Adjacent to Shanghai, the financial giant, is Hangzhou and with its leisure elements and picture perfect scenery has become a holiday destination for many Shanghai businessmen and their families. Dubbed ‘the garden of Shanghai’ it is no wonder Hangzhou is home to a number of villas, built by wealthy businessmen for their heavenly holidays.
Located on the northern side of the West Lake, Beishan Road stretches eastwards to the Broken Bridge and westwards to Yanggong Causeway. Advantageously located at the banks of the West Lake with a vantage point to view the West Lake, Beishan Road was therefore the ideal place many wealthy men chose to build their residences.
So let’s step into the past and follow the path of history along Hangzhou’s famous Beishan Road:
Baoqing Villa (抱青别墅) Baoqing Villa, a signature building along Beishan Road, is reddish brown in color and built with arches that link together to form a passage. In the 1920s Baoqing Villa became Geling Hotel, the most luxury hotel around the West Lake and in 2004 it was listed as one of the heritage buildings under the protection of Hangzhou City. The villa consists of three floors and is lavishly decorated with elements like square columns, arched windows and doors.
Address: No.38-40 Beishan Road
The New Hotel (新新饭店) Although named New Hotel, the hotel is anything but new as its history can be traced back to the 1890s. The hotel consists of many parts, among which Guyun Hut (孤云草舍) and Qiushui Villa (秋水山庄) have been listed as historical sites under protection.
Guyun Hut (‘Gu’ refers to Solitary Hill, ‘yun’ means clouds in Chinese) which faces Solitary Hill is a garden-style hut built in the 1920s and although its name is typically Chinese, the building itself is rather Romanesque. Address: No.58 Beishan Road
Jianpao Villa (坚匏别墅) While many old houses lining the paths of Beishan Road have already been developed into restaurants or hotels some, like Jianpao Villa, still maintain their original appearance and hiding behind a stretch of high white walls is, therefore, easy to miss.
More commonly known as Xiaolian Villa (小莲庄), Jianpao Villa was built sometime between the late Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) and the early period of the Republic of China (1912-1949). It is a Western-style villa and a classic example of the villas built by Hangzhou celebrities in the 1920s. Jianpao is the first villa to combine Western and Chinese styles and like many other western-style villas it has applied many of these elements into its appearance, however Jianpao Villa is still conservative in many ways as it has retained many traditional Chinese features such as the red and black bricks, arched windows and gable roof.
Address: No.32 Beishan Road
West Lake Expo Museum (西湖博览会博物馆) The present West Lake Expo Museum, formed in 2003, is the old site of Industry Hall from the 1929 West Lake Expo and the first ever lake-themed museum. Situated next to Baoqing Villa and sheltered by an array of plane trees, West Lake Expo Museum is a yellow-colored European-style building which harmoniously combines ancient black bricks and wood with modern concrete and glass.
Address: No.40 Beishan Road Hours: 9:00-17:00 from Tuesday to Sunday
Recently, the city of Hangzhou was advertised in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and the ten-thousand-people time travel record of Hangzhou’s Song Dynasty Town has also been publicized in New York’s Times Square.