelchair. But now barrier-free facilities have been built everywhere.

The inscription makes West Lake the nation’s 41st World Heritage and its 29th World Cultural Heritage site. China now has the world’s third most World Heritage sites.

“The title is an honor, but is also an obligation,” Tong Mingkang, deputy director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage, says. The Hangzhou municipal government has already drafted six regulations aimed at the protection of the West Lake Cultural Landscape. Nine more are in the works.

Wang adds that West Lake and its scenic spots will continue to be free to the public, despite the World Heritage status. More than 20 million tourists flock to it every year. The local government has now invited experts to evaluate the optimal capacity of West Lake, and will soon cap the daily number of visitors.

China Daily

Category: News@West Lake