Inside Shanghai old town's secretive Shu Yin Lou

Shanghai's hidden walled garden is a fascinating spot to explore

Shu Yin Lou's once-extravagant gardens - located on Tiandeng Long, just off of Fuxing Dong Lu - were originally built in 1763 by Chen Shu, a high level Qing dynasty official. Lu Xixiong, Chen’s grandson and one of the period’s most prominent scholars, constructed a walled library for his retirement, where he lived like a hermit, giving the compound its name (书隐楼, the ‘Secluded Library’). 
Tiandeng Long
1/12

Tiandeng Long

Entranceway
2/12

Entranceway

By the late nineteenth century, the Lus’ fortunes were in decline and the family were forced to sell the estate to Fujian merchants surnamed Guo. In the '60s/'70s, it became a toy factory and army barracks before being reclaimed by the Guos in the 1990s.

The first main courtyard
3/12

The first main courtyard

Shu Yin Lou is full of intricate carvings
4/12

Shu Yin Lou is full of intricate carvings

Shu Yin Lou is full of intricate carvings
5/12

Shu Yin Lou is full of intricate carvings

Some of the buildings have fallen into disrepair
6/12

Some of the buildings have fallen into disrepair

Today, the complex has largely fallen into disrepair, but it’s nevertheless fascinating to walk around. It remains secluded even today, with the only hint of its existence a stone plinth on the street outside. The gate on Tiandeng Long is usually locked, meaning if you want to enter you’ll need to get in touch with Guo Yuwen, a cheerful retiree who still lives inside. She also operates as a Mandarin tour guide (for 30RMB) and will walk you through the site while chatting about its, and her family’s, history.

An old toy looks out over the tumble-down buildings
7/12

An old toy looks out over the tumble-down buildings

Most rooms have now been abandoned
8/12

Most rooms have now been abandoned

Many of the rooms that lead off from a high-walled garden are somewhat tumble-down and feature abandoned TV sets and furniture, but there’s still a majestic aura to the residence and a tangible sense of history in the exquisite carvings and remaining structures, such as a Song dynasty well. Shu Yin Lou is a rare example of the city’s past in a rapidly shrinking area of the old town; visit while you can.

A bike rusts away beside one wall
9/12

A bike rusts away beside one wall

An old TV set and badminton rackets sit on one table
10/12

An old TV set and badminton rackets sit on one table

This screen is so historically important, it was displayed at the Shanghai Expo
11/12

This screen is so historically important, it was displayed at the Shanghai Expo

Comments