One of the city's more under-appreciated tourist attractions, Guangzhou Sculpture Park (雕塑公园) is a definite must for any long-term resident or those just passing through. The vast array of sculptures is just one of the many selling points of the park, as it has many green, open spaces as well as winding paths for long walks, on top of some top quality facilities. Located close to Xiaobei (小北) metro station at the foot of Baiyun Mountain, it is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in the coming summer.
The Guangzhou Sculpture Park was built by the Guangzhou Municipal People's Government and opened in 1996 to commemorate the 2210th anniversary of the founding of Guangzhou Town. It is China's largest sculpture park with a total area of 113 acres. It contains sculptures by artists from all over the world with huge differences in style and multiple themes, including a dedicated area for the works of the famous Chinese realist sculptor Tang Daxi. His sculptures depict well-known historic and patriotic scenes.
The sculptures can be found littered all over the park, starting with some very grandiose obelisks at the main entrance, as well as the obligatory statues of historical figures. Some of the most interesting can be found down by the lake if you walk straight ahead from the main entrance. The pathway beside the lake showcases some typical Chinese scenes by a surreal artist who wonderfully captures the moment with very strange looking figures. The 羊 (yang) obelisk is another one worth mentioning just for its bizarre factor; located on the bank of the lake, it has the character 羊 (meaning ‘sheep') written on it hundreds of times in different scripts – for no significant reason as far as I'm aware… Another worth watching for is a red ‘tree' that looks like industrial waste sent back from the future; you can spot it on a hillside in the distance, and may mistake it for part of a construction site.
The sculpture park makes for a great picnic spot, with many cool spots in the shade, plenty of benches and a large open field of grass (seemingly for the nearby statues of horses to frolic in). Moreover, it is one of the few parks in China where you are allowed to walk and sit on the grass, a comfort that is synonymous with the word ‘park' in most Western countries. There are also plenty of small features such as rock gardens to walk on and massage your feet, mini lakes and waterfalls and a plethora of pavilions hidden away on the many paths leading around the park.
Dining and entertainment
T:Union, Guangzhou. Photo: mask9.com
For a refreshing drink or romantic evening meal after your long walk, there is a Western restaurant situated close to the main path from the entrance. Reasonably priced and with a surprisingly large selection of wine, it provides a more spontaneous way to enjoy food and a tipple in the peace and quiet of the park, with both indoor and outdoor seating.
One of the lesser-known gems of the sculpture park is T-Union, a live music venue located in the building next to the 羊 obelisk. Partnered with C-Union, another better known live music venue in Guangzhou, T-Union is one of Guangzhou's largest gig spots. With a capacity of close to a thousand, ranging from plush sofas to standing room by the bar, it attracts acts from all over China and indeed the world. It is open every night from 6pm, but tends to not be too busy unless there is a live show that night. Make sure to familiarise yourself with where it is during the day though, as it can be more difficult to find in the twilight and the main entrance of the park closes; you will have to enter the park by following the service road to the right of the entrance and cutting through to the main footpath.
To get there, you can walk north from Xiaobei metro on Xiatang Xi Lu (下塘西路) or you can reach the main entrance by taking buses 36, 66, 76, 540, 547 or 801 and disembarking at the Sculpture Park bus stop.
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Keywords: Guangzhou sculpture park T:Union Guangzhou attractions in Guangzhou
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