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Other Heritage Entries
Cover Stories Series 2012> Living, Breathing Heritage> Other Heritage Entries
UPDATED: July 11, 2011 NO. 28 JULY 14, 2011
Natural Pearl Shines Worldwide
West Lake inscribed on UNESCO's World Heritage List as cultural landscape

The morning scenery of Baiti Causeway (CFP)

The famous ancient Chinese poet Bai Juyi of the Tang Dynasty (618-907) could not imagine a thousand years later the West Lake that fascinated him would also win the hearts of people worldwide.

At local time 5:55 p.m. June 24 in Paris, the World Heritage Committee officially admitted the West Lake Cultural Landscape of Hangzhou to UNESCO's World Heritage List.

At the following press conference, Wang Guoping, team leader of the application program and Chairman of the Standing Committee of the People's Congress of Hangzhou City, said, "The application work started in 1999, and the whole process lasted more than a decade. We can say it is 10 years of sharpening a sword." West Lake is the only lake named as a world heritage in China and one of the few lakes on the list in the whole world.

Located in the western part of the city proper, West Lake is both a natural lake and a cultural landscape. It is said it came from a shallow bay where the Qiantang River ran into the sea in ancient times. The total landscape of the West Lake covers 60 square km while the lake surface is 6.5 square km. Average water depth is 2.27 meters. Divided by causeways Baiti, Suti and Yanggong, as well as the Gushan Hill, the lake is partitioned into five—Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lake and Yuehu Lake. The Suti and Baiti causeways run across the Outer West Lake, the largest. Gushan Hill is the largest natural island in the lake while the other three small man-made isles Xiaoyingzhou, Huxinting and Ruangongdun are scattered in its center. West Lake in total comprises a hill, two causeways, three islands and five lakes.

There is a saying that the beauty of Hangzhou is in West Lake, centered on which are more than 60 cultural sites at state, provincial and municipal levels and more than 100 attractions.

The most classic natural beauty of the West Lake is in the 10 best-known scenic spots that were mostly formed in the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

The 10 views represent the natural beauty of the lake during all four seasons and from sunrise to sunset. For example, Remnants of Snow at Broken Bridge features the beautiful scene at the lake during snow. When the sun comes out after snowfall, the snow on the sunny side of the bridge melts first, while the snow on the shady side lingers. Seen from a distance, the bridge appears to be broken. It is a favorite stopover. The famous Chinese folk story The Tale of White Snake also brings the broken bridge scene into the romantic imagination.

The charming scene Viewing Fish at Flower Harbor, dating back to the Song Dynasty, is located at the foot of Huajia Hill on the west bank of the lake where a big fish pond holds a few thousand red carp. Bending over the rails of the bridge and watching as the fish noisily scramble for food thrown to them is an unimaginable experience. The bank of the pond is planted with a rich variety of trees and flowers, enabling a fantastic reflection in the water.

In 1985, people nationwide voted for a further 10 new views at the lake, such as Inquiring About Tea at Dragon Well, Clouds Scurrying Over Jade Emperor Hill, Heavenly Wind Over Wushan Hill, Dreaming of Tiger Spring at Hupao Valley and Nine Greeks Meandering Through a Misty Forest.

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