Built as early as the 4th year of the reign of Zhengde under the Ming Dynasty (1509A.D.), the Humble Administrator's Garden is one of the most famous gardens in China. It is divided into eastern, middle and western parts. Parts of the housing complex have been converted for use as the Suzhou garden museum. Centering upon the broad expanse of lake, the poetic and picturesque garden landscapes and waterscapes with exquisite building and luxuriant vegetation, which seem to be changing at every step and awakening reminiscences of Venetian scenes in the area south of the lower Yangtze, are archaic, rustic, extensive and naturalistic. On the whole, it has kept the style of Ming dynasty. In 1997, it was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO. In 2001, it was listed as the National Tourist Attraction of Grade AAAA.
The garden's site used to be a scholar garden during the Tang Dynasty, and later became a monastery garden for the Dahong Temple during the Yuan Dynasty. In 1513, during the Ming Dynasty reign of Emperor Zhengde, an administrator named Wang Xianchen appropriated the temple and converted it into a private villa with gardens, which were constructed by digging lakes and piling the resultant earth into artificial islands. Since 1949, the garden has been undergone several renovations, and opened to the public in 1954. The present garden covers an area of 1.867 hectares (4.67 acres), and three-fifth of the garden is taken up by water.