Suzhou and Hangzhou have been China's economic centers since about a thousand years ago. This business culture in this region has spawned Shanghai, the economic capital of modern China. This area also retains the most meticulous lifestyle and the most exquisite garden art in ancient China.
Classical Chinese garden design, which seeks to recreate natural landscapes in miniature, is nowhere better illustrated than in the nine gardens in the historic city of Suzhou. They are generally acknowledged to be masterpieces of the genre. Dating from the 11th-19th century, the gardens reflect the profound metaphysical importance of natural beauty in Chinese culture in their meticulous design.