Five Pavilion Bridge in Slender West Lake

Five Pavilion Bridge in Slender West Lake

If we were to personify Slender West Lake as an elegant and graceful maiden, the Five Pavilion Bridge would undoubtedly be the exquisite belt adorning her slender waist. Not only is it a symbol of Slender West Lake, but it also stands as an emblem of Yangzhou city itself.

Constructed in the 22nd year of the Qing Dynasty’s Qianlong era (1757 AD), the Five Pavilion Bridge draws inspiration from Beijing‘s Beihai Park‘s Five Dragon Pavilion and the Seventeen-Arch Bridge in the Summer Palace. With a history spanning over two centuries, this bridge stretches 57.99 meters in length, with a width ranging from 6.16 to 18.77 meters. The central arch of the bridge boasts a span of 7.13 meters.

What sets the Five Pavilion Bridge apart are the five distinctive pavilions, each reflecting the charm of the southern region. These graceful pavilions resemble five lotus blossoms emerging from the water. Adorned with precious finials and painted ceilings inside, while featuring wind chimes hanging outside, these pavilions are a testament to southern architectural style.

The bridge’s piers, constructed from 12 large blocks of blue stone, create a robust and imposing “工” (gong) shape foundation. The harmonious combination of the bridge’s elegant structure and the robust foundation is exemplified within the bridge’s archways. The body of the bridge consists of various-sized and differently shaped “juan dong” (archways), which, when paired with the substantial piers, create a visually pleasing and harmonious unity of form. This union of the ethereal arched chambers with the solid bridge piers, where straight lines meet curved archways, all proportioned naturally, culminates in a visually harmonious effect.

Renowned Chinese bridge expert Mao Yisheng once commented, “China’s ancient bridge is Zhaozhou Bridge, China’s magnificent bridge is the Lugou Bridge, and the bridge that embodies artistic beauty is Yangzhou’s Five Pavilion Bridge.” In essence, the Five Pavilion Bridge is not just a structure; it is a masterpiece that combines architectural prowess with artistic finesse, making it a symbol of both Slender West Lake and the city of Yangzhou, encapsulating the beauty and history of the region.

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