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Home Yunnan Travel Guide Jianshui Travel Guide Jianshui Attractions Zhu Family Garden in Jianshui: The “Forbidden City” in Yunnan

Zhu Family Garden in Jianshui: The “Forbidden City” in Yunnan

Hidden on Hanlin Street in Jianshui County, there is an ancient private mansion covering an area of about 20,000 square meters. It is the famous Jianshui Zhu Family Garden, a top landmark in Jianshui Ancient Town. With 214 rooms, its vast area, intricate architectural designs, and exquisite carvings and decorations earned it the title of “Forbidden City” and “Grand View Garden” in Yunnan.

Wondering who built this mansion, what stories once took place here, and why it is protected as a national-level cultural relic? Then, you should not miss this architectural marvel during your Yunnan travel. Now, follow our guide to discover its highlights.

Fast Facts of Zhu Family Garden

  • Location: No. 16, Jianshui Hanlin Street, Jianshui County, Honghe Hani and Yi Autonomous Prefecture
  • Opening hours:8:00-19:00
  • Entrance fee: CNY35 per person
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Highlights: Courtyards, pavilions, gardens, fish ponds, rock formations, and ornate carvings.
  • Suited to: History buffs, photographers, Chinese architecture enthusiasts
Yunnan Jianshui Zhu Family Garden
Zhu Family Garden

Layout & History

The construction of the Zhu Family Garden in Jianshui dates back to the late Qing Dynasty, during Emperor Guangxu’s era. Then, in the following two to three decades, continuous renovations and expansions were undertaken, until its current state. Not only is the living place for the Zhu Family, but the complex also serves as a venue for their business and social activities.

The mansion features a “three vertical and four horizontal” asymmetrical layout. Its longitudinal axis is divided into three main areas, and along the lateral axis, it is segmented into four main functional sections. Interspersed throughout the entire complex are 42 patios of different sizes, making the mansion just like a labyrinthine cluster of buildings.

Scattered along the main axis are a tranquil pond, a meticulously designed front garden, three successive courtyards each with its unique character and purpose, and a serene rear garden. This is a quintessential example of the local residential courtyard layout.

What to See and Do in Zhu Family Garden

Admire the Architectural Elegance

Architectures in the Zhu Family Garden is characterized by steep ridges, overhanging eaves, intricately carved beams, and elegant painted rafters. Combining Han architectural art and local ethnic architectural art, all the family residence, ancestral temple, pavilions, corridors, stages, and courtyards impress visitors for their high architectural artistic value.

The gardens are also a big highlight of the complex, being decorated with bamboo, flowers, trees, lotus, fishponds, and rice paddies.

Don’t ignore the detailed carvings on the doors, windows, and furnitures. All the doors and windows are carved with exquisite patterns and items. The beds, tables, chairs, and stools in the rooms are all decorated with purplewood carvings.

Yunnan Jianshui Zhu Family Garden
Admire the Traditional Chinese Architecture

Experience Diverse Cultural Activities

In the Zhu Family Garden, visitors will get chances to try several traditional cultural activities. Rubbing is the most recommended for families with kids. In ancient China, rubbing was the best choice to record and convey former cultures accurately and completely.

Besides rubbing, other traditional cultural activities you can experience here include kettling, archery, Jianshui purple pottery making, etc.

Experience rubbing in Zhu Family Garden
Experience rubbing in Zhu Family Garden

Listen to Zhu Family’s Stories

The story of the Zhu Family is like a drama. They initially made a living from farming. Then, they started trading in tea and silk. Later, they amass more wealth for investing in the tin mining industry, and began to take an important role in local commerce.

During the Xinhai Revolution, Zhu Chaoying, the master of the house, joined the struggle against the Qing Dynasty. But, he later chose to follow Yuan Shikai, whose fall from power finally casued the confiscation of Zhu Family’s property.

Dress in Hanfu & Take Great Photos

It can be a special experience to wear Hanfu (traditional clothing of the Han ethnic group) and take photos in the Zhu Family Garden. Both the Hanfu dress and exquisite architecture in the complex are symbols of authentic Chinese culture, exuding a harmonious beauty when put together for a photo.

Top Yunnan Tours including Zhu Family Garden:

How to Get to Zhu Family Garden in Jianshui

Both direct high-speed trains and long-distance buses are available to connect Kunming and Jianshui. After arriving at Jianshui Railway Stations or bus station, you can take a taxi or local bus to get to Jianshui Ancient Town.

The Zhu Family Garden is just located in the pedestrian area in the ancient town, you can easily reach there on foot.

Best Time to Visit

This architectural marvel can be visited in any season of the year. To travel weather-wisely, March to May and September to November are the times when Jianshui County and its surrounding areas enjoy the most pleasant climate and comfortable temperature.

Attractions Nearby

  • Chaoyang Tower: Ahistoric tower located in the center of Jianshui Ancient Town, offering stunning vistas of the surrounding area.
  • Confucius Temple: Dedicated to Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, and educator. Visitors can learn about Confucianism and admire the temple’s beautiful architecture.
  • Tuanshan Village: Atraditional village located just outside of Jianshui. Home to many well-preserved ancient folk residences.
  • Double Dragon Bridge: A timeless ancient bridge about 5 kilometers west of Jianshui Ancient Town.

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