The 500-year-old Wansong Academy of Classical Learning has been restored recently at its original site on the eastern side of the Phoenix Mountain in Hangzhou.The restoration is part of the bigger project aimed to fully testore the southern lakeshore scenery of the West Lake.

Founded in 1498 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), the academy was one of the four major academies in Hangzhou for its complete set of sactrficial utensils, comprehensive and efficient school management and a full library. It attracted students from all over Zhejiang Province. For 500 years´╝îthe academy turned out numerous talents for the province and the whole country. It enjoyed an established reputation in Zhejiang and Jiangsu as a successful educational institute.

Great Achievement Hall in the Confucius Temple

Yet,a romance that occurred at the academy has spread far and wide across China.The story is known in the West as China’sRomeo and Juliet and has been adapted into a movie,A violin concerto based on the tragedy is a masterpiece well known in the world.

Confucius and his disciples

In the early period, the academy was large with many magnificent buildings.Two descendents of Confucius were in vited from Quzhou to host the academy. The academy adopted some new textbooks and followed the school management principles and rules formulated by Zhu Xi, a grest scholar in Ming Dynasty. In 1580, Wei Zhongxian, a eunuch in power, set up a literary inquisition to persecute scholars. He tried to shut down all the academies across the country.

The Ten-Thousand-Pine Academy was saved when two court officials appealed to the emperor two court officials appealed to the emperor under the excuse that it was a place to hold sacrificial ceremonies in memory of Confucius.

Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dyansty wrote this horizontal inscription board for the academy.

The academy underwent several expansion and overhaul projects in the middle period, when some important buildings were added. The student dorms were expanded to accommodate traveling scholars. The library was expanded too. It had some gift books from Emperor Kangxi of the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). Famed scholars were invited to lecture at the academy. At that time,the Qing government adopted pacifying polices in order to consolidate its power allocating funds to academies. Over years, Emperor Kangxi and Emperor Qianlong obliged inscriptions to the academy.During his six inspections to the southern part of China, Emperor Qianlong visited the academy six times. All these added to the reputation the academy enjoyed, making it the biggest educational institute in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces.

Legend has it that this building used to be where Liang Shanbo an Zhu Yingtai studied.

In later years, the academy decayed as the Qing government became weak and the downtown Hangzhou gradually shifted to the north. In 1879,the Zhejiang provincial governor wanted to restore it to its former glory. He launched a big-fund restoration project and had tens of thousands of pine trees planted on the slope of the mountain. But the measure did not save the academy from deterioration. As the academy system was abolished at the end of the Qing Dysasty, the academy just died.

The newly restored academy is now a cultural park, the only one around the West Lake, though the park takes the shape of the academy in its original Ming style. The simple layout embodies the academy’s history of scholarliness. The landscape is characterized with the hill, trees, bamboos, flowers and rockery. Murals, stone tablets, wood carvings, couplets hung on the columns of halls, and horizontal tablets with inscriptions, all tell stories of the past cultural tradition .And of course, the famous romance is now played up as a big attraction for tourists.