Seven hundred years ago, Marco Polo was enamored with the city of Hangzhou. West Lake or Xi Hu has long been its crowning jewel. Dotted with islands and surrounded on three sides with rolling hills of green, it is extremely picturesque and has temples and museums located on many of the islands.
Hangzhou's West Lake Cultural Landscape, a World Heritage Site, has long inspired artists, poets and scholars with its pristing beauty and "idealised fusion between humans and nature." Temples, pavilions, gardens and pagodas surround the lake and rise on its many artificial islands. The masterful garden layout of the massive site has been a major influence in Asian garden design and in urban beautification the world over.