Category: West Lake.

World Heritage Site #1334 :: West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou

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

West Lake China

State Party: China
Location: Hangzhou
GPS: 30°14’00”N, 120°07’00”E
Date of Inscription: 2011
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(vi)
Property : 3,323 ha
Buffer zone: 7,270 ha

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Criterion (ii): The improved landscape of West Lake can be seen to reflect Buddhist ideals imported into China from India such as ‘Buddhist peacefulness’ and ‘nature as paintings’, and in turn it had a major influence on landscape design in East Asia. Its causeways, islands, bridges, temples, pagodas and well defined views, were widely copied over China, notably in the summer Palace at Beijing and in Japan. The notion of ten poetically named scenic places persisted for seven centuries all over China and also spread to the Korean peninsula after the 16th century, when Korean intellectuals made visits to the West Lake.

Criterion (iii): The West Lake landscape is an exceptional testimony to the very specific cultural tradition of improving landscapes to create a series of ‘pictures’ that reflect what was seen as a perfect fusion between people and nature, a tradition that evolved in the Tang and Song Dynasties and has continued its relevance to the present day. The ‘improved’ West Lake, with its exceptional array of man-made causeways, islands, bridges, gardens, pagodas and temples, against a backdrop of the wooded hills, can be seen as an entity that manifests this tradition in an outstanding way.

Criterion (vi): The Tang and Song culture of demonstrating harmony between man and nature by improving the landscape to create pictures of great beauty, captured by artists and given names by poets, is highly visible in the West Lake Landscape, with its islands, causeways, temples, pagodas and ornamental planting. The value of that tradition has persisted for seven centuries in West Lake and has spread across China and into Japan and Korea, turning it into a tradition of outstanding significance.


West Lake Landscape is an exceptional witness to the development and passing down of ancient and enduring Chinese cultures and traditions such as those of Buddhism, Taoism, loyalty and filial piety, hermitage life, book collection, TeaZen, and sphragistics that have been continued till today. West Lake Landscape is an outstanding example of landscape design that reflects the theory of Chinese landscape aesthetics on achieving ‘harmony between nature and man’ and ‘projecting personal feelings into the landscape’.

It demonstrates the artistic style of ‘poetic and picturesque appeal’ in Oriental landscape design since the Southern Song Dynasty (the 13th century). Both the Landscape and the design approach occupy a significant position in the history of landscape design in the world. West Lake Landscape is an outstanding example of using an ancient lagoon to create beautiful scenery, which have significantly improved the living environment. It has been serving the ecological, cultural and tourism functions for the city of Hangzhou in the face of rapid process of urbanization. West Lake Landscape has been the ‘spiritual home’ for the traditional cultural elites of China for over 10 centuries, and a ‘wonder land on earth’ in popular lore. It is the most famous and influential ‘lake with cultural meanings’ that has the longest history in China. It had exerted a broad influence on the culture of East Asia during the 9th to 18th centuries.


West Lake Landscape has completely preserved its overall value in terms of information, material and spirit. Within its current coverage of 4235.76 hectares, the elements contributing to its outstanding universal values, including the basic scale of the natural hills and waters and their ecological environment, the ‘two causeways and three isles’ layout, the spatial feature of ‘cloud-capped hills on three sides of the Lake and the City on the fourth’, Ten Poetically Named Scenic Places, a series of representative historic monuments and sites, and distinctive flora, have been retained intact. In addition, there have been well preserved a large quantity of historical documents and pictorial materials that record the continuous development of the nominated property for over a thousand years.

West Lake Landscape has fully inherited and extended its cultural influence on the spiritual level, while also embraced and carried forward the three main cultural beliefs of China—Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism.


West Lake Landscape, as a living heritage embracing all the 3 types of cultural landscape, during its millennium-long process of continuous evolution, and that of absorbing and accumulating cultural contents, has authentically maintained and transmitted the Chinese landscape aesthetic feature of ‘poetic and picturesque appeal’ embodied in it. It has authentically preserved all its 6 elements in terms of forms, materials, functions, traditional techniques and locations, the general layout, and inner connections between the elements. It has authentically inherited and passed down the important contents of Chinese mainstream cultures such as Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, hermitage life, loyalty and filial piety, book collection and sphragistics, and has continued its functions of serving as a spiritual home and of landscape appreciation. It has transmitted the value of the entire nominated property as a ‘lake with cultural meanings’. It has been one of the most popular places for local communities and visitors in China and abroad for appreciating the natural beauty, tracing the past, leisure recreation, and mind purification.

Category: West Lake
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