West Lake in Hangzhou

Updated: 2010-09-01 14:50
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Xī Hú (literally "West Lake") is a famous fresh water lake located in the historic center of Hangzhou, in eastern China’s Zhejiang province.

The lake is divided by three causeways called Su courseway, Bai courseway, and Yánggōng Courseway.


West Lake is located in the western area of Hangzhou City's historic center. There are dozens of lakes called West Lake worldwide, but "West Lake" usually refers to the Hangzhou West Lake.

It has an area of 6.5 square kilometers and is surrounded by mountains on three sides. The distance from north to south is about 3.2 kilometers, and east to west, 2.8 kilometers. The circumference is around 15 kilometers. The average depth of West Lake is 2.27 meters, and the capacity is about 14,290,000 cubic meters.

The lake is divided by Gu Shan, Bai, Su and Yanggong Causeways into five areas. Ordered by their areas, they are Outer West Lake, West Inner Lake, North Inner Lake, Little South Lak and Yue Lake. "Outer West Lake" is the largest. "Gu Shan" or Gu Hill is the largest natural island in the lake. Su &Bai Causeways run cross the lake. Three small man-made islands, "Xiao Ying Zhou", "Huxing Pavilion", "Ruangong Stone", lie in the center of Outer West Lake. Thus, the basic layout is "one hill, two causeways, three islands, and five lakes".

West Lake is not only famous for its picturesque landscape, it is also associated with many scholars, national heroes and revolutionary martyrs, and it is therefore plays an important role in many aspects of Chinese culture. In addition there are many ancient buildings, stone caves and engraved tablets in surrounding areas, and among them are some of the most cherished national treasures of China.

Due to its prominent historical and cultural status among Chinese scenic resorts, West Lake was chosen as a National Key Scenic Resort in 1982, named one of Ten Scenic Resorts in 1985, and selected as a national 5A tourist resort in 2006. In addition, a picture of the lake, "Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon," was printed on the backs of both the foreign exchange certificate one yuan bill issued by the government in 1979 and the fifth version of RMB one yuan bill issued in 2004.

West Lake in Hangzhou

The Back of One Yuan Bill of RMB, 5th Version

Ten Scenes of West Lake

There are ten traditional spots from which to look at the West Lake, each known by a four character phrase. Collectively, they are known as the "Ten Scenes of West Lake".

Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring (Sudi Chunxiao)

West Lake in Hangzhou

Curved Yard and Lotus Pool in Summer (Quyuan Fenghe)

West Lake in Hangzhou

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