Mudu Ancient Town with the nickname as Xiangxi (Glamour Stream) is located 15 kilometers west to the central Suzhou. The ancient town is reputed as the best town in Wuzhong Area - the area of original Wu Kingdom of the Spring and Autumn Period. With over 2,500 years history, this town has witnessed the changes over centuries and brought up so many handcraft masters in history.
Covering of 62 square kilometers, Mudu Ancient Town has many historic attractions, typical Chinese gardens and folks stores. Unlike the bustle of Tongli or Zhouzhuang, Mudu Ancient Town presents a simple and peaceful image.
In Ming and Qing Dynasties, there are more than 30 private gardens in Mudu Ancient Town thus the town is reputed as the Town of Gardens. Among various gardens, Yan Family Garden shall be the most outstanding. Located next to Wangjia Bridge, the garden was originally built and owned by the local celebrity in Suzhou called Shen Deqian in Qing Dynasty. In 1902, Yan Guoxin, the richest man in Mudu Ancient Town bought the garden for his own residence and reconstructed it. Since the surname of new owner is Yan, the locals were likely to call the site Yan Family Garden. With an area of about one hectare and lots of well-designed halls and pavilions, this garden has become the leading attraction in the town. This well-designed garden presents various design concepts and skills in the professional architecture aspect.
Just 200 meters from Yan Family Garden, there is another famous garden called Hongyin Shanfang Garden. This was the private landscape garden of a scholar named Xu Shiyuan of the Qing Dynasty. The Emperor Qian Long visited and stayed in this garden for six times when he came to the South Region from capital Beijing for investigation. This private garden was so favored by the emperor so there are many folk legends about the emperor Qian Long with his courtiers left. The hall in western part of the garden is adjusted to a museum which exhibits 20 Decrees of the Emperors and the papers of imperial examinations in the Qing Dynasty. Visitors could learn more about the examination system to select the officials in the feudal dynasty.