Xuanwu Lake (Xuánwǔ Hú, 玄武湖) is dotted by causeway-linked garden isles and surrounded by a large park next to Zijin Shan in the northern part of Nanjing.
When the weather is agreeable, Xuanwu Lake Park (Xuánwǔ Hú Gōngyuán, 玄武湖公园) comes alive with residents walking the lakeside paths, boating or exercising. Little vendors, teashops and refreshment stands abound around the lake.
A great place for kids, the park houses playgrounds and a small zoo in addition to the paddle boats. Xuanwu's diverse gardens and groves change with the season, making return visits a delight as delicate spring cherry blossoms give way to the riotous floral colors of summer, which in turn fade into the more subdued shades of autumn.
The lake once formed a natural barrier, hugging the Nanjing City Wall along the Taicheng City section. Originally an imperial getaway, the lake's island park opened to the public with the fall of the Qing Dynasty and establishment of the Republic of China in 1911.
The view of the city rising behind the lake provides for a great photo op from the Nanjing Train Station (Nánjīng Huǒchē Zhàn, 南京火车站).
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